In the development paths of Industry 4.0 the Blockchain is called to play an increasingly important role and it is now clear that this technology can allow many Italian companies to find new forms of efficiency and new competitiveness. However, the big theme and challenge is to clearly identify where and how the blockchain brings new value.
The advanced digitalization within the factories is increasingly bringing an all-inclusive ecosystem, which directly connects the good which is made to the industries themselves, factories that are in turn unified, to supply chains, to clients and to numerous other holistically demarcated investors like Connected world. The mishmash of Internet technologies and other tools concerned with the management and processing of information is ready to provoke a change of paradigm in the industrial production that today defines the so-called Industry 4.0.
Industry 4.0 offers us a business vision mostly based on automation, including smart services, goods and industries, where there are a lot of opportunities for developing revolutionary plans in industrial production. The creation of such an automated setting needs the connectivity of a huge amount of items to the Internet together, using the Internet of Things (IoT).
For obvious reasons, such objects could be dangerously open to hacker invaders, which is why, for several decades, massive cryptographic practices have been used to safeguard sensitive data in communication or memory. Originally, these practices were used only in information security systems, but then they were used for the design of a disruptive tech including blockchain, so as to allow the management and exchange of data in an effective decentralized manner.
Basing on the good, the supply chain management course is extremely complex: various geographical positions contain various connections along the supply chain for the creation and delivery of products; there can be thousands of phases, a crowd of payments and invoices; the entire movement of resources and data can also spread over months and have different parties involved.
The exclusive qualities of the blockchain technology could revolutionize supply chains and logistics in two ways: physical profile of the resources value chain, and digital value of information value chain.
On top of supplier data, information, good and material movements can be logged on the DLT or blockchain network, keeping historical data in memory and declaring the source of the manufactured goods, quality, expiry date, size, owners and the time elapsed between each passage. This information guarantees that consumers are cognizant of the production and transportation of harmless and sustainable products.
The potential to trace the origin of goods to address distresses about biodiversity and the impact of products to the depletion of natural resources are two cases that show the role of blockchains in guaranteeing product sustainability. Applying blockchain tech, product life cycle analysis can be accomplished using real product data, instead of approximating values, as in current life cycle analysis techniques.
To be truly effective, the blockchain data recording action should be carried out at all levels of the supply chain. Industries with incredibly complex supply chains will face a much bigger battle with regard to implementing this technology as a guarantee of quality of their products, as doing so would mean requiring each individual supplier and distributor to share and adopt such practices. Companies with simpler supply chains or those that manage the production of a product from beginning to end, will instead be facilitated when the blockchain becomes more widespread.
When it comes to quality control and assurance, the blockchain expresses its maximum potential in the context of industries that work with products that have a high impact on human life, such as food, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, heavy machinery and building materials. In fact, if there were ever problems with these types of products, the consequences are likely to be serious.
Vegetables infested with bacteria or incorrectly labeled pharmaceutical products, for example, can lead to the death of the customer and faulty equipment or chemicals can lead to catastrophic accidents. This is to show that not all industries will have to implement the blockchain as part of their quality assurance processes, even if the technology becomes pervasive in all sectors.
In the commercial sector, there are a number of actors that could potentially benefit from the security advantages offered by the blockchain. There are producers, for example, who wish to produce, market and sell their products to an international audience. We must also consider commercial intermediaries, whose job is to export and import goods on a global scale in order to support the activity of their employers.
To date, there is an increasing level of risk associated with international trade and commercial finance, which is generally offset by traditional banks and credit institutions, which act as trustees in order to safeguard the interests of each party, also taking responsibility for repay one or the other if a given business collapses.