Blockchain in Supply Chain

Technological advancements have offered a wide range of solutions to several challenges in supply chain in all sectors from shipping to retail to agricultural and more.  Numerous tech innovations have been developed and tested around the world, with diverse degrees of success.  However, those very advancements that have automated hard and time-consuming labor, have also created a series of challenges that are hard to solve. Excessively long supply chains, release of unsafe foods into the market, e-commerce difficulties, and consumer behavior patterns are just a few of the problems to overcome.

Blockchains represent one of the most disruptive technological innovation of the last twenty years.  They can pave the way to groundbreaking research, technology development and disruptive innovation, igniting the creation of revolutionary business models and markets in a wide number of fields, including financial services, commerce, smart contracts, the Internet of Things (IoT), cyber-security, machine-to-machine transactions and many others.  

Blockchain technology is an innovative, decentralized and secure platform for storing and transmitting data. The ability of blockchains to track transactions in an atomic manner makes their deployment desirable when an asset is transferred as they can keep track of the asset’s movements.  While the asset is transferred from point A to point B there might be several intermediate points in between. It is of ultimate importance that the asset is not tampered with, diverted or modified in any way without prior permission.  Blockchains can be used to track sensor measurements and avert any kind of duplication with another malicious value in the same timestamp and thus securing sensor data from malicious attacks.  Its major characteristics is ascertaining trust between unknown parties, ensuring immutability (once information is entered it cannot be modified), enhancing transparency and traceability (transactions are visible to parties in the network and are timestamp), incorporating disintermediation (no third party is required to verify transactions) and resulting in lower costs. The application of blockchain to supply chain management can fundamentally change it by abolishing the bureaucratic paper trail required at present and by eliminating the need for letters of credits, factoring bank financing and detailed inspections.

Blockchain technologies appear to provide us with potential solutions to several challenges that several industries are faced within their supply chain.  Potential solutions may combine blockchain technology and IoT.  Our work focuses on the design and development of blockchain-based supply chain management systems in the areas of agriculture, retail and shipping powered with reverse logistics for green supply chains.