Blockchain anchored supply chain automation
Increasing globalization, e-commerce usage, and social awareness are leading to increased consumer demand for variety, value, convenience, immediacy, verifiable authenticity and provenance, ethical materials sourcing and manufacturing, regulatory compliance, and services after sales. Fulfilling this increased complexity of consumer demand has required supply chains to evolve into multienterprise networks with numerous flow paths in production, merchandising, and fulfillment involving many organizational/institutional handoffs, to effectively manage a large number of complex products with shorter life cycles and high transaction volumes. The supply chain management models of today place higher demands on automation and require a transition from the traditional paradigm of planning followed by long-loop execution for a handful of segments to a paradigm of managing a portfolio of end-To-end instrumented data-rich microsegmented supply chains that are monitored and adjusted in near real time. These essential aspects and challenges of supply chain management require the supporting information technology to also evolve. In this paper, we propose a novel reference software architecture to address the complex requirements of modern supply chains that also integrates blockchain into several layers of the stack. We present several examples where this reference architecture is applicable, and then demonstrate through a use case in production that integrating blockchain technology helps with providing visibility, documenting provenance, and allowing permissioned data access to facilitate the automation of many high-volume tasks such as reconciliations, payments, and settlements.