Combining Blockchain With NFC/RFID Technologies For Smarter Supply Chains

By Jack Grimshaw
Modern-day supply chains are managed at a global scale, and continue to become increasingly complex. ST has published a whitepaper on how to build smart...

Modern-day supply chains are managed at a global scale, and continue to become increasingly complex. ST has published a whitepaper on how to build smarter end-to-end supply chains.

As the internalisation of flows and operations continues, the need for smarter end-to-end supply chain networks has never been so crucial. The ability to track product flows, share accurate information and data amongst stakeholders and integrate wide product portfolios is essential to supply chain leaders.

One way that supply chain complexity can be eliminated is by combining blockchain technology with RFID/NFC solutions. Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is a contactless solution based on a radio frequency field, designed to exchange data between two devices through a simple touch gesture. Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) uses electromagnetic fields to identify and track tags attached to objects.

Combining the two of these with blockchain solutions can lead to flows with increased transparency, more security and automated administrative operations through the use of smart contracts. NFC technology provides a safe connection to data about product origin, certifications, and the journey through the supply chain. These insights provide key benefits to all stakeholders, from suppliers through to consumers.

As Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, such as blockchain, become increasingly prominent in the supply chain, smarter networks assisted by digital and physical infrastructures are cropping up more and more. These networks contain objects that are capable of communicating and collaborating without human intervention.

Stakeholders’ abilities in supply chain management can shift from decision support to decision delegation through this increasing level of intelligence. Blockchain technology stands to be a true game-changer within the industry, with the capacity to enable predictive capabilities and improved tracing and tracking.

The authenticity and quality of physical assets can be verified by blockchain technology with a cost-efficient, two-party-only concept, therefore creating reliable, end-to-end visibility. This then helps build both company success and customer satisfaction, focusing on the four pillars,  ‘security, transparency, trust and speed’.

IoT technology is bringing in more and more connected devices every day. Gartner estimated that there were 8.4bn IoT devices in 2017, and expects that figure to exceed 500bn by 2030. The digital pairing of NDC/RFID-enabled devices and blockchain solutions creates a reliable, concrete and permanent channel that users can collect, communicate and aggregate data from. 

Supply chain entropy will be mitigated by the combined technologies, whilst visibility and transparency are significantly enhanced. 

Learn more about the benefits of pairing NFC/RFID technology with blockchain here.

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