MHI Solutions - Volume 4, Issue 2 - (Page 123)

FULFILLMENT UPDATE Blockchain Technology Provides Better Tracking and Accountability BY kATIE kUEHNER-HEBERT C ertified track and trace using blockchain or other emerging technologies-is there an actual case for this in the next three years? A growing number of experts are certainly bullish on the prospects, and there is movement among the manufacturing and retail industries to explore how to best leverage such technologies for use within their own supply chains. "Track and trace is intended to authenticate products that they are actually what they are supposed to be, by determining their origin and their movement through the supply chain," says Rick Fox, chairman of MHI's Order Fulfillment Solutions Committee. "These issues are important, for example, in the food and drug industry supply chains, where there can be food products that are poisonous or counterfeit drugs." Fox, president and chief executive of MHI member FOX IV Technologies Inc., is also a member of the barcode technology group, BCID-TG, for GS1. Blockchain-the underlying technology under bitcoin-may be the hottest new technology being explored by other industries. According to Wikipedia, a blockchain is a permissionless distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of transactional data records hardened against tampering and revision, even by operators of the data store's nodes. The blockchain is primarily tamper resistant through time-stamping the hash of batches of recent valid transactions into "blocks," proving that the data must have existed at the time. Each block includes the prior timestamp, forming a chain of blocks, with each additional timestamp reinforcing the ones before it, thus giving the database type its name. Each blockchain record is enforced cryptographically and hosted on machines working as data store nodes, extending this validation to the network as a whole. For the supply chain, the blockchain algorithm provides a secure spreadsheet located on the Internet to identify and track a product's history within the supply chain anywhere in the world without the need for a trusted intermediary, Fox says. "I think the blockchain technology can be the critical global enabler for track and trace," he says. "As bitcoin has demonstrated, it is impossible to be hacked. Trust between users is not required, it allows for the disintermediation of third-party providers." One way this could be accomplished is for manufacturers to put unique QR codes on every product such that anyone with a smart phone could access and confirm the entire transaction history of that product, Fox says. Each movement would be time-stamped, which could permit the identification of counterfeit drugs as well as the source of contaminated foods. John Ashodian, marketing manager, logistics automation at MHI member Sick Inc., says that blockchain technology "is an exciting, and potentially game * MHI SolutIonS 123

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MHI Solutions - Volume 4, Issue 2

CEO Update
Emerging Technologies Produce Business Benefits and Talent Challenges
Developing a Talent Management Strategy
Collaborating with Education
Love your Supply Chain Career?
The Power of Mentoring
Eleven Ways to Diversify the Supply Chain: Insights from the Field
How Do You Build A Successful Career in Supply Chain?
Donated Equipment Gives High School, Community College Students Hands-On Experience
Industry Focus: Retail
MODEX 2016
2016 MHI Innovation Award to be Presented at MODEX 2016
Industry Trends
Economic Market Analysis
The Jobs, Wages, Output and Taxes of the Supply Chain
Safer Handling
Solutions Group Update
Fulfillment Update
Solutions Spotlight
Scholarship Winners: Where Are They Now?
MHI News
Index of Advertisers

MHI Solutions - Volume 4, Issue 2