Blockchain can be an Important Value-Add, but Planning is Essential

Blockchain in manufacturing can help verify goods moving through the manufacturing supply chain and perhaps even foster the development of new business models.  According to Gartner, the value-add of blockchain for businesses is estimated to grow to a little more than $176B by 2025, reaching $3.1T by 2030.  In fact, Gartner says, product recalls that are estimated at $8M could be practically eliminated through improved track and traceability enabled by blockchain.  

It sounds like a good solution, but prior to implementing blockchain, there are critical essentials needed to ensure auditing, tracking, and system versions are up to date.  AUVESY’s versiondog can help.  Information on a product’s version and location can be available extremely quickly using versiondog. It can help identify parts or materials that are defective and point to where the best source for materials.

The first step for any blockchain project is a sophisticated audit, tracking, and version control implementation.  These initiatives can impact product safety, track-and-traceability, warranty management, maintenance, repair & overhaul (MRO), and increase safety overall for the smart, connected products segment.  Regulatory challenges and struggles with interoperability within a manufacturer supply chain are high on the list of hurdles manufacturers face in getting blockchain initiatives accepted and into production.

Preparation and discipline are required on the part of production, operations, and maintenance staff regarding documentation in order for the solution to function properly and actually save time. The structure of the production network, the assignment of permissions, and the creation of different user groups must all be clarified. 

This preparation is especially true for manufacturers, such as Mann + Hummel, manufacturers of products for the automotive industry.  The company invests considerable money every year in new machines, robots, and peripheral devices. Their six-day, three-shift production emphasizes maximizing availability and minimizing downtime. They rely on versiondog’s audit, tracking, and version control solution to ensure this.  While the company hasn’t yet embarked on blockchain initiatives, they have addressed the process of making sure all production processes are up to par and are transparent.

With versiondog, all of their machines are connected to an MES system, and every part of the production process is networked, so they can be fully monitored, and all errors can be recorded. If a new machine is added, then it is allocated a new IP address, a network cable is connected, and the communications module is installed. The machine can then run on the network. Maintenance ports are also created so that a maintenance worker or external programmer can log in to the audit, tracking and version control solution to make programming changes to the production line. Remote maintenance is also controlled by the solution, which helps to ensure that the most recent version is always used.

Before embarking on blockchain projects, it is important to have everything in order internally with production lines.  This is especially the case in the field of production management, where audits can be critical for analyzing quality deficiencies and determining operational risks. 

The evidence of improvement comes from audits and procedures to obtain ISO and similar certifications. Independent bodies are called upon to ensure that a company is meeting the required standards. As a rule, carrying out audits regularly will improve the quality of a company’s processes and products.

Without systematic checks of work processes, any deficiencies or potential areas for improvement in a company will usually be overlooked. When mandatory processes are revised, and efficiency is improved, new opportunities can arise. Regularly reviewing business processes – or even just questioning them – can result in a process of continuous improvement. This then leads to an increase in quality and, ultimately, a more satisfied customer.

Improving track-and-traceability and easing the audit production process are primary drivers across all manufacturers, given additional compliance requirements in highly regulated industries.  It explains why automotive, aerospace & defense, medical devices, and pharma are all exploring how blockchain can provide them a competitive edge.

 

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