The factory floor may seem a million miles away from the ethereal world of Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies, but the divide is not as great as you might think. While cryptocurrencies may get all the press, the blockchain technology that made those virtual coins possible is quickly changing the world.
Regardless of the future prospects of these coins, one thing is certain – the power of the blockchain is here to stay. Here are some of the ways blockchain technology is changing the face of manufacturing, altering the way products are manufactured and delivered and transforming the 21st-century factory floor.
What is the Blockchain?
In order to understand how this emerging technology is changing the world of manufacturing, it is helpful to know just what the blockchain is. While the underlying technology is somewhat complicated, the blockchain is simply a type of digital ledger, one on which all transactions are recorded.
The beauty of cryptocurrency is that every transaction, no matter how large or small, is recorded permanently on the blockchain. That transparency provides a new level of security and gives users confidence in the virtual coins they are spending and the virtual currencies they are investing in.
Building a Better Supply Chain
For many decades, the supply chain was a beast to be slain, one that consisted of dozens of moving parts, many different suppliers and a series of interconnected relationships. This complexity made the supply chain difficult to manage and expensive to maintain, but blockchain technology has the potential to change all that.
In some ways, the use of blockchain technology is simply an extension of what many manufacturers have already been doing. For years now, manufacturers of all sizes have been moving away from the standard break/fix model, using predictive analytics to predict points of failure and address them before a costly breakdown occurs.
By harnessing the power of the blockchain, those manufacturers can increase visibility, making it easier to analyze complex processes and break them down into their simpler constituent parts. This transformation could create supply chains that are more dynamic, more resistant to breakdowns and more attuned to future changes.
This, in turn, could speed time to market, making it easier for companies to respond to changes in consumer behavior. Instead of being stuck with a warehouse full of unsold products, business owners can respond quickly, creating the products their customers crave and boosting their profits in the process.
A Shared Resource
One of the biggest advantages of the blockchain is its decentralized nature. With blockchain, there is no central depository – all information is stored on nodes and shared among users.
This decentralized model is perfect for the sharing of information, and it could transform the world of manufacturing and allow businesses to compete more effectively. In the future, manufacturers could use the power of the decentralized blockchain to securely share information with their workers, their suppliers and even their customers. This information sharing could transform the world of manufacturing and give individual factory workers and managers a higher level of control.
Last but certainly not least, blockchain technology has the potential to make products more reliable and quality control easier for manufacturers. Tracing the source of defective parts and identifying flaws in the manufacturing process have traditionally been big challenges for manufacturing, but that may be changing thanks to the power of the blockchain.
In the future, manufacturers who identify a problem with a specific part will be able to trace the source of those parts right on the blockchain, identifying the problematic suppliers and finding new sources of replacement parts.
Manufacturers could also use blockchain technology to make their quality control processes easier and more effective. When flaws are detected in the finished products, quality control personnel will be able to use the digital ledger in the form of the blockchain to pinpoint the source of the problem, making corrections easier and less costly.
Even if you never own a single Bitcoin, your life has likely already been transformed by the power of the blockchain. Whether you manufacture products or just buy them, your experience will have already been augmented by the technology.
In the future, the power of the blockchain could grow even greater, changing the way products are manufactured, transforming the factory floor and making finished goods more reliable.
And you don’t have to be a cryptocurrency user to appreciate that.