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Shifting the paradigm in sharing end-to-end supply chain information

By Brian Cassidy – IT Director, Exertis Global Operations

In the medium term, Blockchain, as a technology, promises transformational benefits to industry and society. However, a lot of these transformations are still years away from being realised commercially. The Exertis Supply Chain Blockchain Platform is ready and available now.

Tech organisations involved in global supply chains share an interest in product & component demand, channel inventory and provenance data. Although large investments in IT systems and integration have been made over the past 20 years, and indeed continue to be made to this day, the sharing of this end-to-end view of real-time supply chain information is still severely constrained.

The problem is that no single industry player owns the product and its constituent components from start to finish, and no one party is trusted to centrally track the data. Compounding that, in the supply chain of a single finished technology product, the same industry players can act as buyers and sellers to each other, and even in some cases as competitors. As a result, although relationships are underwritten with legal contracts, there is little appetite to share data. This results in stock holding inefficiency – oversupply, bottlenecks and shortages. Where information is shared, it’s typically only with partners one hop up or down the supply chain. Rarely does the live information flow any further (think component manufacturer sharing stock holding data with OEM, or distributor sharing with reseller; but not component manufacturer sharing with all parties right through to reseller).

As the lead partner in a ‘Government of Ireland – Disruptive Technology’ funded project, Exertis Global Operations is implementing a new paradigm, that will enable the sharing of end to end supply chain information without the need for trust.

The solution is based on blockchain technology and a shared consortium governance model. Parties will be able to contribute what they want, with whom they want, all at the level of batch or product serial number, in real time. They will each have complete and autonomous control over their data. No trust is required. They will be able to engage with this platform without having to replace their existing IT systems and can re-use their existing integrations (EDI and webservices).

The solution that is now in testing solves two problems – trust is not required between parties and end-to-end visibility is easily accomplished. The platform can be retrofitted due to the specific nature of the data – tracking goods movements.

The platform offers significant benefits, including:

  • Live visibility of orders across the full supply chain of a product
  • Detailed product provenance information by product serial number – this is key to reducing counterfeit product and managing warranty liability,
  • Simplified financial reconciliation for promotional rebates,
  • Overall reduction in IT integration overhead for all players – integrate once with the platform rather than separately with each partner
  • Vastly improved market analytics across the entire supply chain of a finished technology good

Exertis Global Operations, with its partners Sonalake – an open source software development house, and UCD’s Centre for Advanced Data Analytics Research, are now well advanced in the platform development. The first release, covering digital asset license management is on track to go live in 2020.

In the medium term, Blockchain, as a technology, promises transformational benefits to industry and society. However, a lot of these transformations are still years away from being realised commercially. The Exertis Supply Chain Blockchain Platform is ready and available now.

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