While it may be most associated with Bitcoin, blockchain is also taking the logistics world by storm. Blockchain empowers the two most important foundations of logistics, traceability, and transparency with its unique documentation protocol. But, is blockchain the Holy Grail it’s promised to be? Read on to find out.

 

What Is Blockchain?

Blockchain stores records of digital data or events in a tamper-free database. Users can access, inspect, and add to the data, but they can’t alter to delete it, keeping the data completely secure. Today the most well-known programs for supply chain blockchain are by Maersk and IBM.

 

How Is Blockchain Used In Supply Chain?

Blockchain technology improves visibility in tracking and tracing shipments. It’s especially useful for enhancing the trackability of food and drugs as guidelines get more and more stringent regarding tracking. One company is using it to track fish, tracing them from the time they are caught until they are delivered to ensure its origins. Some other companies are using blockchain to lower the cost of doing business in international markets and to promote compliance.

 

How Will Blockchain Affect Supply Chain?

Blockchain allows companies to securely and transparently track transactions, but imagine what else it could do as well. Every touch could be documented, giving an accurate view of the life cycle of the product. By using this information, one could reduce time delays, unnecessary costs, and human error.

 

Think about some other ways blockchain could become a “supply chain operating system” by weighing how this technology could improve the following tasks:

 

  • Tracking purchase orders, receipts, change orders, shipment notifications and other trade-related documents
  • Recording the transfer of assets between supply chain nodes
  • Linking serial numbers, barcodes, and digital tags to physical goods
  • Assigning/verifying certifications of products (i.e. organic, non-GMO, etc.)
  • Sharing information with suppliers and vendors such as manufacturing and delivery processes

 

Why You May Want to Consider Blockchain

Blockchain has many benefits; here are just a few to consider:

 

  • Heightened Transparency.Blockchain documents a product’s entire lifecycle, from origin to delivery and every touchpoint in between. This ensures corporate and any subsequent other guidelines are met. In fact, you can share this information with auditors easily.
  • Better Scalability.Workers can access data from anywhere and more than one person can access the data as needed.
  • Stronger Security.The ledger cannot be deleted or adjusted, reducing the need for audits and unnecessary risk.

 

Blockchain is full of benefits. But, it is still ab new technology and only just starting its evolution. Beta and pilot programs are currently in process for companies interested in being early adopters.