Procurement & Finance in Supply Chain Management

"Innovative, application-orientated concepts and solutions for an optimized commercial management of the Supply Chain and the linkage of material and financial flows"

Procurement & Finance in Supply Chain Management

Position Paper "Blockchain and Smart Contracts" published

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Blockchain and Smart Contracts position paper

© Fraunhofer IML

Blockchain Demonstrator

The department for Procurement and Finance in Supply Chain Management researches and develops solutions at the interface of logistics and financial processes. Close cooperation with partners from industry and the financial sector ensures that research is always up to date. In this way, promising innovations can be investigated at an early stage.

Blockchain technology and its enormous disruptive potential for companies' business processes have developed a great momentum in 2017. With focus on the effects and applications of Blockchain and Smart Contracts in the supply chain area, the Blockchain demonstrator was developed. With the help of this tool, the functionality and application possibilities of the Blockchain could be explained to the audience in a playful way, e.g. at the Inclusive SCF Conference in Frankfurt and the 52nd Symposium on Purchasing and Logistics in Berlin.

In addition, Commerzbank is a strong partner for a more in-depth project. The Financial Supply Chain Management 4.0 project will jointly develop new business models in trade finance and examine the influence of the physical supply chain on the financial supply chain in 2025. The requirements identified in Design Thinking Workshops with Commerzbank customers will eventually culminate in the development of blockchain-based solutions.

At the end of the year, research in this area was included in Fraunhofer’s strategic position paper Blockchain and Smart Contracts. Together with other Fraunhofer institutes, scientific and application-oriented aspects of the Blockchain technology are investigated herein. In particular, it deals with possible applications and technical research questions.


Demand for Procurement 4.0 Check in Asia

With a trip to China, our Procurement 4.0 theme has gained further momentum: Axel T. Schulte and Natalia Broza-Abut were on the road with the new customer Zber in Beijing, Nanjing and Shanghai at the end of September 2017. The Chinese company is a provider of solutions for global procurement and supply chain management. Chief consultant Yi Zhu first became aware of our preliminary study "Procurement 4.0 - Digitisation in Procurement". In the spring of 2017, Yi Zhu visited the IML together with his team. Zber then placed several orders with the IML.

At the 16th International Sourcing Fair Shanghai, Axel and Natalia presented the topic Industry 4.0 and digitization of procurement, as well as our Fraunhofer Procurement 4.0 Check. The trade fair organisers also appointed Axel to the International Sourcing Expert Panel. Also on the agenda was a visit to the company, which carried out the Fraunhofer Procurement 4.0 check for the first time in Asia. Eventown is China's first and largest booking platform for the conference industry. The company was voted as one of the most successful Chinese start-ups by the business magazine Forbes in 2015. The Chinese business partners were also very interested in the potential of blockchain technology in the context of SCM and procurement.

High expectations are being placed in Procurement 4.0 today - and the Fraunhofer IML makes it possible for companies to set standards here. With the "Procurement 4.0 Check" - a development from the Procurement and Finance Department in Supply Chain Management - companies have the opportunity to identify individual needs for action and potential for Industry 4.0 in Procurement.

© Fraunhofer IML

Commerzbank and Fraunhofer IML to conduct joint research on trade finance

Commerzbank press release July 4th 2017

Commerzbank and the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML in Dortmund have agreed on a cooperation. At the heart of this cooperation, scenarios for the supply chains of the future are to be developed. The institute supports the bank in orchestrating these processes and at the same time provides the latest findings on supply chain management and the possible use of blockchain technologies in this area. The blockchain, or distributed ledger technology, is a decentralized data structure and, for example, the basis for intelligent electronic contracts, so-called "Smart Contracts", which focus on the automated processing of business transactions.

Many digitisation approaches of banks, companies and scientific institutions are currently focussing on international trade transactions and the related commodity and financial flows. Increasing global competition, changing customer expectations and shorter product lifecycles make the associated international supply chains increasingly important for operational decision makers. With further digitization along supply chains, many process improvements and opportunities will arise from optimized management and faster availability of data. “Talking” containers, for example, will then become commonplace in global foreign trade.

Greater networking of functions can also create completely new areas of application across companies. This applies in particular to modern applications in the field of Internet of things, i.e. for networked objects that connect themselves independently via the internet and carry out tasks, as well as for Smart Contracts. This can result in new trading systems and trade financing concepts, faster transaction procedures and ultimately new solutions in working capital management. These are the focus of the new cooperation.

“Our core competencies, 'Moving money safely', 'Financing trade' and 'Assuming risks' will also be highly relevant for our customers in the age of digitalisation. The integration of the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML ensures the best possible insight into the currently very diverse digitization approaches along the logistics and material flow processes of our customers", said Dr. Bernd Laber, Member of the Board of Managing Directors responsible for Trade Finance & Cash Management for corporate customers at Commerzbank. “In numerous projects and consortia, we are also working with other international banks on the digitization of products and services, as well as on applications for blockchain technologies. The clear focus on the future supply chains of our customers, which we will develop together with the Fraunhofer IML, is very important to us as a corporate customer bank", continued Dr. Laber.

“Digitalization approaches in supply chain management, such as the development of smart containers that are able to route themselves, commission logistics service providers and pay for them independently, will enable completely new business models for banks in the areas of financing, risk management and transactions", explained Prof. Dr. Michael Henke, head of the Fraunhofer IML institute. “I am convinced that technologies such as block chains and smart contracts are key enablers for linking physical and financial supply chains. With Commerzbank as an innovative cooperation partner, we will develop new, safe and fast solutions for the supply chain of the future.”


© Fraunhofer IML

Fraunhofer IML introduces »Procurement 4.0 Check« at 51st symposium on purchase and logistics

The Procurement 4.0 Check, developed by the Fraunhofer IML, was presented to an expert audience at the 51st BME symposium on purchase and logistics in Berlin. Many procurement representatives from various industries visited the Fraunhofer IML booth to test the new Fraunhofer Procurement 4.0 Check app. Their response indicates clearly: Companies are searching for orientation and answers for a proper alignment of their procurement organization in times of digitalisation.

Procurement as part of industry 4.0 has to face many new challenges. Networking, innovations, data analytics and not least new business models, are only some of the topics that procurement has to confront. In doing so, and in the meantime finding the right answers, procurement has a unique chance in digitalisation to answer the call for a more strategic role within the company. A conclusion supported by the preliminary study „Digitalisation of Purchase – Procurement 4.0“, conducted by the Fraunhofer IML in cooperation with the BME. The results of this joint effort were also the foundation for the Fraunhofer Procurement 4.0 Check and the corresponding app.

During the execution of the check, qualitative and quantitative success factors of procurement are questioned systematically. By means of a gap analysis the substantial fields of activity regarding industry 4.0 are identified and made transparent. At the same time, the most relevant key performance indicators for procurement are examined. The result is a visualized complete overview, as well as the specific fields of action for the future development of procurement. Therefore, the Fraunhofer Procurement 4.0 Check serves as the basis for establishing an individual roadmap for the implementation of industry 4.0 in procurement.

For more detailed information on the Fraunhofer Procurement 4.0 Check, please contact
Dr. Axel T. Schulte.

Fraunhofer IML introduces Procurement 4.0 Check
© Fraunhofer IML

Fraunhofer IML introduces Procurement 4.0 Check

Fraunhofer Procurement 4.0 Check

Your Roadmap to Procurement 4.0





√ Identify strengths and weaknesses

√ Successfully determine potentials

√ Match your current digitalisation strategy

√ Receive new innovation impulses

√ Lay the foundation for your digitalisation roadmap




√ Stärken und Schwächen identifizieren

√ Erfolgreich Potenziale ermitteln

√ Ihre derzeitige Digitalisierungsstrategie abgleichen

√ Neue Innovations-Impulse erhalten

√ Basis für Ihre Digitalisierungs-Roadmap legen

Fraunhofer Procurement 4.0 Check

Latest Topics

Procurement & Finance in Supply Chain Management

Research project SOFiA
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Research project SOFiA

Integration of Smart Objects and Smart Finance

Business Case Calculator
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Business Case Calculator

For innovative business models

Industry 4.0 in Procurement
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Industry 4.0 in Procurement

Procurement 4.0 - Research Study on the digitalization of procurement

Procurement Check 4.0
© Fraunhofer IML

Procurement Check 4.0

Starting point for the implementation of Industry 4.0 in procurement



Practical implementation

Management of Industry 4.0

Based on the questions “What are the benefits of Industry 4.0 for my company and how can an implementation be achieved?” are we working together with selected industrial partners to find answers to questions referring to the management of Industry 4.0. We use our Business Case Calculator for the evaluation of innovative business models.


Synchronization of financial and material flows

Financial Supply Chain Management

The Financial Supply Chain considers financial flows within the whole supply chain in order to identify saving potentials for manufacturers, suppliers and financial providers. Therefore we further investigate in the fields of Supply Chain Finance and Smart Finance.


Bridging the Gap

Smart Finance

Smart Finance is working on the alignment of financial and material flows. The use of new technologies for the digitalization of financial flows such as Smart Contracts and Blockchains or Smart Payment (B2B) for digitizing transaction processes provides substantial advantages for companies that are working in the field of Smart Finance.


Ensuring Liquidity

inclusive Supply Chain Finance

Inclusive Supply Chain Finance (iSCF) is a relatively new tool for Financial Supply Chain Management. iSCF releases liquidity tied-up in the Supply Chain and creates advantages for all players along the value chain.


Innovative measuring and control elements

KPIs / Smart Analytics

KPIs are used for the support of decisions as well as the management and control of activities within companies. The usage of Smart Analytics can help to select relevant data for the business management in order to e.g. increase the efficiency in procurement.


Procurement as strategic competitive factor

Procurement Engineering

Procurement Engineering focuses on the analysis of quantitative and qualitative performance data as well as the identification of saving potentials. The benchmarking of quantitative and qualitative data for internal and external reasons is another part to e.g. increase the competitiveness of individual companies.


Industry 4.0 in procurement

Procurement 4.0

Procurement plays an important role in the implementation of Industry 4.0. It interacts with nearly all internal departments and external partners of the entire supply chain. Without any doubt, procurement has a high responsibility for the entire company.

The current study "Digitalization of procurement – Procurement 4.0" gives a first guidance for the implementation of Industry 4.0 in procurement organizations.


Proactive management of supply chain risks

Supply Chain Risk Management

Tools – based on software, which help the user to identify risk causes, visualize and evaluate them, are the main tasks for the Supply Chain Risk Management. In addition the consequences of risks are evaluated and compared with potential countermeasures in order to ensure an efficient risk management.


Dezentralized & reliable

Blockchain and Smart Contracts

A blockchain enables the decentralization of transaction management as well as the automation of processes and organizational principles.

We support you in identifying use cases for smart contracts in the physical and financial supply chain and beyond.

Research Projects - Publications - Team