This interview is part of our new Blockchain In Supply Chain Management series, where we interview the world's leading thought leaders on the front lines of the intersections between blockchain and supply chain management.
In this interview we speak with Mark Toohey, General Manager at TBSx3, to understand how his company is using blockchain to transform the supply chain management business, and what the future of the industry holds.
1. What’s the story behind TBSx3? Why and how did you begin?
MT: TBSx3 (to be sure, to be sure, to be sure) is a company built to deliver certainty. The health and safety of our loved ones should not be a matter of chance and whether we were lucky enough to be provided with genuine products. The tsunami of fake products is staggering in its impact. The are estimates from the head of the World Customs Organisation that there is now more fake medicine for sale in the world than real medicines. Interpol estimates over one million people are killed each year by fake medicines. Fake anti-malarials are the biggest killer, but fake Viagra also kills many. Online pharmacies can be vulnerable to selling fakes and this is where developed nations can also be impacted.
The turning point for me was when I learned that fake chemotherapy has even been detected in US hospitals. As a cancer survivor, I find that completely intolerable. TBSx3 is my response – a company dedicated to delivering genuine products to consumers.
It is also reported that the majority of the world's olive oil and honey is fake. Technology now provides a way for us to prevent these inferior, and possibly even dangerous, products. We simply should be able to ‘get what we paid for'.
2. Please describe your use case and how TBSx3 uses blockchain:
MT: We use a Russian Dolls aggregation of data. We label each individual item, packet or can, Items are then packed into cartons, cartons into pallets, and pallets into a container. Each carton, and pallet also receives a unique identity code – whether it be a QR code, NFC or RFID. We simply track the unique identity using whatever technology the brand owner believes is warranted given the value of the product.
We use private chains using a proof of stake model. Large supply chain companies have a very vested stake in ensuring there are no breaches of their security. The infiltration tends to happen as items and the item information moves between data silos. A pool of shared information stored in a blockchain helps eliminate those supply chain dark zones.
3. Could you share a specific customer/user that benefits from what you offer? What has your service done for them?
MT: We are working with wine, meat, seafood, and alternative medicine brands to secure their products. This combats the loss of sales to counterfeiters and the potentially devastating damage that could be done if a contaminated fake item caused injury or death. Brands can have the ability to prove the item was not theirs and they have done what they can to provide a safe product to their customers.
Though it is a rare occurrence, a product recall can inflict serious financial and administrative hardship on a business. We have built the capability to link to customers and to more rapidly, efficiently, and cost-effectively implement a product recall.
4. What other blockchain use cases in supply chain management are you excited about?
MT: The advantages of applying machine learning and IoT technologies to the supply chain are obvious. Customers can be assured that their products were kept within the optimum temperature range throughout the entire journey. Of course, there is a lot of other useful information that can be provided to assure customers that their expectations regarding humidity, vibration, and location were met.
We have some major announcements we will be making in the their future about our ability to comprehensively deliver a paddock to plate solution. We know there is a strong demand for information about the origins of ingredients and products. Many of us want to be sure the products we are buying are sustainably sourced or organically produced. Whatever our individual preferences, blockchain technology can reliably deliver verified information that can assist consumers to make informed decisions.
5. Where will TBSx3 be in five years?
MT: We will be a platform that includes various technologies that deliver a complete outcome for both brand owners and their customers. Our end goal is to help restore trust to world trade.
We live in an era where anything of value is soon copied and mass produced. The end result can be a loss of profits, brand reputation damage, or even deadly. Fortunately, we also live in an era where clever new technologies we can deliver solutions. It will take time and dedication, but age-old problems can be tackled and defeated.
We are building a cost-effective and efficient system that protects brands, consumers, and logistics businesses.
While our initial market is protecting Australian exports to Asia, and particularly China, we have expansion plans. We soon hope to be able to offer similar protection to US and European brands.