Few technologies come with the same admission price as blockchain. It has firmly rooted itself in popular discussions commonly centered around banking, cryptocurrency, and economics. Still, a majority of people don't fully understand what blockchain is, does, or how it stands to impact our era in swiftly advancing technology.
Still, the amorphous tech has vast potential in more industries than finance, even though we don’t hear about other industries and uses as readily. To its core, blockchain boils down to ownership.
We’ve heard more than our fill about blockchain in finance, but it’s been helpful in fashioning an understanding of how the technology works. Then, other industries can pick up the idea as well.
In a nutshell
It’s neither easy nor very fair to oversimplify the complexities of blockchain technology, but the fundamentals come down to a technological record of ownership that no one can alter. What began as data ownership in the academic world saw the idea flow into the famed cryptocurrency bitcoin, then trickle into numerous other industries. Here’s how blockchain works.
Basically, pieces of data are connected to each other in a veritably infinite chain of exchanges. Each block on the chain has its own uniquely assigned code, so that when more blocks are added to the chain, that string of codes changes with each new addition.
Any attempt to breach the chain and access the information on it will result in breaking the chain, leaving access to the data or value only to those who had used it legitimately.
How blockchain plays into manufacturing
Some industries are more accepting of change than others. Manufacturing has long been an industry set in its ways, which is understandable because it’s one of the oldest industries to first adapt technology. The trouble is, a lot of that technology is now out of date and could use a breath of fresh air.
Blockchain technology has a great deal to offer the world of manufacturing because, as we’ll keep reiterating, blockchain focuses so much on immutable ownership.
Imagine the number of individual parts that need to be assembled in the manufacturing process of, say, your microwave. A single microwave consists of thousands – if not tens of thousands – of individual pieces. That’s one microwave of the full production batch, which could call for millions. You get the picture.
Blockchain stands to provide a way to enact more control and insight in this process because everything would be on a real-time ledger of actions all visible on the blockchain.
Being able to track everything down to a single part and look at its place in the manufacturing lifecycle will grant visibility that plenty of manufacturing companies have rarely had the luxury of experiencing.
It will also help protect against fraudulent products. It’s not uncommon for some manufacturers to assemble cheaper products that closely mimic another brand. It’s difficult to spot these imposters without a trained eye, but blockchain in manufacturing could help disrupt the production of fake goods and protecting patents/trademarks.
This isn’t happening all at once and blockchain as a whole is still in its infancy, but it opens the door to the future. Be it in manufacturing, finance, or anything in between, blockchain is here to stay and will only grow. Rife with excitement, concern, and curiosity, the technological path we’re walking down will be undoubtedly fascinating.