A Use Case for Blockchain in Thorium’s Supply Chain Traceability

Posted by : Mudit Kumar | 10-Dec-2019

  • Thorium Supply Chain Traceability blockchain

    In this use case, we have discussed how technologies like Blockchain, AI (Artificial Intelligence), and IoT (Internet of Things) can fulfill the requirements of traceability, security, and efficiency of a supply chain of Thorium for sustainable energy generation.

    Blockchain, an Innovative Type of a DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology)

    Essentially, blockchain acts like a digital ledger shared across network participants. It stores information in an immutable way. All participants in the network get the same copy of the data at a given time. As a result, it enables decentralization in the network while leaving no single point of failure. However, changing the ledger data warrants a consensus of network participants. It means that without achieving network consensus, it is insurmountable to alter or change data stored on the blockchain. 

    While discussing blockchain, it is essential to identify its two types and their applications that serve different business purposes. One is a permissionless/public blockchain that enables anyone to join and get full rights to use it. Another is permissioned/private blockchain for enterprises. Permissioned blockchains restrict access to pre-verified users who have already proven their identities. Also, they allow anyone to join but let only trusted identities verify transactions on the blockchain. 

    Accelerating Transformation Across the Supply Chain with a Permissioned Blockchain Network

    We will use a permissioned blockchain solution as an underlying infrastructure for supply chain traceability, visibility, and security from the mine to the power-plant. Hyperledger Fabric, NEM, Credits, and Corda are a few of the most suitable blockchain platforms for this purpose. A permissioned blockchain that enables only verified participants to join its ecosystem is required to implement robust Thorium handling measures. The solution can onboard only permissioned participants to involve in supplying Thorium. It can include authorized miners, freight providers, and others. It enables them to create and track end-to-end supply chain information about Thorium while making it accessible to all yet secure. 

    Blockchain Platforms for Permissioned Traceability Solution

    Hyperledger Fabric

    It is a permissioned distributed ledger technology (DLT) platform with a highly modular and configurable architecture designed for enterprise contexts, including finance, healthcare, supply chain, and human resources.

    NEM Enterprise

    It provides powerful modular customization for virtually any application where speed and privacy are essential. Developers can build fintech systems, decentralized notarizations, and supply chain and logistics solutions with traceability.

    Credits for Enterprises

    Its supply chain platform provides automation, management, and delivery control of goods and services at each stage/process. It provides transparency in transactions and reduces operational costs.

    Corda Enterprise

    It is a distributed ledger technology that employs known identities to establish trust and keep transactions private between interacting parties. It reduces the effort required to maintain data consistency while enabling it to scale and manage a higher volume of transactions. 

    Integrating technologies like AI (Artificial Intelligence), the Internet of Things (IoT), and others can further augment the blockchain solution for accurate real-time system entry of generated data. 

    Integrating AI, IoT, and Blockchain with Technologies like RFID, GPS, and more

    The supply chain process will begin with loading it into air-tight containers and equipping them with tamper-evident sealing devices. Integrating near Field Communication (NFC) or Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)-enabled chips, weight sensors, micro GPS tracking, and other sensors facilitates efficient asset tracking. 

    The RFID microchip will establish a digital identity and act as an identifier for the container. It will contain important identifying information about every touchpoint of the supply chain like, 

    • Type of material
    • UN Number and shipping name
    • Weight of containers 
    • Point of origin
    • Destination and delivery date
    • Identity of the individuals handling the shipment at each point

    Additionally, integrating wireless level monitoring IoT devices and AI-powered facial recognition and motion sensors in the process notifies parties about any movement in real-time. They provide the ability to monitor the chemical shipment in real-time. 

    Fill Level or Weight Alerts

    Notifications about weight deviation from a threshold

    Theft Alerts

    Enterprise-grade security with a reliable alerting system 

    Temperature Alerts

    Immediate alerts about the temperature deviation

    Shipment Route Tracking

    Live traceability of shipment and route optimization

    Facial Recognition Security

    Security of shipments with digital identification 

    All this digital identification and logistical information will be available on the blockchain network, accessible to all permissioned parties.

    While the integrated sensors will provide the ability to monitor the shipment status in real-time and issue alerts about suspicious activities, a permissioned blockchain solution will make this data secure and visible only to the network participants. It will enable respective stakeholders to receive regular alerts and notifications of every event and action defined as business rules.

    Further, smart contract integration with blockchain will automate necessary business rules and contracts between the transaction participants, such as payments and audits. It will reduce heavy paperwork and the risk of human-prone errors in data and information. 

    Smart contracts are self-executing, complex if-then statements written into codes. They only execute transactions when parties fulfill established business conditions. 

    A High-level Overview of Thorium’s Supply Chain Traceability, From Mine to Power Plant

    The shipment of Thorium containers leaves by a truck from the mine site with all devices and sensors attached to provide real-time information about the shipment. 

    As any supply chain update is available after the shipment exit from the mine site, blockchain creates an entry, a record entry in a decentralized ledger. It can be anything, including GPS location or data update from IoT devices and sensors placed inside the containers. It can also be a temperature, weight, or shipment route deviation from the defined limits or even driver change before the delivery update. 

    Each record will refer to a specific asset or shipment ID, with the current timestamp in milliseconds and other custom parameters. All details will become available on the blockchain, including the shipment process, from the mine to the power plant. Additionally, we can integrate this data with other systems via APIs, making it possible to connect with ERP and other legacy systems.

    Conclusion

    As discussed above, a distributed ledger could be a viable solution for provenance and other logistical purposes. Because data updates, consumption, and storage happen in a decentralized way, it creates a trustless environment. Everybody gets access to the same data and full ledger of records from the first transaction with complete transparency and traceability.

    However, blockchain technology cannot establish provenance traceability on its own. It needs efficient integration support from ERP systems, supply chain management solutions, IoT smart tracker hardware systems, and more. Also, processes, operations, legal frameworks, and conventional technology need to envelop blockchain to make this use-case operational.

    Not to mention, it will require the support of a blockchain supply chain development company for its realization. 


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About Author

Mudit Kumar (Writer)

Mudit has been working with Oodles since 2017. He writes about technologies that not only disrupt the digital space but also influence the physical world. Initially, he explored revolutionary technologies like ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and AI (Artificial Intelligence). Now, he focuses on unfolding the elements of blockchain technology, given its potential and edge over others.

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