The world as we knew it no longer exists. Consumers once used to instant gratification are now waiting in long, weaving queues for even basic essentials. As the panic buying subsides and the new normal sets in, cracks in fragmented supply chains have become glaringly obvious. Surprisingly only a small number of companies have been able to remodel their supply chains in the face of disruptions, while others struggle. What’s really worrying is when production and availability of Personal Protective Equipment and medical supplies is impacted, leading to bottlenecks that could potentially prolong pandemics.
Figuring out fragmented supply chains
To fulfill the erratic spike in demand, manufacturers can re-align with new suppliers in relatively less impacted regions. But the challenge with this option is the lack of trust due to no prior engagement, inability to conduct physical verification and the unavailability of credible performance information. Similarly, suppliers could look for new buyers to offload inventory but need the assurance for timely payments. Other participants in the supply chain such as financiers and logistics services also need to re-design their operations to stay operational.
However, aligning these supply chains given the disparate and isolated systems peculiar to each entity is not easy. Traditional means like spreadsheets and emails can get things going but are not sustainable for large-scale operations and invariably lead to data inconsistency and disputes. Blockchain technology can help address these issues by enabling accurate and reliable information flowing through the supply chain.
Using Blockchain to maintain integrity
In a Blockchain powered ecosystem, procurement teams can align faster with unforeseen issues and support business with other less impacted regions. It becomes easier to screen new suppliers an onboard them using standardized APIs and enterprise connectors, monitor quality control and benchmark performance. Likewise, such platforms can provide reliable information around a buyer’s payment history and credibility. Efficiency in supplier screening and onboarding will improve supply chain performance by minimizing disruptions and ensuring that supplies first reach the areas most in need.
Streamlining data minimizes bottlenecks, ensures quality
Data consistency across the supply chain can make a huge difference when working with new business partners, both from the buyer and supplier perspective. Smart contracts can be used to execute automated payments upon completion of transactions thus eliminating disputes by providing instant invoice verifications. Easy access to real-time information will help logistics service providers optimize their delivery schedules and eliminate bottlenecks.
Buyers can create auditable links and use Blockchain to verify authenticity of parts used in the final product or even the quality of ingredients in consumables, ensure that products are ethically sourced and abide by fair labor practices.
The applications of a Blockchain platform actually have much larger potential. Organizations such as the WHO, the UN and health ministries of different nations can use Blockchain to share information in real-time and in future detect worrying trends early on and take appropriate actions to prevent outbreaks. They can even share data around effective treatment and improve recovery rates. Blockchain can also provide the additional layer of transparency for donations that can help validate the source of the funds received.
Though still in its nascency, Blockchain is a technology with immense potential and in unprecedented times as today it can bring a lot to the table.
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