With the price of one bitcoin heading into cost of a new car territory, there’s a lot of hype around blockchain. And most of it is focused around financial systems, e.g. ledger management, etc. One of the unique properties of blockchain is all parties know the same information, and cannot falsify it. This makes it really neat for e.g. counter-party risk swaps, derivatives, etc, that the more complex financial services are focused on.
But what about the bread and butter of main street industry? Its around inventory management. And recently we have seen some big names (Kobe, Mitsubishi) admit to falsifying test records (or applying improper test process), calling into question the safety of downstream items. And we have issues with fraud and counterfeit parts which can cause real issues (e.g. who would want to fly on an aircraft with a counterfeit flux capacitor?).
Aircraft parts are all stamped with a unique serial number. But you can counterfeit these by just stamping the same number, or finding end of life parts and recycling their numbers. Imagine that ‘Rolex’ you bought on ebay. Did you really get a great deal, or did you get a class-A copywatch? Its got a serial #, why not just check? O wait…
This in turn can cause uncertainty on purchasing said aircraft, was it maintained properly, are all the parts real, etc.
Now imagine this applies to all industries. Food safety? Where was that fish caught? Was that taco recalled? Was one of the ingredients later found out to be horse? is this really tuna in my sashimi, or is it butterfish and pink die?
Compounding this problem of inventory management is the complexity of our global supply chain. Buy a car, it has thousands of components, each of which might have hundreds of sub-components etc. And those are made by a large set of manufacturers. This AC Delco radio might have a Panasonic LCD, which in turn uses AC Delco transistors. Each time something crosses the boundary of company A to company B, there is a mediation of sorts. Each has its own inventory management and unique part number and serial. So you have a mapping. And, this gets wrong (shocking), or people don’t bother, and track by lot (here’s your lot of 1M transistors).
What if we could construct a universal inventory management system. One that all companies would be able to use and trust. One that it would be impossible to counterfeit parts. A given part could be in only one spot in the universe at a time. The serial of each device would be its hash. You can’t fool it, everyone has access to the same info, and the cost of keeping it up to date is small, without errors introduced by mapping. When a safety recall or other audit is needed, you can find where it is, and how it got there.
OK, so here’s the plan. We start coding this afternoon. We do our ICO next friday. And in a couple of weeks after that, we pass SAP in market capitalisation.