Data manipulation is still an unsolved issue. The topic “blockchain”, omnipresent in the media, could be the solution. Although there are news such as “The Maersk shipping company is using the first blockchain-based insurance platform to insure more than 1,000 freighters”, uncertainty in logistics is still high: How to best use blockchain?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of blockchain for supply chain management and logistics processes of companies?
What is Blockchain at all – and why is there a hype?
Blockchain is the concatenation of data records. It is mainly used for security. In recent years, there has often been the problem that blackmail trojans (ransomware) have reached central servers and blocked the entire network. Unlike central servers, a blockchain platform has a distributed structure. Generally, this makes it more difficult to block or even manipulate data from the outside. In addition, blockchain uses cryptography. Data is stored repeatedly and resulting blocks are coupled with each other. Thus, data manipulation is no longer possible.
Regarding logistics, this means the following: On the one hand, networking and transparency of business processes. On the other hand automation, which reduces employees workload.
But of course there is also criticism: The new technology must be well understood in order to function properly. Additionally, it is still unclear which use there will be in supply management. Currently, the technology consumes a lot of electricity and works slowly.
Blockchain is even able to prevent horse meat in lasagna
Hans-Georg Kaltenbrunner ( Vice President Industry Strategy for Manufacturing in EMEA at JDA Software) explains in wirtschaftswoche.de that supply chains in the German food industry are monitored mainly manually. If supply chains were secured with blockchain, scandals like horse meat in lasagna would no longer be that easy to realize. Data in a blockchain cannot be falsified easily. For example, if the amount of meat delivered suddenly increases because goods have been adulterated, the system would immediately alert all parties involved – from the producer to the dealer.
Blockchain in logistics: status quo and outlook
In logistics, blockchain is currently more present in theory than in practice. But actually, there are a few guinea pigs. DHL is currently exploring blockchain together with Accenture. DB Schenker recently started a cooperation with the blockchain platform VeChain.
According to Wirtschaftswoche, IDC estimates that companies will invest around 2.1 billion US dollars in blockchain solutions this year. This volume is expected to increase fivefold by 2021. However, the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) at the University of Potsdam warns against exaggerated expectations: “Researchers identified logistics and IoT applications as potential blockchain winners. One problem, however, is the lack of standardization. After all, all machines connected via blockchain have to speak the same language.”
Blockchain is rightly a big topic in logistics. Success will depend on whether technical hurdles can be overcome. However, the strong interest of the industry and the willingness to invest predicted by market researchers show that there is already movement.
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