Supply chain

Transforming the manufacturing industry through built trust

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Blockchain could be the next great disruption that manufacturers need to truly revolutionize their industry. With the potential to reduce cost by multiples, decrease lead time to focus on other core competencies and other great benefits, the application of blockchain will enable manufacturers to generate greater visibility within their manufacturing process and simplify otherwise mundane and costly steps.

Increasingly, with complex manufacturing processes, the demand for parts and material integrity within the supply chain needs to be improved to effectively combat increases in lead time and ultimately lower cost of production. Blockchain has key implications in the production parts approval process, data monetization and control tower dashboard application.

Why blockchain is critical for manufacturers

Blockchain will enable all participants within the manufacturing process to determine what information is critical and considered the single source of truth. Blockchain will allow for manufacturers to virtually eliminate the risk of systemic failure through a decentralized setup. This can be seen through the nature of a blockchain network where each participant must authorize transactions as valid, assuring that all transactions are legitimate.

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Application for blockchain and production parts approval

The production parts approval process (PPAP) dictates the stringent rules imposed by manufacturers on upstream suppliers for parts procurement, and works to create trust between material providers and manufacturers. The focus of PPAP is on 18 critical steps that all require great attention to detail to ensure each part is up to spec.

Blockchain technology can use certificate management to ensure steps such as quality laboratory documentation, are easily accessible and not missed within the process. Certificate management within blockchain, provides manufacturers the ability to have access to all documents, ensuring that what was promised regarding testing is exactly the single source of truth if it comes into dispute. The key place where blockchain would be most beneficial would be in the completion of the part submission warrant (PSW) and the assurance it provides in the level of documentation provided to the manufacturer. As the level of documentation increases in the PSW, it is imperative manufacturers work to capture all relevant data since this will be useful in speeding up the process to approve pre-production parts.

Blockchain also has the potential to transform the PPAP entirely, using a new industry platform that standardizes this process across multiple manufacturing industries. Manufacturers can use blockchain technology to ensure all steps have been completed to agreed specification while minimizing potential disputes that can harm a product’s production cycle. A revamped PPAP platform crafted using blockchain technology, built on The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger projects, can enable manufacturers to focus on core manufacturing operations through a more streamlined and clean PPAP.

The application of blockchain and data monetization

Blockchain technology, by design, can be implemented to solve the data monetization problem and work to draw the literal line between vast data sources. Blockchain will simplify the process of analysis while being built on a foundation of data consistency. Data flowing through a blockchain network will be accessible in mere seconds and not require the complex queries of current traditional methods. Data from IoT devices will be structured from the start into a blockchain network and allow manufacturers to use this data to better understand that information. Blockchain will allow organizations to make the most of the data produced in-house from IoT devices, manufacturing technology and more.

Blockchain technology is intended for cleaning up data and connecting the dots, making it easily accessible and distributable. Furthermore, blockchain technology allows for greater implications in subscription-based services and licensing of data. Blockchain technology stands to open a completely new revenue source for major manufactures seeking to externally monetize data while creating a structured platform, providing added security for data distribution.

Dashboard application for blockchain and control tower

A potential use case for the supply chain control tower and control room, could be the use blockchain technology to develop a dashboard that ensures full data standardization and immutability. A dashboard using blockchain will enable manufactures to syncronize their data for manufactured goods with raw material intended for purchase. A blockchain based solution can allow for greater in-depth analysis of the supply chain and allow for greater predictive and prescriptive analytics. Such a solution can be developed as an in-house specific model or a more universal industry solution platform. Manufactures are at the forefront to change the way raw materials are purchased, all while ensuring the most valuable data within the supply chain process is captured.

Deploy the IBM Blockchain Platform across multiple environments

Associate Partner, Digital Operations, Cognitive Manufacturing Leader - Global Business Services

Akshar Patel

Business Transformation Consultant - Global Business Services

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