Better with Blockchain
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March 3, 2019

Better with Blockchain

Bringing new security to universal product traceability

By Joe Schutte

One staff meeting, Frank Yiannas, Vice President of Food Safety at Walmart, placed a pack of mangos on the table and charged the food safety group to trace back the genealogy of the package from the store, to the distributor, to the processor, and ultimately, to the farm. Six days and 18 hours later, it was clear Walmart had a food traceability problem.

Traceability issues such as these are all too common in today’s global supply chain. In the supply chain of times past, traceability was far less pivotal as products were produced near their final destination and tracked via paper records. Today’s supply chain has become far more globally distributed and yet, producers are still maintaining the same record keeping systems of old. With millions or billions of products in circulation, physical records limit an organization’s insight into its supply chain, proving problematic in cases of tampering, counterfeiting, or security compromises.

But it’s not enough to merely digitize traceability. In today’s dynamic supply chain, new security threats continue to emerge, risking the integrity and accuracy of data records. Meanwhile, data must be accessed by a greater number of stakeholders than ever before—from the suppliers of sub-components, to manufacturers, distributors, retailers, end consumers, and even governmental entities. So with new traceability and new accessibility must also come a heightened level of security.

Leading this charge is Blockchain. A distributed database that houses tamper-resistant digital records, Blockchain allows individuals throughout the supply chain to view previous entries with ease and add data to the chain without impacting prior entries. For companies with complex and wide-reaching supply chains, Blockchain provides the ability to track:

Many Products

The global supply chain is vast, with a myriad of moving subcomponents and products for organizations to document. Maintaining distinct, detailed records at scale proves challenging for organizations with a myriad of production, distribution, and retail facilities, particularly as they seek to maintain strict timetables. With a Blockchain-enabled database, however, adding a new product is as simple as a single scan, empowering organizations to implement across the supply chain without compromising on speed or efficiency. Plus, with the capacity to store highly-granular insight no matter how many sub-components or SKUS are being tracked, Blockchain scales records to an organization’s furthest reaches.

Many Places

For the modern-day supply chain, no coast is too distant to reach. However, when operating on a global scale, tracking products from origin to end of life leaves room for error, with organizations often unable to distinguish accurate records from the corrupt. Enter Blockchain. An essential tenet of Blockchain is its ability to link data record to data record, thus eliminating points for data to drop. For global supply chains, this equates to accurately tracking millions of products simultaneously with scans at set checkpoints. Every scan contributes to the same digital record, and no record can be alternated retroactively—putting an end to the supply chain errors that prevail in standard record keeping systems.

Many Stakeholders

From manufacturers to distributors, sellers, brands, and customers, there are many stakeholders across the global supply chain that require controlled access to product genealogies. With Blockchain, stakeholders are able to access relevant records on demand, and even supplement entries with their own information. All this can be done on an additive basis, which means that records can only be augmented, but not removed or tampered with. By only allowing stakeholders to add to the chain rather than alter it, Blockchain prevents any one stakeholder from compromising records, securing records against accidental or malicious threat.

Many Needs

In the event of a product recall, there is no room for uncertainty. If records are unclear or incomplete, all products must be pulled from shelves, ultimately prolonging the time to resolution. For industries such as food and beverage, where government mandates only require “one back, one up” traceability, records are often kept in isolation, making it harder to trace items back to their origin and more likely that errors will occur. Blockchain-based databases, however, eliminate the confusion of decentralized data storage. By compiling records into a single, tamper-proof ledger, Blockchain provides consensus on the origin of every good, allowing organizations to be confident in the reliability and integrity of their records. In the end, this empowers accurate product recalls at unprecedented speed.

One, Incorruptible Record

Blockchain is the cornerstone technology for global supply chain traceability, providing a complete, accurate data record that crosses products, places, stakeholders, and needs.

At Ashton Potter, we embrace the technological innovations that allow us to offer better supply chain security to our customers. That’s why we pair our high security labels with an advanced, Blockchain-enabled technology to offer real-time, tamper-resistant access to records at any stage of production, distribution, or sale. Plus, with the ability to start fresh for organizations currently documenting records by hand or to integrate seamlessly into existing systems and business intelligence tools, we can bring Blockchain to any organization, regardless of their current technological footprint.

Are you ready to block out your most advanced supply chain challenges? Talk to a member of our team to get started.

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