Significant companies are leveraging on Blockchain to solve real-time data access, partners’ privacy, traceability, and auditability challenges. However, the supply chain industry like other industries has low-traceability, complex compliance needs, low flexibility, and difficult stakeholder management and are gaps that Blockchain can fill. Walmart, IBM, and other logistics companies are designing blockchain protocol and smart contracts that will bring a solution.
Consequently, this article highlights the challenges in the food and supply chain industry. It further shows how Walmart and other logistics companies are using Blockchain in the supply chain.
Most diseases are foodborne and as a result of food intake and loopholes in its supply chain. More so other non-foodborne disorders could be prevented if there exists traceability on the supply chain. For instance, if there is better traceability in the supply chain, the Covid-19 case would be easier to trace such that the affected chain, region, or laboratories could be isolated for investigation and proper treatment.
It will be easier to isolate infectious farms than a total economic lockdown. The supply chain industry says a lot about the stability of the economy. However, apart from saving cost, traceability, and greater transparency, the Blockchain in the supply chain has a lot in common.
Nonetheless, Gartner predicted that by 2023, 30 per cent of manufacturing companies with more than $5B in revenue would have to implement blockchain-powered projects. In affirming the Gartner report, Walmart and other logistics companies are already finding solutions to food traceability. Meanwhile, Walmart is one of the most prominent players in the space.
Walmart changing the game with Blockchain
Walmart’s solution is built on Hyperledger Fabric, a private permissioned blockchain to make the first pilot case. Walmart proved that Blockchain in the supply chain is suitable for a decentralized food supply ecosystem. Walmart, together with its technology partner, IBM started a hypothesis with two proof of concept projects in 2018 by tracing mangos and pork in the US and China stores, respectively.
It will be interesting to know that Walmarts first two pilot cases worked and they are currently counting on over 25 products. The pork store traceability project allowed uploading certificates of authenticity to the Blockchain. On the other hand, Walmart, in partnership with IBM and Tsinghua University, ran a pilot case of blockchain and IoT sensors that detect Mexican mangoes shipped to the United States. In the end, it was found that it reduces the time of provenance from 7 days to 2.2 seconds.
What happened is that before shipments, products are labelled with numeric identifiers usually six digits, and each checkpoint is signed and logged. During the shipment journey, the pilot allows Walmart to track farm origins, batch numbers, processing data, expiration dates, storage temperatures, and many other shipping details.
At the delivery point, the pilot case shows that Walmart employees can pull the identification numbers into the web portal within two seconds.
From two products, Walmart can trace the origin of over 25 products from 5 different suppliers, and counting. Interestingly, it confirmed plans to roll out the system to more products in the future by HYPERLINK “https://news.walmart.com/2018/09/24/in-wake-of-romaine-e-coli-scare-walmart-deploys-blockchain-to-track-leafy-greens” \o “https://news.walmart.com/2018/09/24/in-wake-of-romaine-e-coli-scare-walmart-deploys-blockchain-to-track-leafy-greens”announcing that suppliers of fresh leafy greens are encouraged to leave their products using the system.
Other logistics companies using Blockchain in supply chain
Apart from Walmart, one of the biggest eCommerce companies that run a chain of hypermarkets, departmental, and grocery stores all across the globe, there are other companies worthy of note:
FedEx: They joined British Airways in February to indicate interest in applying Blockchain in the supply chain. Since then, they have launched a blockchain-powered pilot program for settling disputes. Besides resolving customer disputes, they also hope to apply Blockchain to store records, according to the vice president of strategic planning and analysis Dale Chrystie.
The British airlines in 2017 tested using Using one unchangeable history source, Blockchain to manage data about flights between London, Geneva, and Miami, the Wall Street Journal said. The pilot case is to reduce conflicting flight information coming from gate monitors, flight apps, and the airline’s website.
Almost every industry will find the importance of Blockchain to cut costs, improve transparency, and other solutions. Hence, the supply chain is not left behind as more companies are indicating interest to leverage blockchains smart contracts, governance, distributed ledger technology in the supply chain.