The supply chain process is far from perfect.
Though the industry is experiencing relative stability, its processes have been experiencing problems ever since. From counterfeit items, to low quality products, to health concerns, the supply chain industry have had solutions that come and go. As the industry grows, consumer trends highlighted the importance of trust in the ecosystem. Buyers and customers nowadays want to know where the products come from, possibly due to previous experiences of product failures.
When a product gets recalled or is reported defective, customers and companies alike always look for something or someone to blame. The supply chain is such a long and arduous process that regulations and solutions have saturated the industry. But with the recent trend of blockchain among industries, having blockchain and supply chain work together is closely being looked at. And one company claims to have boosted its efficiency through blockchain.
The Supply Chain Process—And Common Problems
The supply chain process differs for every product and company. But even so, the process involves similar things altogether.
It starts from production of a raw material. This could be anything that could planted, grown, or harvested from nature. These companies or entities would be the suppliers. Their main goal is to start the supply chain and send out raw materials to their clients. They would initiate the whole supply chain process and they would offer the best pricing for a product. Commonly, these suppliers have minimal communication with the supply chain. An example of which are farmers, who often have minimal ideas regarding pricing and deal with health concerns.
After which, they would send the raw materials to a manufacturing company. These would be the producers. They would create or produce whatever product is to be sold and send them out to retailers. Often, manufacturers deal with high inventory. At this part, the supply chain process becomes tedious. Products need to be traced and monitored closely for quality before being sent to retailers.
Retailers sell directly to the consumers. And retail stores are places where a consumer can buy the product. These can be physical stores or online stores (which would then be called online retail). These retailers have fewer inventory processes and high pricing. At this point in the supply chain process, the concern is selling to the customer. And the customer fulfills the last part of the supply chain.
The Blockchain and Supply Chain Relationship
Supply chain companies are aware of the existence of the blockchain trend. This could start a wave of supply chain blockchain projects. However, most supply chain companies reported regarding lack of practicality in using blockchain. The issue of supply chain blockchain isn’t the lack of advantages or benefits. The industry is aware how blockchain can help the industry. But most of them aren’t convinced that they need it.
Current supply chain processes are substantially stable. The real faults and loopholes with the supply chain process are the mistakes of the people that deal with the paperwork. The whole process of transferring and importing and selling is quite clear. But people have misplaced documents and have made inventory mistakes.
A decentralized ledger seems like a good fit to the supply chain industry. Communication would be faster, processes would be verified easily, and responsibility over a product is emphasized. But blockchain and supply chain have been aloof with each other. With supply chain managers saying they don’t need it, and the blockchain industry experiencing stagnancy or fatigue with the rest of the world. They still question if they need blockchain adoption. But that doesn’t mean supply chains haven’t been trying it out.
What Pepsi Co Did Right
Contrary to the statement of most supply chain managers, Pepsi Co reported a 28% increase in productivity in their supply chain process. The experimental project called “Project Proton” dealt with common industry challenges with programmatic advertising. They reported using smart contracts to combat supply chain reconciliation. Reconciliation is the process of matching physical inventories with written inventories. The process proves tedious considering the demand of inventory in the supply chain process. But the smart contracts and ledger made it easier.
Blockchain and supply chain may not happen in an instant. But easing out the arduous processes can prove beneficial to the industry, offering something more advantageous than the current system. The success of Project Proton would convince Pepsi Co to do a second trial with blockchain and supply chain.
What This Means for Supply Chain Blockchain
The Proton Project dealt with only a single problem in the supply chain process. Product recalls, food-borne diseases, supply chain paperwork, and communication are some things that blockchain and supply chain can work on together. The need might not yet be there, but the benefits are strong and noticeable. There are many companies experimenting with supply chain blockchain aside from Pepsi Co. And so far, most supply chain blockchain projects have reported success. The widespread adoption of blockchain have a long way to go. The root of acceptance comes from the difficulty in transition. If blockchain software becomes easy for both companies and consumers, then it will be easier to adopt.
For more blockchain updates, check out EOI Digital blog page.