Building Digital Trust in Value Chains
THE CHALLENGE OF ENABLING QUALITY THROUGH DATA TRUST
Today, reliable product quality is key to being competitive in the market. Expectations on quality control and assurance in value chains are increasing. For most manufactured and distributed goods, quality control is legally required or a prerequisite for payment by the partners along the value chain. At the same time, the IIoT is rapidly transforming value chains and manufacturing. It promises to unlock higher yields and efficiency, increase production speed, and make value chains more flexible. Given this reality, business cases between machines, without human interaction, will start affecting our markets very soon.
The dilemma: quality assurance and control are still strongly human-based processes and therefore relatively manual, costly and prone to error. They require many measures to ensure trust, which is often based on audits, redundant control points, certificates, training, and multiple other efficiency-slowing, trust-ensuring building blocks. Moreover, highly regulated privacy rules and regulations and even more incremental data payment business models are calling for novel solutions.
OPENING A DIGITAL WINDOW INTO VALUE CHAINS
The solution we are developing provides a framework to create digital trust by simply translating human trust in quality control into a more efficient M2M interaction. Compared to current processes, this solution opens a 24/7 digital window into the “healthiness” of value chains, quality control and production environments.
Our novel, multi-patented technology, which is based on several blockchain layers, crypto anchors, digital certificates, and smart contracts, will provide one “single source of truth”. Aside from guaranteeing trust in M2M payments, audits, recalls, and other reliability and transparency data requests, this will also accelerate new (data) business cases between machines like pay-per-part, pay-per-use and pay-per-performance, thus reducing human interaction to the benefit of our customers and their partners.
DATA AND GOODS ARE NOW ONE
The architecture of our digital platform is designed to solve the complicated challenge of adapting the systems of thousands of companies and vendors to enable communication within value chains. The solution does not focus on storing the data itself, but on making it accessible to all involved parties, thus solving the underlying challenges:
All parties involved in the value chain are in control of their data and who has access to it:
Business networkProcess control software is now tied into the whole product lifecycle and has access to fine-grained information.
Regulatory bodiesCan access audit data without interfering in day-to-day operations and work with stakeholders to quickly assess situations.
QA/QC teamsAre able to directly communicate with the process and provide extra value to their tests.
Business partnersCan efficiently share data attached to goals while maintaining confidentiality and trust. Smart contracts reduce workload and increase productivity.
PROVIDING AN M2M TRUST FRAMEWORK
As humans, we have built a sophisticated toolbox to judge the quality of products. We use tools like training, standard operating procedures (SoPs), quality tests, institutions, authenticity, and our gut to judge and determine if a product might meet a requirement. We have complex systems in place that are very precisely defined but can also judge a situation as a whole. Machines currently have no access to these frameworks, nor can they access the physical world in the way we do.
To ensure that machines can communicate trustfully with each other, we provide an M2M trust framework that enables automated quality workflows without human intervention, thus leveraging several tools to facilitate the transition from manual to fully automated processes:
SECURE AUTHENTICATION OF DIGITAL IDENTITIES
Crypto anchors serve a vital role in securely identifying and authenticating physical objects within the trust framework. As a crypto-anchor agnostic solution, various types of crypto anchors are deployed, from conventional QR codes to RFID and high-security options such as Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s Securalic® security pigments. The latter is especially important in regulated industries where the prevention of incorrect product attribution is crucial.
The latest addition are p-Chip microtransponders which offer high security and durability. They are suitable for challenging environments where other taggant solutions may not be practical, such as harsh conditions that could damage or decompose them.
collaboration with Siemens
We kicked off developments to boost quality and provide unprecedented levels of digital trust in M2M connected industrial value chains. How? Anchoring physical products in the digital world.
Our Collaboration with Gerresheimer
We jointly developed a solution to transform primary packaging into digital twins and further ensure traceability and trust in crucial steps along the pharmaceutical supply chain.
Dr. Thomas Endress
Executive Director EMD Digital, Project Lead