The dawn of industry 4.0

Category: Blockchain

With advancing automation and visibility of processes achieved with data, customer expectations are growing in the same exponential manner, requiring constant optimization of processes and transactions


Words by Dan Weinberger, co-founder and CEO of Morpheus.Network

Supply Chain Management is gradually moving from a supporting role in businesses to a profit center with “customer facing business models”. Think of offers like Amazon Prime that render Logistics and Business Processes into its own revenue stream. Digitalization and new technologies are key enablers for this development. They overcome existing problems within complex intertwined Supply Chains and offer the chance to monetize new services.

With advancing automation and visibility of processes achieved with data, customer expectations are growing in the same exponential manner, requiring constant optimization of processes and transactions

 The commonly identified problem areas include:

1.    Manual regulation and complex documentation cause time loss, risk of human errors, and increased process costs, especially in cases of unintended non-compliance with regulations.

2.    Difficult backtracking of disruptions and contaminations to the source, hindering clear accountability for claims and preventing damaged brand reputation by contaminated goods.

3.    Inadequate communications and lack of trust between parties due to fragmented, non-synchronized information, resulting in inefficiencies, risk of errors and complications in stock management.

4.    Inability to create full traceability and transparency of the supply chain from sourcing and production to the end user, complicating the risk of fraud and quality assurance.

How can new technologies help to solve these problems? Over the last decade, an interesting mix of new technologies has emerged that can help to overcome existing issues.

On the process level, the rapid development of Artificial Intelligence technologies has enabled machines to learn faster and become more efficient, regardless if it’s in production, warehouse or shipping stages. Recently, the fields of Process Mining and Robotic Process Automation promise to make the actual process better by removing manual steps or pinpointing workflows that are prone to failure. With the dawn of Industry 4.0, production processes in most industries already rely on data and create usable datasets for later stages of the Supply Chain.

Regarding the actual goods being handled, IoT devices and new sensor technologies are supporting transparency and traceability. Whether it is GPS sensors, temperature measuring devices or scanning solutions like QR, RFID or NFC technologies, they all enable digital identification of physical goods. For documentation needs, digital document technologies like OCR scanners or digital signatures (DocuSign etc.) are supporting automation further.

On a network level, especially Distributed Ledger Technologies (or DLT), based on the concept of Blockchains, have started to garner attention for their ability to create trustless networks of multiple parties. They provide a data notarization and exchange layer that can also support the automation of underlying business processes with smart contracts that elicit payments or other actions when certain conditions are met.

The real beauty lies in combining multiple technologies to reap the fruits of digitalization. Basically, all parties strive for the same goal: fully digitized processes that deliver trustworthy, machine readable datasets to exchange information, optimize processes and ultimately, create transparency and provenance along the entire Supply Chain, from production to consumption.

The real beauty lies in combining multiple technologies to reap the fruits of digitalization

This is where Morpheus.Network steps in with their middleware solution: 

It allows companies to leverage new technologies effortlessly without the hassle of replacing existing legacy systems or reconfiguring IT architectures. Essentially, it creates a digital twin of Supply Chain processes with a modular, event-based architecture. The solution can be integrated into existing systems with predefined data handover points and interfaces, e.g. from production, ERP systems or Third Parties like forwarding agents that supply tracking data.

The platform allows the integration and combination of multiple data sources with an easy user interface, regardless if its IoT devices, QR scans, documentation or complex production data. By pooling data in one software and allowing the combination with internal datasets (ensuring data protection of sensitive information), two major benefits can be realized: an automated, fully digitized data exchange with multiple parties and transparent, controllable processes.

Morpheus.Network uses Distributed Ledger Technologies as a backend protocol to harmonize data and create a trust layer for data exchanges. Processes are turned into fully digitized workflows that combine all datasets in machine-readable formats, allowing integration of the physical, monetary and documentation flows. With all data in one place, effective algorithms can be implemented for optimizing and automating processes based on events, timestamps, and outside data like GPS, temperature, or digital document sign-offs.

Exemplary use cases:

1.   Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL)

Digitized documentation, regulatory frameworks, and trusted information exchange between multiple parties

FCL uses Morpheus.Network to manage its complex supplier document management system across Canada, linking hundreds of suppliers. This replaces a largely manual process where thousands of regulatory certifications and documents from more than 150 suppliers are collected and managed by FCL which all need to be scanned, validated, processed, and tracked. The new solution automates the management of documents from each supplier and provides a self-service portal for suppliers in the integrated Document Handling System. All documentation can be generated through APIs and attached directly to the order/supply chain workflow and easily exchanged between all parties. By using OCR scanning technologies and digital documents, machine readable information is generated to reduce manual intervention to a minimum and allow automation of processes, resulting in higher efficiency and reduced risk of errors.

2.   Vitalcan

Process automation and digitalization to provide a trusted Digital Footprint to track and trace each step of the process and goods shipped

Vitalcan uses the Morpheus.Network workflow builder for automating inbound and outbound workflows of nutritional solutions, falling under the regulatory framework for Agri-Food compliance. The solution includes setting up a unique QR code for each shipment, enabling key stakeholders to add digitized documents and data in real-time. By using QR codes, transparency is extended to the end consumer, allowing the safeguarding and the authenticity of products e.g. organic food practices or fair trade standards – increasing the likelihood of brand loyalty.

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