Blockchain – Driving productivity, traceability and customer experience in supply chains

Dr Veronica Martinez from the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) at the University of Cambridge, working with Caroline Burstall and Andrew Noblett at Caterpillar, has used a pilot project to show that blockchain can deliver significant supply chain benefits.

Since blockchain burst onto the scene in 2008, its evangelists have told us that – just like the internet – it will fundamentally change how we all live and work. And it clearly does have that potential.

So far, blockchain has mainly been used for cryptocurrencies, with Bitcoin the best-known example. But this digital technology is much more versatile and has a very broad set of potential uses across a range of sectors.

It essentially enables transactions to take place over a distributed database, with records that cannot be changed and are therefore highly secure [Find a deeper overview at the bottom of this article].

Image courtesy of Depositphotos.

Blockchain is an open platform, so companies can use it to build applications customised to their own needs and their customers’ needs. Some are already considering how they can innovate parts of their business operations in the form of ‘private’ blockchains.

Indeed, blockchain’s versatility means it has been attracting attention as a potentially valuable technology for supply chains. Its ability to handle secure and traceable transactions could strengthen trust among supply chain participants because they can keep track of shipments, deliveries and product quality during transport.

Blockchain is one of the top technologies that will significantly change the way consumers and providers operate. The US, China and Germany, among others, have placed blockchain at the centre of their industrial digital transformations.

Barriers to adoption

Having a resilient, secure and traceable distributed database, through which data – and payments – can be shared within and across organisations will be transformational. Indeed, firms are worrying…

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