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Blockchain – a great opportunity for supply chains

The topic of blockchains found its way into logistics a long time ago. There is much interest from the sector in this technology. It is hardly surprising, considering the many advantages this algorithm-based process provides.

Blockchain technology has the following features:

  • Transparency: all transactions are codified in consecutive blocks on the chain.
  • Tamper-proof: entries cannot subsequently be changed.
  • Efficiency: transactions can be processed in a matter of seconds.
  • Trustworthy: it builds trust between contracting parties who do not yet know each other but want to transact business. Since verification is based on algorithms, trust can be programmed into the process in the true meaning of the word.
  • Cost-efficient: it cuts out the middleman, which reduces costs.

There is much interest in this technology within our industry. Yet, to date, there are only a few use cases which go beyond the proof-of-concept stage. One obstacle certainly is the lack of standards, either within a distributed ledger solution or between various distributed ledger architectures.

Integration of GS1 standards

The first Swiss Blockchain Hackathon, which was held in June 2019, demonstrated that GS1 standards can be integrated into a blockchain without any problems. One possibility, for example, would be the integration of the following GS1 identification codes:

  • GTIN (global trade item number) for identifying products and services
  • GLN (global location number) for identifying locations
  • GRAI (global returnable asset identifier) for identifying carriers
  • SSCC (serial shipping container code) for identifying transport units.

EPCIS (electronic product code information service) events and the CBV (core business vocabulary) can also be integrated. The advisers at GS1 Switzerland look forward to supporting you in setting up blockchains.

The aim of GS1 Switzerland

GS1 Switzerland is confident that GS1 standards will advance blockchain technology. The industry association is working together with start-ups and solutions partners to identify possible applications. The experts intend to determine, in particular, the optimum relationship of public and confidential information in a blockchain and how the insights gained from the hackathon can be transferred to other industries. The industry association plans to launch a blockchain pilot project using GS1 standards in the near future.