HANNOVER MESSE 2018, 23 - 27 April
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Industrial Supply

As a blockchain, the supply chain is an open book

Blockchain technology enables a secure, traceable and counterfeit-free supply chain. Such protection works for merchandise as well as for intellectual property – in principle.

28 Nov. 2017
Michael Triadan
As a blockchain, the supply chain is an open book (graphic: CRYPTOTEC AG)

Blockchain technology could have a threefold positive impact on supply chains: It replaces the usual paper documents, avoids errors, and speeds up data transmission. Above all, however, the test chain ensures neutral traceability. Blockchains are, to some extent, distributed cashbooks in which every transaction associated with an asset is permanently reported and accessible to all those involved. This creates an unbroken "chain of trust". Each record is given a timestamp and is appended to the previous event.

Estimates by the European Association of Automotive Suppliers CLEPA suggest that original manufacturers incur damages of 5 to 10 billion euros per year due to counterfeit spare parts. The Cologne-based company CryptoTec offers a possible solution for companies in the retail, automotive, aviation and health sectors. Its blockchain-based, CryptoLib-protected supply chain software secures every transaction, from production to delivery of the product. IBM has a similar solution for supply chains in its portfolio and has already tested it with Maersk . The Sweetbridge Foundation in turn wants to use the technology to provide financial security to smaller suppliers.

ARC research director, Harry Forbes, nevertheless points out that the blockchain’s transparency is by no means always desirable in the case of supply chains. Another obstacle is that such systems are safe only when there are enough participants. Last but not least, the lack of qualified blockchain specialists is a practical hurdle.