How blockchain can secure the IoT in the supply chain

0
263
Karim Jawhary, Senior Director, Life Sciences & Healthcare, Unisys

Few would argue that the use of blockchain presents a unique opportunity to help the cargo industry address their IoT (Internet of Things) data shortcomings. There are three areas, in particular, where blockchains holds great potential for revolutionising how air cargo providers do business, writes Karim Jawhary, Senior Director, Life Sciences & Healthcare, Unisys.

Encryption

As organisations continue to experience an increase of attacks, both on-premise and in the cloud, the trend seems to be that the attackers are exploiting vulnerabilities that come with innovations. As risks pile up with new technologies, organisations need to keep up to date with the threats and trends that drive them, before jumping on the bandwagon.

Costing some $4m a breach, it’s not difficult to grasp just how much devastation a cyber-attack can wreak on an organisation and considering 90 per cent of cybersecurity breaches begin in the supply chain, providing incredibly high levels of protection against hacking is paramount. Yet, to date, a blockchain has never been breached.

Better tracking and visibility

Disruptive technologies like IoT can enable warehouse data and shipment information to be accessed on smartphones or tablets in real-time. Real-time updates mean that data is always current, eliminating confusion and redundancies. With disruptive technologies like IoT, cargo can be tracked and monitored at every step of its journey.

The blockchain would rely on effective serialisation coupled with IoT sensors to track product shipments throughout their journey. These IoT sensors can record any desired data: location, time, temperature, oxidation, etc. While blockchains in the financial market tend to be public blockchains that anyone can join and access, blockchains in the air cargo supply chain would be private and per- mission-based, where only sanctioned members would have access to the data.

For example, suppose the temperature in a cold chain goes too high during one stage of transport. The product is ruined. Today, the problem is only discovered after the fact – or, worse, may not be discovered at all. But with a temperature sensor communicating data in real-time through a blockchain, this can be directly fed back to the manufacturer and the vendor. Having an alert triggered that the temperature in the aircraft was climbing – before it reached critical temperatures – could potentially have saved the shipment. Even if saving the shipment was not possible, it would be flagged as spoiled and not passed along to customers.

Being able to deliver instant tracking capabilities compared to the days required by current systems is key to smooth operations and the need for time-consuming research, emails, and faxes between the manufacturer and the vendors after an incident occurs is eliminated.

Cost-effective

Being able to deliver instant tracking capabilities compared to the days required by current systems is key to smooth operations and the need for time-consuming research, emails and faxes between the manufacturer and the vendors after an incident occurs is eliminated.

On a blockchain, every piece of data is recorded in real-time. All that is necessary is to look up a serial number and the entire chain of custody and all related product data is instantly available.

Greater visibility afforded by IoT means misplaced shipments can be more easily located by accessing the last known location in the system, since everything can be tracked in real-time. All this is enables carriers to provide better, faster service to customers and more cost-effective solutions for supply chains.

Face of the future?

It is no secret that blockchain is indeed poised to disrupt the supply chain as we know it.
The key to future success for airfreight forwarders lies in embracing these next-generation disruptive technologies like IoT and securing it with blockchain solutions, in order to move forward into the digital age.