In any industry like pharmaceuticals, food, beverages, or chemicals, timely delivery of products as per contractual terms is always critical. However, the delivery of products packaged in the cold supply chain frequently meets with loss of time and costs. It is because, from manufacturing to end consumers, there are many different parties involved in any cold chain. Thousands of shipments pass through many points every day, without any delay. Then, it involves product monitoring, which requires to be conducted in silos across by disparate stakeholders. It gives rise to multiple systems of records, which eventually leads to creating distrust of the legal contracts. Let’s take a look at how the blockchain supply chain application development improves the cold supply chain.
The shipment stage, in which a product reaches its final destination, is known as ‘the last mile’ in logistics. In this stage, arranging the final delivery of cold chain products requires consideration of various essential factors to maintain the integrity of the shipment. For instance, it is essential to ensure that critical labor and temperature-controlled warehouse space is available for timely delivery of specific products. Individual parties track the movement of products packaged within a cold chain. Each party maintains its separate databases and applications to capture transactions and the movement of products throughout the chain. It gives rise to several key challenges:
Blockchain and IoT-based fleet management solutions integrated with the supply chain can enable real-time visibility into shipment conditions for all stakeholders. Cold chains require a micro-level of end-to-end control to maintain products’ integrity. IoT-based processing captures data from connected devices (sensors, RFID tags, and so forth) leveled with the products. Then, the transmit real-time information about the transported items such as temperature, location, speed of transport and storage conditions to the blockchain-powered database. Further, blockchain’s attributes ensure the integrity of cold chain packaged products. Blockchain is a type of distributed ledger technology. Essentially, it is a digital ledger shared across the network. It makes transactions visible to relevant stakeholders while keeping the data integrity intact. Therefore, ensuring minimal cybercrime and fraud.
With the deployment of such a solution, all stakeholders can collectively track the movement of the cold chain packaged products. At the end of their journey, customers can learn about the products’ conditions right from dispatch to delivery. They can also check the history of temperatures at which the products were shipped, the full chain of custody, storage conditions, and more. Blockchain facilitates peer-to-peer communication. It means there is no need to deploy any massive infrastructure across the network.
Although each stakeholder can deploy its application, blockchain will serve as a single database, or in other words, the distributed ledger. Several key features ensure trust across the ecosystem. They include but are not limited to IoT collecting the data of parameters of the cold chain packaged products, such as temperature, location, and storage conditions. Further, Blockchain circulates a distributed ledger using cryptographic techniques and provides a single data store for all parties in the network to view. Also, consensus mechanisms ensure that all parties must agree before a new transaction is added to the shared ledger in the blockchain. It also makes transactions recorded on the ledger that cannot be altered.
The advantages of the distributed ledger-based approach of blockchain include:
At any point in time, all the parties can have a single source or the same data with a single shared ledger.
By comparing the ledger copies of the other parties, they can identify a fraud attempt immediately.
As all parties need to agree and reach consensus, they can detect any human or application errors early in the chain.
Manufacturers can enhance the customer experience significantly as blockchain enables them to connect with the customer directly.
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Blockchain plays a crucial role in ensuring the integrity of the transaction and stored data in a supply chain. The use of other emerging technologies like AI and IoT further strengthens the processes. Especially, they make the cold chain more efficient, effective, and secure, where time is the priority.