Berlin, Germany –Aerospace suppliers have started looking into the blockchain technology to track their supply chain effectively and conveniently.
Although blockchain is widely known as the technology that serves as the basis for cryptocurrencies, it can also be used to track, record and move assets across different industries, making operations potential faster, smoother, cheaper and a whole lot better.
The aerospace industry is faced with the challenge of keeping track of tens of thousands of different parts and this problem was highlighted by last month’s fatal explosion, where it was discovered that some airlines do not keep track of the history of each fan blade inside an engine.
Apart from operational and cost benefits, better parts management and tracking could make safety checks after accidents faster, according to industry experts. A growing number of aerospace suppliers are considering using blockchain technology as a solution.
Blockchain is an ideal solution because it offers a secure encrypted audit trail, with only one version of the data. This means that it can be used to guarantee traceability sans the paperwork. Blockchain technology is currently being used to track cobalt on its journey from Congo mines to electronic devices such as smartphones.
Moog, a US-based flight control systems manufacturer, is working on creating a blockchain-based tracking solution called VeriPart. This system will be used to track 3D printed parts.
Geroge Small, Moog’s technology chief, said the aerospace industry was considering expanding its efforts on tracking parts across the supply chain to abide by quality and regulatory demands.
Small also said that the application of blockchain technology could increase efficiency and transparency in data sharing. He added that customer feedback has been quite positive so far. Although VeriPart is still undergoing development, Moog has already received inquiries on other potential uses for the technology.
“The solution is broadly applicable to manufactured goods and associated data that need to be tracked across supply chains from origin to delivery and on into service,” Small said.
Blockchain advocates say transparency is guaranteed by the encrypted audit trail and since blockchains are open to the public and decentralized, they enable different parties to share information.
Rolls-Royce is one of the carmakers working with blockchain developers to establish its use in the supply chain. The company says it is doing its best to develop solutions quickly.
“The company sees opportunities to automate records for complex products that currently require significant manual effort to ensure they are well managed,” a Rolls-Royce spokesman said.
The global technology company Sabre, has been looking into the various uses for blockchain in the travel and aviation industries for some time now. The company sees a potential use for it as a tracking system for parts.
Sabre Labs director Philip Likens said,“It’s a situation where you don’t need ultra fast technology, but you need to be able to trust what’s in the blockchain record.”
Likens added that the technology could be used to confirm who created which part on what day, what time it was installed on a plane and the number of hours the plane was in operation.
“You want to know that all those things are right and correct, that’s the immutability part,” Likens said.