What? Why? How?
What is SCM?
Look around you. Everything that you have bought, be it your mobile, your laptop, your medicine or even the loaf of bread which got delivered in the morning, would have a story attached to it. How did the company that manufactured the product obtain the raw materials? How were they transported to your local seller and then finally made their way into your life?
Every product has an origin story and that story is called Supply Chain Management(SCM).
What is a Blockchain?
In simple terms, Blockchain is a distributed, decentralised, immutable ledger. Yes, maybe that wasn’t so simple. Let me further break it down:
Distributed: There is no single server. There is a pool of servers interconnected to each other doing a specific task.
Decentralised: No single server has the authority to take a decision. The decision has to be made in a consensus.
Immutable: Information once stored can never be deleted.
Think of Blockchain as a Database that can never be overwritten. Ideally it separates the concept of Data Security and Data Integrity. You can view all the data but you can never alter it.
You can read more about blockchain here.
Why SCM with Blockchain?
How do you know that the bread that you are about to eat has not expired? You check the "Best Before date" that the company has stamped on the bread and trust the company to have provided correct details on it right? So basically you trust the company to provide correct information. In today's world it's all about building trust with customers. A Company will only be as successful as the trust it has built with its customer base. So how does a new company build its trust? Imagine spending a boat load of money in marketing to build it but even then it will take a lot of work and loss upfront.
Blockchain solution helps both sides in this kind of a scenario. Having a verifiable product on blockchain can help the buyer in deciding if a new product is genuine or not and also help the company in building trust.
Imagine if you have to buy a medicine. You go to a chemist and purchase it. Before purchasing it you scan the HashKey of the product provided to you on a Universal blockchain(Mobile App) and verify if the composition is correct and if the compounds used are valid and finally if the strip is genuine or not. Imagine doing this with hand sanitisers and masks. Imagine how easy will it be to identify if the chemist is selling you fake products.
Considering how the counterfeit market is booming due to the COVID situation, a solution with a Blockchain implementation will help you in deciding if a product you bought is the real deal or not.
The how part of it can be broken down into the following parts:
1. Create a Permissioned Blockchain network using Hyperledger Fabric or Hyperledger Sawtooth.
2. Add various stake holders as Peers. For example the Raw Products Supplier, Manufacturer, Transporters, Distributors and Consumers.
3. Provide role based access to all of them and let them update the current status of any product they work with. For example let the chemist update that a certain product with HashKey was sold to a customer with the following unique ID.
4. Create a consensus mechanism which handles any invalid information.
5. Build an app with which a user can verify the state and status of a product any time he or she likes.