Chris Canale, WWT Head of Business Development for Asia Pacific, authored a recent article for Supply Chain Asia. In it, he discusses how Blockchain will be able to vastly improve both time and cost efficiencies in the supply chain, as well as WWT supply chain services.

Posted by Supply Chain Asia on September 3, 2018:

What is blockchain?

Blockchain is a term that has become closely associated with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum due to their wild swings in monetary value and immense popularity in recent years. From a technological point of view, blockchain is a shared digital ledger or database – a continuously growing list of records called blocks which are shared across a network and are tamper-resistant.

Users may access, inspect and add to the encrypted data, but the original information cannot be changed, and every transaction leaves a permanent record. Every addition to the chain is also reflected simultaneously across the entire network, making blockchain the technology that will possibly revolutionise the entire supply chain.

Blockchain-ing the supply chain

The supply chain has seen little change since the introduction of standardised shipping containers decades ago. The current system relies heavily on manual checks and paper records to track shipments and manage inventory.

A simple shipment of flowers or fruit from Asia to Europe might involve hundreds of paper documents across dozens of customs and logistical checkpoints. A single lost or erroneous form could get the shipment stuck in port for several days, causing costly delays and even spoilage of perishable food or agricultural products.

Blockchain will be able to vastly improve both time and cost efficiencies in the supply chain by automating many of the currently manual processes and increasing transparency by allowing for real-time tracking of shipments for all parties – the sender, recipient, shipping company and so on. Blockchain can be combined with other technologies such as RFID and IoT to further automate certain processes, such as inventory checks and stock takes, both in the warehouse and along the supply chain.

Blockchain can also increase the safety of the supply chain by allowing easy traceability of goods such as food items. In cases of food safety lapses, such as E. coli or listeria outbreaks, having a blockchain-enabled supply chain can help pinpoint the source of contamination or batch of affected products in a matter of hours and minutes, compared to the current system which might take days and even weeks.

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