Air Force Institute of Technology releases "Blockchain for Supply Chain" free tools


The US Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) has developed a free interactive tool to help supply chain management professionals learn about the blockchain and its potential uses. AFIT has recently released a live blockchain application accessible from any computer or smartphone, along with a complementary series of video tutorials that accompany students through a blockchain simulation. Videos can be used as a stand-alone class module, or video and the blockchain website can be incorporated into class exercises or business meetings.

You can view a demonstration of the tool here.

Blockchain has become a hot topic in many supply chain management environments. Some experts have predicted that the blockchain will revolutionize the way we think about designing and managing the digital infrastructure for future supply chains. By providing a secure transaction registration between multiple parties, a blockchain can improve transparency and increase trust at all levels of a supply chain.

For the military, this could mean better visibility in an extremely complex logistics network. Current information systems sometimes struggle to trace parts from a region, and then assembled into equipment that is deployed on the other side of the planet. A digital blockchain ledger could be an elegant solution to this extremely complex challenge.

But it can be difficult for many people to understand what makes a blockchain different from a traditional database. So while potential opportunities could be enormous, the practical reality is that the introduction of new technology as a blockchain into a large global organization requires time, planning and, above all, the buy-in of decision makers throughout the # 39; organization.

AFIT is the graduate school for the United States Air Force. Its mission is to provide the defense community with the knowledge necessary to make good decisions about the future. Researchers at the AFIT supply chain knew that they needed a simpler way to study and demonstrate how blockchains work to create a common understanding between Department of Defense leaders, supply chain managers, and those looking for to help the defense community to build the right solutions to solve the problem. more urgent supply chain security and tracking issues.

Working with SecureMarking, a private supply chain security company, and the University of South Dakota Beacom School of Business, AFIT developed a multi-echelon supply chain scenario and then created a blockchain application around it. now. In this scenario, an Air Force program manager issues digital "tokens" to upstream suppliers. These tokens are then assigned to the components. Tokens are transferred from one company to another in the blockchain, at the same time as physical products pass through the supply chain.

Some companies in this scenario are able to add more information to a token. For example, when a component is assembled into a product, it can be recorded on the blockchain. And companies at any level can see the end-to-end supply chain for all the parties they've managed. But only the Air Force program manager has complete visibility of all parts of all companies at any time.

So what's special about the blockchain? Yes, it would be possible to track this information in a traditional database. However, the use of a blockchain helps ensure that all policies are applied at every stage of the process and each transaction is recorded permanently. Moreover, given the distributed nature of the blockchain, each participant has his own immutable copy of the record. This distributed way of preservation and coordination of records could be a revolutionary progress in the way goods are traced through organizations. In other words, the blockchain provides all supply chain participants with a higher level of trust in digital records and their physical products.

In the process of developing this scenario, the team has addressed some of the basic decisions that any company will have to face when designing a blockchain. For example:
• Will the blockchain be public, allowing anyone to join or be private in the sense that only pre-approved companies can participate in transactions?
• What activities will be allowed for each company in the blockchain to perform?
• Will participation be mandatory or will an incentive structure be required?
• How much visibility will each company have in the overall supply chain?

An interesting feature of this demonstration is that it tracks the entire life cycle of a component, from the point of production to the eventual dismantling and disposal. This is important because many supply chains now face a challenge: having used products reintroduced and sold as new by unscrupulous companies. These used products can lead to expensive problems such as unexpected equipment failures. In some situations, decommissioning monitoring could also be useful to ensure that hazardous materials are disposed of properly or that reusable components are properly recycled.

The full demonstration is available as a series of YouTube videos that can be completed in 20 minutes.

Researchers and educators who want more information on this project can contact: Ben Hazen, PhD – U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology (. (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)); Tim Breitbach, PhD – U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology (. (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)) or Daniel Stanton – SecureMarking, Inc. (. (JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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