Supply chain

An increasing number of organisations are implementing blockchain technologies into their supply chain management, as a means to tackle supply chain vulnerabilities such as theft, counterfeits and quality control issues.

Typically, a supply chain solution in this context will take the form of a permissioned blockchain – in this case, the nodes on the blockchain are known participants (ie., the parties on the supply chain) and require express permission to participate, as opposed to a permissionless blockchain which is accessible by the public and parties may take part anonymously. This can enable transparent end-to-end tracking of physical goods as a product travels down the supply chain, through the use of, for instance, QR codes or barcodes.

Given that each product will be given a unique identifier, such that its journey from manufacturing to the end client will have been recorded in immutable and encrypted ledgers, such record keeping can therefore help to streamline the verification process for all members of the blockchain. This is particularly useful in the pharmaceutical industry, where drugs can be quickly authenticated by wholesalers prior to being sold to pharmacists, or by pharmacists prior to being passed on to patients, and can assist in reducing the number of illegitimate products within the supply chain.

Within the food industry, blockchain technology can help to enhance food safety – in the case of an outbreak of salmonella, for example, the existence of a reliable and up-to-date record of food inventory can be invaluable to quickly and accurately pinpoint the location of potentially contaminated products, so that specific stock can be recalled, while products that are safe to consume can remain on grocery shelves. The traceability of the solution can also be useful in ensuring that products are appropriately and ethically sourced.

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