This is the second of a two-part series examining the impact of blockchain technology on supply chains. In part I we examined how blockchains work, and the potential game changing impact of this new technology on supply chains as a record keeping, verification, tracking and transaction switching mechanism that makes it easier and safer for businesses to work together over the Internet.
Every time value changes hands, whether physical products, services or money, the transaction can be documented, creating a permanent history of the product or transaction, from source to ultimate destination. Some supply chains are already exploiting this technology, and experts suggest blockchain could become a universal “supply chain operating system” – fundamentally changing the way the following tasks are performed and supply chain systems are built:
- Assigning or verifying certain properties of products, and sharing information about the source or manufacturing process of a product throughout its journey to the point of sale or consumption.
- Tracking and automated matching of the cascade of digitised documents involved in any trade: purchase orders, invoices, receipts, shipment orders and manifests, and other trade-related documents such as bills of lading.
- Recording the quantity and transfer of supply chain assets: pallets, delivery and handling units and containers, as they move between supply chain nodes.
- Providing a decentralised and secure tokenised system to link physical goods to serial numbers, bar codes, RFID tags, etc.