If blockchain technology allows us to more securely and transparently track all types of transactions, imagine the possibilities it presents across the supply chain. Every time a product changes hands, the transaction could be documented, creating a permanent history of a product, from manufacture to sale. This could dramatically reduce time delays, added costs, and human error that plague transactions today.
Some supply chains are already using the technology, and experts suggest blockchain could become a universal “supply chain operating system” before long (Spend Matters). Consider how this technology could improve the following tasks:
- Recording the quantity and transfer of assets – like pallets, trailers, containers, etc. – as they move between supply chain nodes (Talking Logistics)
- Trackingpurchase orders, change orders, receipts, shipment notifications, or other trade-related documents
- Assigningor verifying certifications or certain properties of physical products; for example determining if a food product is organic or fair trade (Provenance)
- Linkingphysical goods to serial numbers, bar codes, digital tags like RFID, etc.
- Sharinginformation about manufacturing process, assembly, delivery, and maintenance of products with suppliers and vendors
Benefits in a Nutshell
Regardless of the application, blockchain offers shippers the following advantages:
- Enhanced Transparency. Documenting a product’s journey across the supply chain reveals its true origin and touchpoints, which increases trust and helps eliminate the bias found in today’s opaque supply chains. Manufacturers can also reduce recalls by sharing logs with OEMs and regulators (Talking Logistics).
- Greater Scalability.Virtually any number of participants, accessing from any number of touchpoints, is possible (Forbes).
- Better Security.A shared, indelible ledger with codified rules could potentially eliminate the audits required by internal systems and processes (Spend Matters).
- Increased Innovation.Opportunities abound to create new, specialized uses for the technology as a result of the decentralized architecture.
Smart shippers are finding ways to leverage these innovations to increase profits and strengthen relationships across the supply chain.
They’re also partnering with forward-thinking service providers who value transparency and innovation, and understand blockchain’s potential.