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Why Enterprises Leverage Blockchain for Supply Chain Applications

Supply Chain

Supply chain efficiency and transparency are becoming more critical as global supply chains become increasingly complex. Traditional supply chains face several challenges including lack of visibility, inefficiencies in documentation, and difficulties in tracking goods. Blockchain technology is an effective tool to address these challenges and drastically improve global supply chain management.

What is blockchain technology? An Overview

Blockchain is a decentralized, immutable ledger that records transactions across multiple nodes (computers). This technology ensures that once data is recorded, it cannot be altered or deleted. This inherent transparency and security make blockchain an ideal fit for supply chain applications.

Enhanced Transparency and Traceability

One of the primary benefits of blockchain in supply chains is enhanced transparency. Every transaction or movement of goods is recorded on the blockchain, providing an immutable audit trail. This transparency allows all stakeholders, from manufacturers and freight carriers to consumers, to trace the origin and journey of products. For instance, in the food industry, blockchain can track a product from the farm to the supermarket shelf. For the burgeoning electric vehicle industry, blockchain-enabled supply chains would allow you to track the EV battery from raw materials to end-of-life recycling. 

Improved Efficiency and Reduced Costs

Blockchain can streamline supply chain operations by automating and simplifying the documentation process. Smart contracts, which are self-executing contracts with the terms of the agreement directly written into code, can automate tasks such as payments and shipment notifications. This automation reduces the need for intermediaries, cuts down on administrative costs, and minimizes the risk of human error.

Enhanced Security and Fraud Prevention

Blockchain’s decentralization makes it highly secure. Each participant in the supply chain has a copy of the ledger, and any attempt to alter a record would require altering all subsequent records across the entire network, which is nearly impossible. This security feature significantly reduces the risk of fraud and counterfeit products. For high-value items such as pharmaceuticals and luxury goods, blockchain can provide a verifiable and tamper-proof record of authenticity.

Better Collaboration and Trust Among Stakeholders

Supply chains often involve multiple stakeholders with varying degrees of trust. Blockchain fosters a collaborative environment by providing a single source of truth that all parties can trust. This shared ledger eliminates disputes and fosters a spirit of cooperation among suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.

Real-World Applications of Blockchain for Supply Chains

There are several real-world applications of blockchain for supply chain. For example, IBM’s Food Trust blockchain network enables participants to trace the journey of food products in real-time.  Walmart is another large enterprise that uses blockchain to manage invoices for freight carriers and track products in its expansive supply chain.

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