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What's the Real Traction on Blockchain in the Supply Chain?

Major companies ranging from Walmart to Smucker's have started implementing blockchain to track shipments. Find out what's happening and what the technology's results look like today.
By John Monarch
Nov 10, 2019

Digital transformation of supply chain management continues through the increased adoption of digital platforms to track shipments. Blockchain, while a buzzword and an almost ethereal concept to some, is starting to make waves. According to Disruptor Daily, blockchain innovation in the supply chain shows great promise for enabling proactive management of shipping. Faster, cheaper transaction settlement has a proven history of reducing processing time up to 80 percent; when paired with blockchain, payment processing will speed transactions and complete more payments.

Payment processing is only the tip of the iceberg, and major companies around the globe are turning to blockchain to solve their supply chain visibility and traceability challenges. Unfortunately, most companies do not publicize actual rates of use and specific statistics on how blockchain has saved money. However, based on how many companies are leveraging the technology, it is clear that blockchain is finally gaining the traction it needs. Let's get into some use cases.

Specific Use Cases of Blockchain in the Supply Chain
The use cases of blockchain transcend all modes and forms of supply chain management. As a ledger-based technology, blockchain can be applied to any process. Since this article led with the idea of payment processing, let's start there.

Payment Processing: SecurCapital uses blockchain to track payment and settlement terms. Upon verification of such conditions, the platform authorizes payment and completes the transaction.

Pharmaceuticals: Chronicled leverages blockchain networks to track chain-of-custody for pharmaceuticals, notes BuiltIn.com. Documented histories ensure medical authenticity and avoid risks, such as inappropriate storage temperature during transport and more. Similar companies, including Blockpharma, have managed to remove up to 15 percent of all fraudulent, counterfeit medications from the global supply chain.

Apparel: Companies at the G7 Summit voiced concern over the sustainability of the apparel logistics supply chain, including the need to guarantee authenticity. According to Apparel magazine, deployment of blockchain-based platforms in the apparel supply chain can take place within 90 days, undercutting the Grey market as well.

Fresh Food and Produce: Following severe outbreaks of food-borne illnesses, Walmart became the first major retailer to require blockchain in tracking foods from farm to table. Now, Walmart has excited demands, using blockchain to track shrimp supply chains in India, says CoinTelegraph. Since the United States is the largest importer of India's shrimp exports, this demand will force transparency in the market. At the same time, coffee supply chains, including Jacobs Douwe Egberts and Smucker's, are using blockchain to trace coffee beans and products, too.

Manufacturing in General: Comparable to the apparel supply chain, all manufacturers may use blockchain to track products from the cradle to the grave. Tracking includes traceability of components and hardware, which are critical concerns for electronics, automakers and others. Even IKEA falls into this category, using blockchain to avoid counterfeit products and better manage freight.

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