Blockchain’s Applications in Modern Manufacturing
The manufacturing industry faces more than a few obstacles as we enter the 2020s. Some difficulties arise from the inefficiencies of outdated technology. Others come from managing reliability in the supply chain. As manufacturers seek to find stability and a sustainable path forward, they’re turning once again to one of the biggest buzzwords of the past few years: blockchain.
Blockchain technology is slowly coming into its own in modern manufacturing, with applications specifically designed to remedy industry pain points. Here’s a look at a few of the most prominent applications blockchain offers modern manufacturing.
Supply chain monitoring
Complex supply chains often leave companies vulnerable to risks, which usually manifest in undesirable expenses. Blockchain solutions make automation of the supply chain possible. With secure protocols that connect the many checkpoints of the supply chain to a distributed ledger, stakeholders will always know where their supplies are. This not only alleviates the uncertainty recently exposed in global supply chains but also creates a truly secure chain of custody.
Maintaining security is of the utmost importance for any manufacturing company. Contracts and invoices include a variety of sensitive information — not just for the manufacturing company but also for all other related parties participating in the transaction. Blockchain provides impressive cybersecurity via cryptography techniques. Threats of hacking are all but eliminated by a ledger that’s incorruptible. Modern manufacturing can now rely on a blockchain-powered Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to streamline, organize, and protect operational documentation.
From executives to remote consultants, there’s a wide range of stakeholders with access to vital (sometimes proprietary) data. For that reason, identity management is highly important. It’s critical to prevent fraud when collaborating — especially when data crosses back and forth across the company ecosystem. Blockchain offers features such as warranty management, funds transfer facilitation, and stakeholder access — all in support of identity management.
From production to the final destination, blockchain makes it easy to track assets across the value stream. How does this work? IIoT sensors already used for predictive maintenance can relay information about production to a central monitoring station. Managers can pair this data with batch and lot numbers, referencing a blockchain ledger that’s accurate and infallible. Moreover, it’s easy to access this information remotely, through any version of the distributed ledger where the IIoT records this data.
Blockchain secures quality assurance of manufacturing products. Modern manufacturing already has the tools needed for predictive maintenance. Now, with the addition of blockchain, machine learning and smart applications can order parts and equipment, automating part of the value stream. With accurate maintenance predictions and smart technology to carry out replacement orders, quality assurance has never been easier.
Tasks such as managing warranties, ordering replacement parts, and filling contracts may seem tedious, but their accuracy is absolutely essential. Blockchain steps in to ensure total accuracy regarding regulatory compliance. Blockchain offers smart contracts, which offer a go-to contract standard, intellectual property protections, and secure payments. This standardization, coupled with protections, allows for modern manufacturing to easily meet regulatory compliance rules.
More than just a buzzword
While it’s been a popular piece of jargon for the past few years, blockchain has multiple applications in modern manufacturing. And they’re becoming more essential with each passing month. They’re centered around increased efficiency, effective automation, and added security. These features each contribute to a much-needed modernization in the manufacturing workflow.