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Supply Chain Management using Blockchain

Have you ever thought where your smartphone came from, where the parts were manufactured and assembled, or the clothes we buy and the food products we eat? Besides the transport of goods, there are many inter-linked actions which finally result in the end product delivered to us. An inspection, maintenance of these inter-linked elements for the Supply Chain Management.

Supply Chain offers the capability to inspect an end product and trace it back to its roots while providing transparency to the user and assure its authenticity. When we apply the operating philosophy of Blockchain in to Supply Chain Management, we can create a truly transparent global network of different organizations sharing secure data internally through its Smart Contracts mechanism and easy tracking of data in the block chain.

The Traditional way of building a Supply Chain Management application is complex in terms of the application architecture and implementation as there are various parties involved and data transfer between them needs to be secure. Also, there is an overhead cost of duplication of data by all parties involved and keeping them in sync and updated after each transaction. Reconciliation of such transactions takes more time. Transparency of information is also delayed as information needs to be fetched from a specific entity and there can be different governing rules for procuring such information. It can take a single day or more than that if different geographical locations are involved. All this can be solved by adopting Blockchain.

Prolim decided to build a Supply Chain Management Network / Application by adopting the Blockchain implementation due to its benefits of decentralized ledger maintenance and Execution of Smart Contract offering the highest Transparency and Security to all the parties involved while reducing overall cost. We are building a blockchain network for management and tracking of Automotive Metallic Hoods which includes parties that supply the metallic hoods, Press and Shape the metallic hoods and finally an automotive manufacturer which assembles these hoods on to Car Chassis bodies, Bonnets and Doors etc…,

Application Architecture:

iot-supplychan-architecture

Outlined below is a brief explanation on each block

Hyperledger Fabric:

There are many open source Blockchain Implementations and Frameworks out on the internet like Bitcoin, Ethereum and many more which leans toward the financial transaction and security using Blockchain. We wanted to build a Supply Chain Management using Blockchain and therefore decided to go with HyperLedger Fabric an open source Blockchain Framework created by the joint efforts of The Linux Foundation, IBM and contributions later on from Intel, SAP.

Hyperledger Fabric acts as a managed service forming a highly secure network between involved parties with an underlying decentralized ledger maintaining all the blockchain data shared between the parties. It also takes care of replication of data and keeping it in sync between all parties. The different elements of a Hyperledger Fabric Blockchain Network are as below:

Client-Side Application and REST API’s:

The interaction with the Hyperledger Fabric is achieved through executing various CLI Commands to invoke the Chaincode functions which are the only ways to insert, delete and update the ledger data. We have created wrappers around these chain code functions using NodeJS along with Express JS library and created public REST Endpoints which can be used to interact with the blockchain ledger.

These REST Endpoints are then consumed in our Client-side application developed using Mendix Platform with its Low code capabilities providing us speed and agility in the Client development cycle.

The Mendix built application will have following functionalities:

Conclusion

Blockchain offers many advantages over a traditional network and flow of data. It is our responsibility as Architects and Developers to exploit the technology for our betterment. Combining the traditional Supply Chain Management lifecycle and Blockchain offers unprecedented Provenance and Traceability of each transaction and data block. This not only increases the efficiency of maintaining the entire Supply Chain, but also reduces overall operating costs as there is no extra overhead to maintain transparency and highest security of data transfer between the parties involved as this offered de-facto by Blockchain.

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