Blockchain is a revolutionary technology that helps record transactions and tracks both tangible and intangible assets within a business network.
Unlike earlier, when keeping track of valuable assets was done manually, today, blockchain technology is helping industries across the world automate tracking of valuable assets, resulting in reduced risk and costs for the business.
Blockchain is aiding in faster and more accurate sharing of business-critical information through distributed ledgers hosted on a permission drive that can be easily accessed by permission network members.
Everything from tracking orders, making payments, checking books of accounts, to keeping track of the production pipeline can be accurately tracked using blockchain.
In this article, we will be looking at a few of the major problems in supply chain management in the defense and aerospace industry and how blockchain can help in its effective management throughout the lifecycle of business-critical assets.
Major Problems Faced by the Aerospace and Defense Industry in Supply Chain Management
A few major hurdles are being faced by the aerospace and defense industry where blockchain technology can be of immense help:
Critical Information is Still Manually Collected
Even though technology in the aerospace and defense sector has come a long way, critical information is still collected manually, leading to an expensive and time-consuming process.
For example, an airplane’s data with its history and condition is often spread across 40 different systems leading to an inefficient data collection process which is critical for the maintenance of aircraft.
The defense industry is dealing with the same state of affairs as the supply chain for sophisticated weaponry is largely managed via manual processes. This can delay the procurement of crucial parts required in the maintenance of weapons platforms, creating security issues and problems in operational readiness.
Issues with Supply Chain Support
Since most processes are still dependent on paperwork, even simple processes like receiving parts sometimes become difficult to manage.
Due to the extensive reliance on manual paperwork, things tend to move at a snail’s pace, with parts often getting delayed due to missing paperwork and issues taking weeks to rectify.
Less Transparency Across the Supply Chain Leading to An Efficient System
Currently, there is no system in place to manage proper records of parts and components that could trace their entire lifecycle from procurement to operation. This leads to an inefficient system with skewed historical records, as all parties involved create and store their viewpoint of the part.
Further, this often leads to an inefficient system as there is less transparency throughout the supply chain in absence of a part-centric perspective that tracks the entire lifecycle of the part from distribution to operation.
Challenges in Cyber Security
In the absence of a distributed network, airline and defense industries often face problems with decentralization and validating suppliers.
Generally, suppliers have to self-certify their cyber security protocols to state that they are safe; however, since that’s not a very reliable practice, defense agencies often need to conduct spot audits to check for compliance.
Since both aircraft and weapons systems data is mostly digitized these days, ensuring that all that data is safe from falling into the wrong hands is a major security challenge. Records with transaction-related data can be changed even by a single user with access to the system.
How is Blockchain Helping the Aerospace and Defense Industry Manage the Supply Chain Better?
All the issues mentioned earlier can be tackled using blockchain to better manage the overall supply chain in a much more efficient manner.
Let’s look at how blockchain technology is helping the aerospace and defense industry better manage the supply chain.
Promote Digital Traceability
Blockchain can provide shared visibility to stakeholders to track various parts used in both airplanes and defense platforms from their source of origin to installation and operation.
This can help create a valuable information stream and gain insights into the performance of the part over its lifecycle.
Improved Operational Execution
Effective supply chain support is a big challenge, as discussed, and blockchain technology can help solve this hurdle.
Parts can be shipped with an ASN or advanced shipping notice with all the requisite documents, providing access to a record to all parties involved even before the part has been shipped.
Further, chronological documentation can be created, helping in the proper process sharing and management of records leading to improved operational execution.
Increased Efficiency and Transparency with Supply Chain Partners
Blockchain ensures that the entire lifecycle of parts is properly documented, stored, and shared across a distributed network. This affirms that there is increased transparency throughout the supply chain, right from the manufacturing process to putting the asset or part in the operation.
Everything from raw materials reaching the assembly lines to the final component and its installation is easily trackable using blockchain. This prevents the counterfeiting or tampering of sensitive parts and components, leading to greater efficiency.
Moreover, the technology even enables tracking the names and certification levels of technicians performing specific repairs on sensitive assets.
Increased Forecasting Accuracy Throughout the Supply Chain
Much of the information supply chain partners provide in terms of inventory and lead-time data is inaccurate due to the pressure of meeting service level agreements and other contract terms.
Blockchain in India can help create an ecosystem MRP that would be helpful in providing a more accurate dataset for precise supply chain planning, thus, reducing stock-outs and overstocking of wrong parts in the inventory.
Enhanced Cyber security
Blockchain helps in decentralization as the record of transactions can be accessed by participating members through a distributed network that promotes transparency in the entire supply chain.
This ensures that no individual can act alone to change records or fudge data across the supply chain. Moreover, it helps tackle cybersecurity challenges being faced by the aerospace and defense industry by enhancing the overall data security throughout the supply chain network.
Once implemented, blockchain technology can help solve all the major problems faced by the defense and aerospace industry not only in managing the entire supply chain but also by helping increase transparency and efficiency of the entire system by tracking and helping eliminate gaps and loopholes existing within the system.
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