In today’s globalized economy, supply chains in every industry are expansive and complex. Products are designed by teams in one or more locations, manufactured at other locations, stored elsewhere, and sold everywhere. Goods and components pass through various countries, warehouses, weather conditions, handling methods, and storage situations before final products reach end consumers. The worldwide logistics industry accounted for 6% of
GDP in 2017, or nearly $4.8 trillion USD, according to Plunkett Research—which highlights its enormity and importance.
The use of high-tech materials and electronic components in modern products makes it essential to monitor the physical, climatic condition of manufacturing, and storage during transit and warehousing. For example, a paper published in the journal Nature showed that lithium ion batteries degrade faster when stored above room temperature (35°C). Such factors play an important role in the longevity and performance
of products and, ultimately, in customer satisfaction. It is therefore vital that physical and operational factors affecting product performance and lifespan are identified and measured at every step
in the supply chain. This is particularly significant for products that can have an immediate impact on human health, such as packaged foods, baby products, produce, medicines, meat, and medical devices.
Why Current State of Track and Trace Solutions Fall Short?
Some companies provide track-and-trace solutions by using technologies such as data interfaces, electronic data interchange (EDI), B2B messaging and reports, bar codes, QR codes, radio frequency identification (RFID), near-field communication (NFC), and global positioning system (GPS) devices. Such solutions often use warehouse management system and RFID tags to ensure product traceability.
These tools have limited capabilities:
• They tend to be limited to logistics activities, such as identifying locations.
• Some data is captured in nondigital formats, with no single authority to verify data integrity or accuracy.
• Support for secure, multiparty information-sharing is lacking.
How Oracle Uses Internet of Things and Blockchain for Track and Trace
Clearly, having a single, integrated source data and the ability to track, trace, and verify products is fundamental as counterfeit products and contamination plague the marketplace. An integrated track-and-trace solution not only ensures supply chain efficiency, product safety, and sustained brand value, but it also saves cost, time, and effort while helping companies adhere to regulatory requirements.
Oracle’s enterprise-grade platform offers mission-critical Internet of Things (IoT) applications for enterprise assets, production lines, transportation fleets, and mobile workers. These applications securely connect devices, analyze real-time and historical data, and integrate with back-end applications. With such capabilities, companies can extend their supply chain, ERP systems, and CX applications to the physical world and enable automation powered by intelligent, predictive algorithms.
Oracle provides out-of-the-box agents that can be installed on any device or IoT gateway. These agents then connect physical devices with Oracle IoT Cloud Service using a secure communication mechanism. Oracle IoT Cloud also provides RESTful APIs, allowing information and operations professionals to build vertical-specific IoT solutions and integrate disparate enterprise IT systems.
Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service offers preconfigured blockchain code to optimize standard business processes, including ERP transactions. The enterprise-grade service leverages out-of-the-box validations that traditionally require third-party validation. As an Oracle-managed cloud platform, it is backed by 99.95% SLA availability with an in-built, highly available configuration, autonomous recovery agents, and continuous ledger back-up capabilities for multi-datacenter disaster recovery across availability domains. Oracle’s blockchain platform integrates all underlying infrastructure dependencies, container lifecycle management, event services, identity management, REST proxy, and a number of operations and monitoring tools under a single console, thereby expediting the set-up and application development process. Figure 1 provides an overview of the Oracle blockchain architecture and how it interacts with Oracle Blockchain as a Service (BaaS), SaaS, PaaS, and on-premises ERP products.
Putting IoT and Blockchain to Work Together: A Use Case
From a system perspective, the combination of blockchain and the Internet of Things is both reliable and impregnable while being comprehensive enough to accommodate all supply chain needs. It offers a mature track and trace technical solution to improve compliance and assist with other tasks such as product recalls, returns, etc. More importantly, it simplifies the process of searching for, acquiring, and gathering data across complex supply chains by using a distributed yet centralized system. The use cases and capabilities of these powerful technologies underscore the value of digital adoption in improving tracing and tracking.
Best-of-breed track and trace solutions can help manufacturers and suppliers improve preventive maintenance, root cause analysis, service levels, and product performance, thereby enhancing customer satisfaction and cementing customer loyalty.