Robots, IoT sensors, and advanced automation have transformed the factory into its new intelligent avatar, called Smart Factory. Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence are adding new dimensions of observations to these factories.
5G, Cloud technologies, Virtualization, and Edge Computing are providing the necessary infrastructure for connectivity, storage, and efficient execution. Blockchain, usually associated with Decentralized Finance, NFTs, and Cryptocurrencies, doesn’t seem to fully fit in Industry 4.0 (I4.0). However, the true objectives of Blockchain are to establish transparency, trust, security, and privacy. And these core objectives combined with the technological advancements are the catalysts for inclusion, awareness, democracy, and true digital ownership. We have handpicked and curated these aspects of Blockchain that are truly transformational for the I4.0.
Auditability, Accountability, and Transparency
Enron’s collapse, the biggest bankruptcy filing in the US so far, is the best example of dubious accounting practices and standards. The company gave an illusion of higher profits by writing unrealized future gains into current income statements. It also hid the severity of its losses by keeping some of its assets off the book. As the details of the accounting frauds emerged, Enron’s stock dropped from $90 to $1, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs as well as employees’ pensions. The repercussions of institutional fraud go beyond the costly lawsuits, employment losses, and tarnished image. Blockchain can bring back accountability and transparency by recording financial transactions onto an immutable and decentralized ledger. And then all stakeholders can view the transactions but no one can modify them. With an immutable ledger, the auditing of the company becomes fairly easy and any deviations can be quickly traced back.
Digital Supply Chain
Internet of Things has provided unique insights into various performance, consumption, and maintenance-related parameters. These unique insights have led to advanced analytical capabilities. Tracking-enabled IoT devices such as GPS-based sensors can gather data about the exact journey from source to destination. This traceability is especially useful for industries supplying fresh produce, coffee, tea, and vaccines. Modern consumers want to know if their diamonds have been ethically sourced and if clothes were not manufactured in sweatshops. Tracking performance and transactions along the way also helps enterprises, manufacturers, and factories to improve the sourcing, warehousing, and transporting practices. The IoT devices and sensors record the transactions, location, and various other parameters related to logistics and transportation on Blockchain. Making the entire chain of events and transactions available on Blockchain provides significant benefits over traditional supply chains and establishes trust in the digitalized supply.
Two of the main issues daunting healthcare today are the security and privacy of health data, and accessibility and availability of all records in one place. Diagnostics, prescriptions, surgery, and other treatment records are stored in digitalized formats known as Electronic Health Record (EHR). However, the EHRs for a patient are recorded on separate databases as the patient changes healthcare providers and physicians. The complete health record is neither easily accessible nor available from one database. The physicians and healthcare providers lack the insights that can be gathered from a single comprehensive electronic record for a patient. Blockchain can act as the single point of secure access to these database silos. The patients can provide the access to the healthcare provider and physicians of their choice securely with their Blockchain Account. The records on Blockchain are immutable and can only be updated in the future.
Adding the Aspect of Privacy to Big Data and Analytics
Enterprises and manufacturers are facing a unique dilemma today. If they gather information about their customers and consumers, then it is a violation of privacy. However, without this information, they cannot run the ML/AI algorithms to generate the insights required for running the business efficiencies. This issue is even more serious for healthcare industries, as identifying the patterns is key to the success of treatments. Segregating the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) from the user data can resolve the privacy issues. A person’s Blockchain account is does not tie to any PII. Blockchain can protect the PII of a user while sharing the user data with the consent of the user. Enterprises can run their ML/AI algorithms on the rest of the user data while being completely oblivious of the user identity. Blockchain can thus empower enterprises and protect the privacy of the users at the same time.
Democratization of Infrastructure
Blockchain is paving the way for new revenue models based on decentralization and incentivization for many infrastructure businesses. Decentralization allows users to contribute and incentivization motivates them to contribute more. Nova Lab’s IoT network, Helium, is the largest decentralized wireless IoT network. Helium hotspots are small devices with antennas that transmit small amounts of data, especially IoT data, 200 times farther than a traditional wi-fi hotspot. Owners of the hotspots share their bandwidth with the nearby connected IoT devices such as parking meters and air-quality sensors. This model works so well because the owners are incentivized with Helium’s HNT tokens. Similarly, Blockchain-based storage companies such as Storj are planning to utilize the unused disk space of people across the globe for Blockchain Off-chain data. This arrangement makes the storage space truly decentralized and secure. Users’ contribution to the infrastructure is the true democratization of the global network.
Environmentalists are coming up with ideas to reward people and organizations for their sustainability efforts. They intend to use the Distributed Ledger Technology created by Blockchain to bring transparency and awareness. IoT sensors can measure Carbon emissions for everyday operations such as vehicle movements and burning fossil fuels. The sensors record these data on distributed ledger provided by Blockchain. Since the ledger is distributed, everyone can view the data and no one can alter the data. Awareness about pollution levels can help organizations take measures to reduce their carbon footprint. The MSRcosmos group has a start-up initiative named MSRvantage. The initiative is helping enterprises in optimizing energy consumption and adopt sustainable practices. Modern consumers want to know the carbon footprint behind the products. The industries with a large carbon footprint have to take corrective actions because of increased public awareness.
Blockchain as a technology is looking beyond increasing productivity, efficiency and speed. It is trying to onboard all the stakeholders on the same platform. It is providing equal rights and equal treatment to all the participants and empowering them. Blockchain is going to be the catalyst behind the behavioural transformation of enterprises and industries. By recording the journey of products and processes, bringing awareness about unethical practices, letting people contribute to the global infrastructure, and letting stakeholders get a clear view of all the transactions, Blockchain is going to change the way enterprises and industries operate.
At Kandola Network, we are building the version of Blockchain that can do this and more. To know more about the Kandola Blockchain solution, please visit www.kandolanetwork.com.
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