Alberto Lozano/123RF

German Research Institute Advances RFID and Blockchain Supply Overlap

  • 28 February 2018
  • Cas Proffitt

The Fraunhofer Institute is developing a blockchain and RFID tracking system for consumer goods and other parts of the supply chain.

Blockchain has been represented with numerous high-level value propositions. Among those, supply chain has been cited for years. The Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) has taken a necessary step to put blockchain to use within supply chain, by integrating RFID tags with the blockchain to ensure a consistent and reliable source of product information.

The end result, decentralized storage of location and other information provided by RFID transmitters can have many different methods of implementation, most of which will be reliant on the needs of a given client. In order to address the hole in the market, the Fraunhofer IPMS develops unique solutions for each of their clients.

Despite their current lack of a functional finished product with blockchain integration, they do offer wireless RFID systems which can be integrated with a blockchain network. They will be presenting some of their solutions at the 2018 LogiMat Trade Fair.

According to their Feb. 22nd press release, Fraunhofer IPMS seeks to move beyond simply tracking the location of finished products. They are also developing a solution to monitor raw materials, semi-finished goods, and other parts of the supply chain which may impact consumer decisions.

To ensure the validity of their information, Fraunhofer IPMS is combining blockchain technology with their lightweight RFID transponders. RFID transponders can be used to transmit information such as moisture, temperature, location, and much more since IOT has disrupted the supply chain industry.

Fraunhofer IPMS displays a desire to provide consumers with a complete record of the sourcing of their goods, the conditions in which their purchases have been kept, and any struggles on the journey to market. Some consumer-facing companies have toyed with the idea of providing blockchain-based validation of their supplies, but in many ways, the technology to do so is still young.

Some examples of companies which are seeking to provide immutable supply verification via the blockchain are Unilever, De Beers, Wal-Mart, and more. Tea, wine, diamonds, finished consumer goods, raw materials, and more can all benefit greatly from a more automated, trustless system of authentication.

According to a 2009 McKinsey study, between 10% and 50% of supply chain costs can be cut out by businesses, prior to the advent of blockchain technology. Removal of some middleman costs and trusted party verification can cut that figure substantially more.

Wal-Mart and IBM tested blockchain to track the history of a mango through the supply chain, and the results were monumental. Several days to weeks of manpower were reduced to just seconds on the blockchain.

Would you like to see everywhere your food has been, and how it was kept? Let us know in the comments below!

About Cas Proffitt

Cas is a B2B Content Marketer and Brand Consultant who specializes in disruptive technology. She covers topics like artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, blockchain, and big data, to name a few. Cas is also co-owner of an esports organization and spends much of her time teaching gamers how to make a living doing what they love while bringing positivity to the gaming community.