The Digital Product Passport Transforming End-To-End Manufacturing Processes

Consumers are gradually becoming more sensitive and attuned to how products are sourced, manufactured, and distributed. With supply chain issues a leading cause of present economic turmoil, understanding all the components and factors that contributed to every production stage from manufacturing to delivery is crucial for establishing the integrity of a product.

A strong reason for the importance of better tracking and transparency comes from the American fast-casual restaurant chain Chipotle. Between 2015 to 2018, more than 1,100 customers were sickened by tainted food, sparking widespread reputational backlash, not to mention a $25 million federal fine. 

Chipotle was forced to institute several reforms and new measures, including microbiological testing for raw ingredients to deliver better food safety as part of its deferred prosecution agreement with the government. However, Chipotle is far from the only company to fall victim to food safety issues. Leafy greens are notorious for harboring E. coli, and the latest spate of incidents comes by way of greens sourced from Yuma, Mexico.

Manufacturers are not immune from these problems, and the concerns are very real. Product problems can result in huge recalls, evidenced by Tesla’s half-million vehicle recall due to safety concerns. With all the variable risks across different processes, these situations underscore the immense importance of proper sourcing and tracking throughout the end-to-end manufacturing and distribution processes. 

Yet, organizations must explore novel ways of keeping tabs on their operations between so many moving processes and parts. This is where blockchain technology can make all the difference. Thanks to an immutable, decentralized ledger that offers unparalleled transparency relative to other enterprise-level systems, blockchain is the capable answer to this very real organizational concern.

Digital Product Passports As The Answer To Lifecycle Traceability

While we traditionally view blockchain and cryptocurrency as synonymous, this could not be further from the truth given the vast number of enterprise use cases emerging from distributed ledger technology (DLT). Much of the technology that can be applied to the scale and scope of this challenge has been around for years. Now, a combination of readily available and affordable technologies combined with blockchain can potentially transform the verification process accompanying manufacturing activities. 

To this end, Authrail has introduced digital product passports, an innovative approach towards tracking products and raw material inputs through all stages of the manufacturing process. Originally built on Ethereum and recently migrated to Moonbeam, the platform combines SaaS solutions built atop blockchain to maintain the integrity of the data contained within, helping call upon and verify critical information throughout different activities. 

For curious enterprises, the use case has already been thoroughly tested through implementation with German rolling bearings manufacturer IBO GmbH. The manufacturer, which supplies parts to aerospace and defense outfits, must meet high standards, requiring verification through multiple phases of the end-to-end process. Through a combination of scannable QR codes and blockchain, Authrail devised digital product passports very trace and verify product authenticity across the production line.

Every IBO product is now assigned a QR tag that stores data on a range of product attributes, like the raw materials used during manufacturing, the technical specifications of the products themselves, and the product’s origin. Together, this readily verifiable information hosted on blockchain granted IBO an unparalleled window into its processes, not to mention helping provide valuable information on-demand to end consumers.

This exercise results in greater trust and reliability, all because every aspect of the production process can be tracked, bringing product lifecycle traceability full circle. Moreover, the underlying construction of the system supports easy verification, helping organizations monitor their processes to identify potential inconsistencies or product defects that may arise. 

Beyond manufacturing, this type of end-to-end solution could also play a valuable role In the context of supply chains by helping consumers quickly verify the authenticity of a product or identify defective, fraudulent, or tainted products. For luxury goods manufacturers facing counterfeiting, the benefit is just as evident, not to mention the potential for keeping tabs on agricultural sourcing to avoid contamination issues from creating larger problems.

Passporting Trust & Traceability Via Blockchain

Reimagining blockchain for enterprises doesn’t necessarily mean adjusting the core tenets or construction of the technology. In fact, even without being purpose-built for organization use cases, blockchain’s intrinsic values of immutability and transparency help form the foundation for the trust and traceability that builds on top of this base logic.

Authrail is just one solutions provider to enterprises facing high reporting requirements, whether the source of materials, point of origin, or product specs. Yet, the digital product passport has immense potential to transform the trust quotient for end-consumers as well. Not only that, but enterprises gain the visibility to prevent problems before they snowball, exerting more control across production activities that make this a sustainable and verifiable approach towards the entire production lifecycle.

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