Supply Chain

Enterprise blockchain: Enabling trust in digital manufacturing networks

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As the manufacturing industry moves from a physical to a digital supply chain, new technologies such as additive manufacturing (AM) and computer numerical control (CNC) machining are transforming how companies manufacture, distribute and maintain products. Digital manufacturing has led to a shift toward decentralized manufacturing models in which parts are manufactured at the place and time of need. In a decentralized model, design and engineering data passes through many hands, from industrial companies to suppliers and subcontractors. Ensuring the security and integrity of intellectual property is critical to prevent counterfeits, maliciously modified, poor quality or uncertified parts from entering the physical supply chain once parts are manufactured.

Identify3D provides design protection, quality assurance, and secure traceability for digital manufacturing. We enable encryption of designs, couple them with enforceable business and production rules, facilitate secure digital distribution, and provide production integrity all the way to the manufacturing device. Identify3D assures the secure flow of intellectual property throughout the entire digital supply chain, from the design phase to in-field traceability of parts.

Add greater visibility and efficiency across the entire supply chain

Identify3D’s blockchain enabled solution will create the backbone for a more connected digital supply chain for software and hardware providers. Our recent innovation incorporates blockchain technology that replaces centralized and proprietary databases with a decentralized open data repository. Within a given blockchain, the cryptographically-secured shared ledger preserves the entire recorded history of transactions and ensures data integrity.

We have implemented the IBM Blockchain Platform Starter Plan with one peer node representing an engineering organization and one peer node representing a manufacturing shop. This structure will emulate an advanced manufacturing supply chain in which an engineering organization will authorize a manufacturing organization to produce a set of parts according to licensing restrictions. Using The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Composer we’ve developed two chaincode applications. The first application will issue a license to produce parts, while defining the machine that must be used as well as the number of parts that can be produced. The second application will serve as a ledger to record all transactions and operations of Identify3D applications. We chose the IBM Blockchain Platform Starter Plan due to the extensive security built into Hyperledger Fabric which provides for flexibility in permissioning of transactions and deployment of new peers. In addition, the IBM development tools allow for streamlined deployment and testing of blockchain structures.

Extending the Identify3D licensing network to a blockchain will allow greater openness and transparency between organizations utilizing the Identify3D ecosystem. Instead of trusting Identify3D as the centralized broker of licensing and reporting data, the organizations participating in the network will be able to verify all licensing transactions and manufacturing operations through the data contained within the blockchain.

In the future, we plan to continue to merge the Identify3D licensing network to the IBM Blockchain Platform. With the digitization of manufacturing, we expect an increasing need for organizations within the aerospace, automotive and medical industries to have better control and traceability over their supply chain. With the IBM Blockchain Platform Enterprise network, we plan to deploy the Identify3D ecosystem running on the IBM Blockchain to leading enterprise customers around the world.

From time to time, we invite industry thought leaders, academic experts and partners, to share their opinions and insights on current trends in blockchain to the Blockchain Unleashed blog. The opinions in these blog posts are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of IBM.

Build your skills and deploy game-changing blockchain applications in multiple cloud environments

Chief Scientist, Identify3D

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