Managing today’s supply chains—all the links to creating and distributing goods—is extraordinarily complex. Depending on the product, the supply chain can span over hundreds of stages, multiple geographical (international) locations, a multitude of invoices and payments, have several individuals and entities involved, and extend over months of time.
Due to the complexity and lack of transparency of our current supply chains, there is interest in how blockchains might transform the supply chain and logistics industry.
Let’s look at what is broken, how the unique attributes of blockchain could help and look at a few examples of blockchain already impacting supply chains.
How is the supply chain broken?
Our current supply chain is broken in several ways. Over a hundred years ago, supply chains were relatively simple because commerce was local, but they have grown incredibly complex.
Throughout the history of supply chains there have been innovations such as the shift to haul freight via trucks rather than rail or the emergence of personal computers in the 1980s that led to dramatic shifts in supply chain management.
Since manufacturing has been globalized, and a large portion of it is done in China, our supply chains are heavy with their own complexity.
It’s incredibly difficult for customers or buyers to truly know the value of products because there is a significant lack of transparency in our current system. In a similar way, it’s extremely difficult to investigate supply chains when there is suspicion of illegal or unethical practices.
They can also be highly inefficient as vendors and suppliers try to connect the dots on who needs what, when and how.
What is blockchain and how could it help supply chains?
While the most prominent use of blockchain is in the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, the reality is that blockchain—essentially a distributed, digital ledger—has many applications and can be used for any exchange, agreements/contracts, tracking and, of course, payment.
Since every transaction is recorded on a block and across multiple copies of the ledger that are distributed over many nodes (computers), it is highly transparent. It’s also highly secure since every block links to the one before it and after it. There is not one central authority over the blockchain, and it’s extremely efficient and scalable.
Ultimately, blockchain can increase the efficiency and transparency of supply chains and positively impact everything from warehousing to delivery to payment. Chain of command is essential for many things, and blockchain has the chain of command built in.
Want more information on how you can improve your supply chain using modern technology? Contact Meraki Consulting at +27 010 595 4934 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.