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Label: transversality

How blockchain opens the door to new use cases in the supply chain?

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Blockchain has been gaining interest for several years in several sectors of activity such as finance with crypto-currencies or the art world with NFTs. But how does blockchain open the doors to new use cases in the supply chain?

After the publication of the White Paper Supply Chain x Blockchain and a first webinar in June 2021 explaining the principles of blockchain and its use in the supply chain, a second webinar was held on 8 July 2022. Two companies were present to present their concrete use cases of blockchain in their Supply Chain.

  • Improve traceability of mica supply chains to ensure sustainable sourcing and eradicate child labour
  • Another example on the traceability of 3TG (ore)
  • Use case on milk and supply chain traceability to make flows and stocks visible
  • Example of increasing transparency to the consumer

Answers to the questions asked at this conference:

  • How does blockchain enable full auditability better than without?

    Matthieu Hug (Tilkal): A blockchain network acts like a decentralised database. It allows different actors to write data completely independently of each other, and without anyone being able to modify the written data. Each piece of data is electronically signed by the sender. The network records a fingerprint of each piece of data and copies it to each participant. Thus each participant in the network has an independent copy of these fingerprints (the database or register of the blockchain), which constitutes an independent and unalterable proof of the sending of each piece of data, by whom and when. All data uploads are therefore independently auditable, without a centralizing third party having the technical capacity to modify the data.

    This is simply not possible today without blockchain or similar technology.

  • Is the issue of traceability discussed with the States? If we take the example of traceability, in particular to ensure that the origin of the product does not involve child labour, blockchain will not solve the basic problem.

    Olivier Dubourdieu (RMI): Indeed, traceability is only a tool, serving the objective of eradicating child labour. In itself, blockchain will not solve anything on its own. On the other hand, traceability (based on blockchain technology) is an excellent tool for measuring, monitoring and evaluating progress towards the complete eradication of child labour (and other human rights violations).

    To answer the first part of the question, the RMI's approach is holistic. Thus, the issue of child labour is discussed with the States, but the initiative also implements programmes to support the communities of artisanal mica miners, to diversify and improve their sources of income, to guarantee access to quality education, to ensure an acceptable level of health and nutrition, etc. The causes of child labour are numerous and the initiative's objective is to address them all effectively. Once these programmes have been set up, the objective is to include the States in the reflection when it comes to traceability and performance monitoring, and also to include the communities (via cooperatives, mining groups, etc.).

  • With the Tilkal approach can you trace the carbon footprint from upstream to downstream?

    Matthieu Hug (Tilkal): Yes, Tilkal can trace carbon emission data, as well as any other type of data relating to the value chain, from upstream to downstream. For example, we track environmental data of this type as part of a vertical offer that we have developed with a partner for the textile sector (Footbridge).

  • Is it possible to see Tilkal's PF traceability live?

    Olivier Dubourdieu (RMI): unfortunately, the RMI platform already contains confidential data, but I'm sure Matthieu (CEO of Tilkal) will be able to offer you a demo!

    Matthieu Hug (Tilkal): with pleasure! Just contact us

  • Some actors must want to protect their information, is the blockchain 100% private or hybrid?

    Matthieu Hug (Tilkal) : Especially not private: a "private blockchain" (i.e. controlled by a single actor) has in essence no auditability properties because the single actor who controls it can technically modify all the data.

    The network deployed by Tilkal is said to be "permissioned": its access is reserved for identified and authorised B2B actors. Moreover, the confidentiality of the data is total because the blockchain network only contains "fingerprints" of the data: these are sufficient for the objective of auditability, but it is impossible to guess the original document from these fingerprints.

  • Do you have any use cases in agriculture, on how certain agricultural materials are grown, or how certain animals are raised?

    Matthieu Hug (Tilkal): Yes, several: milk collections, origin of vegetable milks (soya, almonds), fish and shrimps, and transport of livestock (sheep, cattle, pigs, goats) to an African country.

  • By whom and how is the source information (product origin) integrated into the blockchain? Did the traceability system require the equipment of certain stakeholders?

    Matthieu Hug (Tilkal): Each stakeholder writes the data that concerns them. This is done in different ways depending on the context: via API with existing systems or via simple mobile applications (provided and adapted to the use case) or via web forms or via IoT sensors. From the point of view of the operators capturing the data, the blockchain is invisible.

  • How do you ensure that the information entered by the suppliers is reliable? I can very well say that I hardly make the children work when I do? It's still a tool that hardly works on its own.

    Olivier Dubourdieu (RMI): Indeed, on the RMI side, it remains a declarative tool, where the veracity of the data entered is not guaranteed. That said, several safeguards have been put in place to ensure reliable data:

    • The data is reported by all members of the RMI, i.e. by both suppliers and their customers. We are able to compare the reported data and identify potential differences.
    • The blockchain, because it guarantees the link between the date, the identity of the person who shared the data, and the shared data itself, makes the data auditable. Thus, anyone who has a doubt about a piece of data shared on the platform can request an audit of the data and identify any inconsistencies.

    Matthieu Hug (Tilkal): see on Tilkal here.

  • Is it possible to see the RMI traceability platform live?

    Olivier Dubourdieu (RMI): unfortunately, the RMI platform already contains confidential data, but I'm sure Matthieu (CEO of Tilkal) will be able to offer you a demo!

  • What has blockchain technology enabled that not using blockchain could not?

    Matthieu Hug (Tilkal): data auditability, which makes it possible to create the traceability proof mechanism, which is increasingly required by new regulations in Europe and the US in particular (duty of care and reversal of the burden of proof). The Tilkal platform adds real time tracking and sharing while maintaining confidentiality.

  • What is the blockchain used by this platform? Is it private or public?

    Matthieu Hug (Tilkal): Blockchain network deployed by Tilkal. 74 independent nodes currently deployed, managed by our clients and some of their suppliers. This is a strictly B2B network, known as "permissioned" (authorised and authenticated access, subject to terms of use).

  • What is the name of this digital tool please? Platform used by Olivier.

    Olivier Dubourdieu (RMI): We use the traceability platform developed by Tilkal, which is based on blockchain technology. I'm sure Matthieu can tell you more!

  • Can we say that digital (via blockchain in particular) is a lever for a transition towards a greener supply chain?

    Olivier Dubourdieu (RMI): traceability based on blockchain technology allows (among other things) two things:

    • To emphasise that the solution to child labour upstream of a supply chain is everyone's business, that each actor in the chain shares a part of the responsibility for the problem, but also and above all for the solution.
    • Monitor and evaluate the impacts of actions implemented by supply chain actors engaged in transformation.

    Matthieu Hug (Tilkal): To talk about the transition to a greener supply chain, you have to be able to measure the supply chain permanently and end to end. It is therefore necessary to be able to trace the supply chain end to end, including in "scope 3" to use the terminology related to carbon emissions. However, such traceability is massively lacking today, or is very difficult to access and use (paper). In this sense, digital technology (and in particular blockchain) makes it possible to resolve the issue of end-to-end traceability, and therefore to measure the supply chain and assess its impact.

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