There are a growing number of companies and organizations experimenting with the application of blockchains to several types of supply chains. At least on paper, blockchain is a perfect fit for the process of tracking raw materials, through manufacturing, distribution, purchase, consumption and use by customers – along with all the logistics in between these steps.
By having the particular suppliers, transportation companies, import/export and other government agencies, distributors, wholesalers and retailers who participate in any given supply chain on a blockchain – it becomes far easier to a) ensure invoices are accurate, b) trace foods back to the source (e.g. to limit health risks – and prevent deaths like those from a 2012 episode of e-coli infected spinach), c) authenticate the resources in goods (e.g. ensure the absence of “blood diamonds” in jewelry), and d) lower the “frictional cost” of erroneous paperwork (bills of lading, manifests, etc.).
If there’s one company at the center of applying blockchain technology to supply chain integrity – it’s IBM. IBM is testing ‘blockchain powered supply chains’ out with WalMart (tracking Chinese pork from source to consumer), Maersk (replacing the mountains of paperwork as goods get shipped across land, sea, ports and borders),IBM’s own Global Finance division (payment dispute resolution), Heija (Chinese supply chain management company), and several other projects. In addition, there are several start-ups focused on supply chain blockchains – including Provenance, Consensys, and Everledger.