Fragmented, complex supply chains pose many challenges – but blockchain and location intelligence can make them more robust, secure and transparent.
If something goes wrong, it can be difficult and costly to find out where the fault occurred. Through the combination of blockchain and real-time location intelligence, businesses can make the movement of goods more accountable, with the location and state of all items constantly verified with all stakeholders. In turn, this improves consumer confidence and brand reputation.
Blockchain is a distributed ledger. It works as a continuously growing list of records, or blocks, multiplied and distributed to different locations and encrypted. The links are the chains. Each addition is made by a validated source that is part of a trusted network.
Then, via a secured process, the update is spread to all the other blocks. This makes the information within the blockchain system inherently secure.
By layering reliable location data with the intrinsic security of the blockchain distributed ledger function, supply chains gain 100% certainty that an asset is being used at the right place, at the right time, by the right person.
HERE Vice President Erminio di Paola said: “In the context of a large-scale shipping operation, there may be thousands of containers filled with millions of packages or assets. Using a system that can track every asset with full certainty, any concerns can be eliminated about whether the items are where they are supposed to be, or if anything is missing.“
As blockchain expands, the data it records is expanding too. For example, it can show that an asset moved from a specific shelf in a warehouse on a specific street and was moved by a specific truck operated by a specific driver.
Layering mapping capabilities and rich location data to a blockchain record also enables fraud detection. Without blockchain, it cannot be certain that the delivery updates provided are accurate.
With blockchain, the accuracy of transactions can immediately be verified by matching the real location of an item with the location report from a logistics company. As every computer in the network has its own copy of the blockchain, this helps to eliminate failure or fraud.
A new approach
In its 2019 report, the Business Continuity Institute found that 73% of companies surveyed were using Microsoft Excel to plan and monitor their supply chains, as well as to predict and mitigate disruptions. Blockchain can help by automating inventory management, reducing paperwork. Mistakes can be discovered quickly with no need for a human to monitor the system to spot them.
It enables remote working and contactless transactions, which have become increasingly important to keep workers safe.
At the moment, blockchain is used primarily in the large-scale movement of goods, and in financial transactions like cryptocurrencies. But in the future, demand for the security that blockchain provides may rise exponentially, putting the responsibility on infrastructures to develop secure and compliant solutions which can be used by anyone. Until that comes, however, consumers can feel confident that their deliveries will arrive on time, thanks to technologies like location intelligence and blockchain.
Erminio di Paola, Vice President, HERE Technologies