Blockchain for supply chain – who’s in the game
Almost every day the Brieftrace management team reviews a new initiative in the blockchain supply chain space. Yet when we meet investors and customers, it doesn’t always feel that everyone sees how this space is shaping and growing almost on a daily basis.
We decided to share our knowledge on the key initiatives and companies operating in this space in a series of posts starting with this one.
Blockchain for supply chain who’s in the game – episode I
There is a growing number of projects that are increasingly starting to focus on how to tackle the problems of supply chain complexity through blockchain technology. Aside from its budding use case in financial services, blockchain has great potential in fundamentally changing the supply chain landscape. Blockchain could resolve issues concerning disclosure and accountability through its use of distributed ledger technology. Creating tamper proof records that improve transparency and traceability across the supply chain.
There are many projects currently working in this domain and below are some of the most exciting companies working on blockchain in supply chain.
The name ‘Provenance’ comes from the art world. Where the word meant the earliest known origin of an art piece also referring to the number of hands that the piece had been passed through in its history. Similarly, this UK based startup helps brands provide transparency by tracking a product’s journey and history. This is done by equipping physical products with a unique ID through which you can access the products digital history. By scanning the ID code, consumers can for example track a can of salmon and know precisely where the fish was caught, canned and shipped. With each step time stamped, consumers are learning more about the product they are buying.
BlockVerify is a blockchain based anti-counterfeit solution. Using blockchain, BlockVerify’s system can authenticate counterfeit products already in a company’s possession, identify fraudulent transactions and track stolen goods. With each product being labelled with a tag, consumers can verify the authenticity of their purchase. Which is particularly useful for high value items such as diamonds and luxury goods. BlockVerify is currently focusing on the pharmaceutical industry as they believe that it’s one of the worst affected sectors when it comes to counterfeiting. It has however also run a pilot programme with a London based beauty company as it expands its range of applications. Furthermore, by allowing products to be verified through mobile devices, BlockVerify has made large scale product verification a viable option.
OriginTrail is a decentralized supply chain protocol that combines supply chain data from different IT systems. It has developed a unique protocol that enables companies to exchange data seamlessly and efficiently across inter-organisational environments. Currently working in areas such as meat and dairy, they assist clients in developing processes to bring transparency in the origin and traceability of food products. They have run three blockchain based food sourcing pilot projects with more than 1200 farms tracked across Europe. With the culmination of these pilots leading to European shoppers scanning a barcode at their grocery stores to see the origin of their food. Furthermore, they partnered with Yimishiji one of China’s largest online food stores in a pilot project. Using blockchain to monitor the temperature of food for food safety purposes as it moved through the supply chain. Even winning Walmart’s Food Safety Collaboration Center’s award for 2017.
Speaking of Walmart, they have been exploring how to apply blockchain technology into their food supply chains and have come up with some very interesting solutions. They conducted an experiment last year to trace a package of sliced mangoes back to their source. It took them 6 days, 18 hours and 26 minutes to complete that process. By developing a blockchain led application with IBM to track mangoes from Mexico to the US, they were able to conduct the same experiment in a measly 2.2 seconds. This pilot project represents one of the largest proof of concept within the food industry having involved 16 farms, two packing houses, three brokers, two import warehouses, and one processing facility. Demonstrating Blockchain’s ability in food traceability and supply chain transparency and auditability. Furthermore, Walmart towards the end of last year filed a patent for a system that uses blockchain technology to track packages delivered by unmanned drones. This patent shall enable Walmart to efficiently track inventory and regularly monitor its delivery locations and routes. But more importantly patents like these shall provide Walmart and other retailers a chance to compete with Amazon in the consumer delivery market in cities through blockchain.
Another multi national corporation that has come into partnership with IBM for a blockchain based venture is the global shipping giant, Maersk. Announced this year, the venture aims to streamline the global supply chains of freight tracking with tamper-resistant digital records. They plan on achieving this by creating an end-to-end shipping data pipeline. That shall enable all players in a global shipping transaction to securely and seamlessly exchange shipment events and data in real time. Whilst automating paperwork filings for the import and export of goods across national and organisational borders. Many large corporations including DuPont, Dow Chemical and Tetra Pak have already run pilot programmes on the platform. Furthermore, several multinationals such as Proctor and Gamble and General Motors have expressed interest in using the platform. This partnership between Maersk and IBM has great promise and in time may attract some big names onto the platform.
These are just some of the most happening and exciting supply chain projects in the blockchain sphere. Comment below other interesting projects or if you would like to see another such list exploring names in the blockchain in supply chain game.
We have not included ourselves, BriefTrace, in this landscape review, but we view ourselves as a key player. You can learn more about BriefTrace here.
The next part of the blockchain for supply chain players landscape is now available