The US Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) has recently partnered with the University of South Dakota's Beacom School of Business and private supply chain security firm SecureMarking to develop a free interactive blockchain tool designed to help players in the supply chain realm to better understand various application technology. Educational videos are also offered to complement the web-based tool.
AFIT, headquartered in Ohio, home of the School of Systems & Logistics, offers specialized and research courses for lifelong and professional defense-oriented training to advance US space, air and computing forces .
The tool can be used as a stand-alone module for classroom lessons, or the instrument and videos can be used together in class lessons and training exercises.
Main features of the new AFIT Blockchain tool
Blockchain technology can be used to record virtually any type of business, financial or otherwise. The information stored in a blockchain resides in a shared and constantly updated database. This database does not live in a single location, which means that hackers can not compromise information security. Every transaction that occurs is called "block" and is automatically registered. Updates to a blockchain network take place every ten minutes, maintaining accuracy and transparency.
Blockchain can not be controlled by any single part and does not have a single point of failure. This eliminates the risks associated with traditional centralized data archiving. This is what makes the blockchain "immutable".
The new AFIT tool focuses on a multi-tiered supply chain scenario, around which a blockchain application was built. This provides an overview of how information on the blockchain is initiated and controlled. Managers of Air Force programs can issue tokens to upstream suppliers; tokens are assigned to specific parts or components and transferred from the company to the blockchain while the actual products are transported through the supply chain.
In this configuration, some players have the ability to add additional information to the tokens. When a certain component is used in the assembly of a final product, for example, this activity can be recorded in the blockchain. Regardless of the level at which they are located, companies are able to view the end-to-end supply chain for any component they have managed. The managers of the Air Force mentioned above are the only ones with full visibility to all parties, from all companies.
In the series of educational videos, Daniel Stanton, president and co-founder of SecureMarking, illustrates the impact of blockchain on the modern supply chain, leading users through each phase of a blockchain simulation.
Blockchain can show the entire life cycle of the equipment, in each military branch: from production to purchase, implementation, decommissioning and disposal. This approach could revolutionize current supply chain practices, which are often extremely complicated due to disconnected databases, multiple approval requirements and differences between military divisions.
Blockchain for military supply chains
Blockchain could have a major impact on complex military logistics and the supply chain system, revolutionizing the way in which the parties involved purchase, use and dispose of assets. The total transparency offered to authorized users allows all resources to be monitored visibly along the entire supply chain, ultimately bringing greater visibility to transactions, greater confidence through data transparency and improved business partnerships.
Image Credit: Sashkin / Shutterstock.com