Blockchain is a hot-topic buzzword in virtually every tech industry, and manufacturing is no exception. But when it comes to implementing blockchain in a meaningful way, many manufacturers are still a long way off. There are a few sectors ready to embrace the technology. If successful, they could pave the way for blockchain’s practical application in other environments.
Blockchain in manufacturing
There’s been a lot of speculation about how blockchain will make its impression on manufacturing. Scholarly thinking points to innovations in product safety, track-and-traceability, warranty management, maintenance, repair, and more. Regardless of how it emerges, the only certainty is that it’s coming sooner rather than later.
Estimates from global research and advisory firm Gartner have blockchain’s impact measured at $176 billion by 2025 and even higher by 2030, at $3.1 trillion! For manufacturing specifically, as many as 40% of companies with over $5 billion in revenue will implement blockchain in some fashion by 2023.
Here are the sectors heralded as frontrunners in this movement.
1. Pharma manufacturing
Pharmaceuticals manufacturing is a minefield of critical, proprietary data. Formulations are secret, patents are numerous, and competition is fierce when it comes to putting out a cash-cow drug. All this data requires the utmost protection — protection blockchain can offer.
Cybersecurity companies are already testing blockchain’s decentralized ledger system as a way of improving data protection. For pharma manufacturing, the possibilities are endless. For example, a pharma company can share manufacturing data with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) securely, verifying a proprietary process. Or, blockchain implemented at the ingredient SKU level may improve traceability for batch manufacturing. Pharma manufacturing is rife with opportunities for blockchain.
In a manufacturing sector with zero tolerance for mistakes, blockchain will provide the peace of mind that comes with data security and safeguards.
2. Auto manufacturing
Big changes are coming to the world of auto manufacturing. Blockchain will be part of those changes. In a report by technology giant IBM, “62% of surveyed automotive executives say blockchain will be a disruptive force in the auto industry over the next three years. 54% expect to implement their first commercial blockchain network at-scale within the next three years.”
But how blockchain will influence automotive manufacturing remains to be seen. Early pioneers show interest in tracing part defects and aggregating component data, to prevent and expedite potential recalls. Others believe in the power of blockchain to reduce manufacturing risks.
3. Tech manufacturing
Blockchain is one of the biggest buzzwords in the tech world, including tech manufacturing. Like pharma, tech manufacturing is a world of proprietary data; similar to automotive manufacturing, it’s a segment with early pioneers.
Smart manufacturing contracts, transfer of intellectual property for manufacturing, and component track-and-trace are all real-world applications gaining traction right now. Security for the industrial internet of things (IIoT) and coordination of Industry 4.0 tech will soon follow, since the tech manufacturing sector is an overwhelmingly popular target for industrial hackers.
Of all the sectors ready to embrace blockchain, tech manufacturing tops the list. It’s an industry that demands security, traceability, confidentiality, and more — all benefits offered by blockchain.
The revolution is nigh!
The pharma, auto, and tech sectors are all currently exploring blockchain. As they find success with it, blockchain’s uses will creep into other sectors of the manufacturing industry. It’s only a matter of time before blockchain applications become standard practice.
Blockchain is by no means a cure-all for manufacturers’ new-tech concerns, but it’s a step in the right direction for solving some glaring problems.