IoT and Blockchain in Perishable Supply Chain

Two of the most hyped technologies that supply chain professionals hear about constantly are the Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain. It is becoming increasingly clear that they are destined to be together; this article discusses why this is the case.

Firstly, on security; One of the top concerns about IoT is that a vast network of sensors and devices might pose a significant security threat to an organization. They might be hacked into by some unscrupulous individual. Blockchain alleviates this problem by acting as a highly secure “barrier”. Data from devices is collected outside of the enterprise’s network, distributed across the network nodes and is immutable.

Secondly Blockchain can help solve the interoperability challenges of IoT devices. Still in its early stage of development, IoT is awash with a multitude of protocols and data formats. As yet, there are no unifying standards. Blockchain technology can serve as a uniform way for IoT devices to securely share data across a network of stakeholders.

IoT can leverage the attributes of Blockchain for increased automation. Snippets of computer code, referred to as “smart contracts”, stored in the Blockchain, can execute business logic automatically in real-time. This allows IoT devices to communicate with each other and could even process payments without the need for human intervention, based on the terms contained in the smart contract. For example, if the quantity on the order is shipped, received, and passes inspection then once accepted the payment can be release automatically. No need to wait for an invoice to be generated and processed, which usually takes weeks.

One of Blockchain’s greatest advantages is that it provides a tamper-proof ledger of transactions and events. When supply chain partners embrace Blockchain technology, they are agreeing to use a single, immutable source of the truth. Partners can all be confident in the integrity of their transactions and their data.

One specific example of the use of IoT and Blockchain is the collection of environmental data of products in transit, including temperature, humidity, time, date and location. IoT devices can be placed at all points in the movement of produce from its source to its eventual receipt at a store, restaurant or other outlet. This data can be collected and stored in a Blockchain, providing an immutable record of a specific block of product.

In the event of a dispute or claim related to the quality of the produce, a complete and reliable history of the product can be available for scrutiny. This information may be supplemented by photographs, taken at various shipping and receiving points, which could also be stored in the Blockchain, providing a complete picture of the history of the product.

Depending on the placement of the IoT devices the history, provenance and traceability of product, could be even more complete, down to specific packages.

There are new use cases and opportunities emerging almost daily as new technological capabilities are identified with IoT, Blockchain and other new technologies. Procurant is at the forefront of utilizing new technologies to solve challenging problems in the perishable food supply chain.

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