Blockchain and Manufacturing: A Match Made at the Factory

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There’s been a ton of coverage on how artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and robots are helping push the boundaries of manufacturing. However, we can also add blockchain to this list, as it turns out that blockchain, when coupled with other solutions, can also give manufacturers the ability to be digital leaders.

Blockchain’s ability to support highly connected interactions, decentralized business networks, and open, yet secure transactions, make it a revolutionary technology that should be explored. When it comes to manufacturing, blockchain has the potential to bring forward-thinking solutions to life.

It’s important to remember, however, that blockchain is not a trend in the industry by itself. But, when combined with other technologies emerging in the manufacturing space, blockchain is a great enabler for supporting some of the trends that are happening with industry 4.0.

There are three core features of blockchain that make it a valuable asset for the manufacturing industry:

  • Distributed system of record. With a distributed system of record in the blockchain network, there is no “central” data store that is controlled by one organization. The distributed ledger provides all participants with a view into the data (depending on the framework and its configuration), thus increasing transparency, data distribution timeliness, information sharing, and data access. Security is also improved as there is no one central data store open to external attacks.
  • Security and Trust. Because blockchain utilizes cryptographic techniques and supporting data structures to improve the tamper-resistant nature of a network, it brings trust to a potentially trustless environment. Blockchain facilitates the creation of trust in a network without the need for a centralized third party.
  • Smart Contracts. Smart contracts are embedded business terms or business logic that can be added to a blockchain. This will enable the automation of many processes, the secure handling of contracts, etc.

In the manufacturing industry, when combined with technologies such as IoT and AI/ML, blockchain can support a number of use cases across the various phases of manufacturing, including pre-production, production, and post-production. This may include use cases such as product traceability, simplified information sharing, parts management, supply chain automation, and payments. Blockchain may enhance the ability of organizations to protect the IP associated with design documents, and it may reduce counterfeiting by securing the transactions associated with product provenance. Blockchain is not the ultimate answer as it is only as good as the information provided to it, but it can improve the current status quo by facilitating the secure exchange of information over a decentralized network.

For a more in-depth discussion on how blockchain can help manufacturers be digital leaders,  please watch the webinar: Blockchain and Manufacturing: A Match Made in the Factory.