Fraunhofer IML develops a blockchain-based platform concept for the medium-sized enterprise group EJOT

© Fraunhofer IML

Within the project “Blockchain in the EJOT Supply Chain”, the Fraunhofer IML, in close collaboration with the medium-sized company group EJOT, is elaborating blockchain-based platform concepts for the development of a contract service provider and a dynamic discounting platform. Fraunhofer IML analyses ongoing processes along the supply chain of EJOT and develops a target concept for the use of a blockchain-based platform solution.

The development of a contract service provider platform based on blockchain technology enables systematic data collection that creates transparency on all manufacturing orders. This is intended to reduce the manual synchronization and coordination effort for EJOT and its contract service providers.

As part of the project start, the ongoing process at EJOT and selected contractor service provider was started, which provides insights into the current exchange of information. Based on this, a blockchain-based platform concept was developed, which builds on the existing process and integrates the advantages of blockchain technology. According to the jointly elaborated concept, a blockchain-based contract service provider platform can be developed in the further course of the project.

Joint project Germany / Singapore: Blockchain-based management framework for transparent, efficient and trustworthy value chains of unregulated products

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With the introduction of new technologies, shorter product lifecycles and increasing globalization, many companies have developed an increasingly complex supply chain structure, why it is indispensable making a reliable database and an uniform access. Trust between consumers and businesses is equally important. To build and maintain this trust, the auditability of a reliable and transparent data structure is required. This should cover the entire supply chain and be able to map every step of the manufacturing process seamlessly. Public standards and testing requirements already provide the necessary transparency and serve as a basis of trust in highly regulated industries, but these are still lacking in less regulated industries.

Kimberly-Clark’ products are representative examples of products from a poorly regulated sector. The manufacturer of hygiene products sells baby wipes. The characteristics and standards of this product line are not uniformly defined in many countries, resulting in a wide range of products of different quality. This is due to the large number of companies involved in the production process.

The “SuppliedTrust” project aims to solve this problem by creating a secure Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure for consistent data collection along the entire supply chain, ensuring data integrity through “read and write” authentication. Different approaches to product labelling are also being investigated. The aim is to develop a supply chain transparency and quality assurance system (“SuppliedTrust”) based on blockchain technology to be able to monitor and verify the process status, location, and condition of products seamlessly. The project therefore promises an added value of a comprehensive, trustworthy database that will enable process control and auditing of unregulated products in the future.

Successful implementation of a blockchain-based concept for cost-efficient supplier connection in medium-sized businesses

© Fraunhofer IML

Cross-company electronic data exchange is currently a major challenge for small and medium-sized enterprises. Interfaces must be standardised and integrated according to needs, and as result high implementation costs are incurred. This means especially for companies with limited financial capabilities, that digitization processes are restricted.

At the technical wholesale retailer Piel – a medium-sized company from South Westphalia – it turned out that the digital onboarding of customers and other partners in the supply chain is associated with high financial and personnel costs. The default approach of realizing the interfaces to suppliers and customers via individual, bi-directional interfaces has proved to be an enormous cost factor, because due to a lack of know-how external IT service providers must be commissioned at industry-standard conditions.

Blockchain technology can make a valuable contribution here, as it represents a new, distributed and particularly error-resistant technology for internet-based transactions. Together with Piel and a selected customer, a concept for a blockchain-based data exchange process along the supply chain was developed and evaluated from a technical and economic point of view. The joint project ended with the successful validation of the test concept and the integration of the supplier into the supply network of the company Piel. The retrospective evaluation of this research project has shown that the use of the blockchain-based system for cross-company data exchange has significantly reduced the onboarding costs dramatically.

The additional integration of Smart Contracts ensures the automation of time-consuming and error-prone processes in the context of order processing in a secure and traceable manner. Increased transparency regarding contractual performance ensures process stability and has the potential to open up new business areas and services for Piel.