Is There a Place for Blockchain Technology in the Metal Fabrication Industry?
WalMart recently announced that it, along with its Sam’s Club division, will be requiring the use of blockchain technology to trace production through the delivery of its fresh, leafy greens. The move is being made in an effort to prevent, limit and control foodborne illnesses and more quickly react to food recalls. It would not be surprising to see other fruits and vegetables follow, and eventually even other products.
What does WalMart and leafy greens have to do with metal fabrication? Well, the first thing is while the world of finance has been embracing blockchain for years and 80% of financial institutions have plans to use the technology in the near future, this marks a significant move of the technology into supply chain verification. The second reason is that when a large corporation like WalMart accepts the use of technology such as blockchain, it should cause everyone to think.
A Quick Blockchain Primer
Blockchain is most often described as a digital ledger distributed on a network. While the digital information may be distributed on the network, it may not be copied. That means each individual piece of data can only have one owner. The information is regularly updated and reconciled to be as up to date and accurate as possible. Each one of these updates is what is referred to as a “block”.
Blockchain technology is the foundation of cryptocurrency like Bitcoin. In a little over a decade, it has been proven secure and reliable. Any issues with blockchain technology have been due to human error or hacking. Like the internet, it is redundant and resilient.
Ultimately, blockchain makes everyone accountable to the highest degree.
Blockchain and Metal Fabrication
So how can blockchain affect the metal fabrication industry? As you can imagine any technology that can help verify transactions and suppliers can build trust. “Smart contracts”, for example, can track and trace the guidelines and conditions to meet individual parts of a contract. As each is verified along the blockchain the terms of the agreement can be completed and verified more quickly. Any issues can immediately be addressed through blockchain technology.
For metal fabricators, blockchain can work to verify vendors and to validate their part in the manufacturing process for a manufacturer. Fabricators can be the focus of a blockchain in tracking raw materials being supplied to them, or they can be a part of a blockchain in providing confidence, value and accountability for a manufacturer that they are supplying parts to.
Blockchain, the Internet of Things and Industry 5.0
While the Internet of Things and Industry 5.0 are pushing man and machine closer together through digital technology, blockchain is more focused on validating the identities and efforts of those involved. It can, to a degree, be viewed as online digital accounting that is verified by stakeholders who participate in the ledger. It adds a new layer of trust to data that then may be used as a more powerful fuel in pushing the Internet of Things and Industry 5.0 forward.
In the case of metal fabricators, copper, steel, stainless steel or aluminum parts and accessories may be involved as opposed to leafy vegetables.