It is reported that the world’s oldest Swiss watch manufacturing company, Vacheron Constantin, is planning on using blockchain to track its timepieces. The move aims to tackle the issue of fake pieces floating around and to guarantee the authenticity of the timepieces that people are going to get. The company has stated in a press release:
Blockchain certification serves to avoid paper authentication, which can easily be forged…This new technology makes it possible to create a forgery-proof digital certificate of authenticity, which follows the watch throughout its life, even if that involves several changes of owner. A unique number is thus assigned to a unique object, making the two inseparable and securing data relating to the property, value, nature and authenticity of the timepiece
Nobody wants to get a fake watch at the expense of an original one, which can also hurt market of the original watchmaker. The move by Vacheron Constantin is taken to utilize the transparency, trustlessness and immutability features of the blockchain, to ensure that people don’t get deceived and the brand name does not get hurt. The Les Collectionneurs program, launched by the company will involve timepieces that have blockchain-backing incorporated in the framework.
This news of tracking an item through blockchain does not come off as new. In the past, we have seen different companies like PepsiCo use blockchain to make their workflows better. But the major reason why blockchain proves its utility can be explained due to its decentralized aspect and its ability to keep an immutable and open record of transactions happening in a network, just like bitcoin.
In the bitcoin blockchain network, the record of every transaction that has ever happened in the network is kept by every node in the network. There is no central body maintaining the network, rather it is the decentralized nodes across the world that maintain the bitcoin blockchain. All new transactions, after validations, also get put in a distributed ledger which is accessible to every node. The record becomes immutable as well, meaning no one can now change it on their own. Thus, a transparent fabric of operation is established. But can the transactions be different than the ones used by traditional cryptocurrencies like bitcoin to store a different kind of information? The answer, yes.
The transaction structure can be changed to maintain whatever one wants to maintain in a blockchain-based network. Whether it is a process, a check, an approval, a piece of information or whatever. This is how blockchain steps out of the crypto world to find its use-cases in industries.
Supply-chain lies at the core of the industrial world and the blockchain technology finds its use-case in it almost perfectly. The modern supply-chain process is too complex and long to keep track of. The entire pipeline from collection of raw materials to deliverance of a product in a different continent has too many intricacies associated with it. If checks are placed in the way of components or a product from the point of their inception to the point of their deliverance and the information is put on a digital blockchain network, the pipeline becomes much easier. Being immutable, blockchain takes out the aspect of forgery and make the products more credible.
With the worth of blockchain highlighted, big names like PepsiCo, BMW, Intel, Walmart etc. are already trying to utilize blockchain technology to make their frameworks and products more efficient. As stated by the blockchain technology lead at BMW Group, Andre Luckow:
…blockchains enable us to improve cross-organisational and crossindustry collaboration by increasing efficiency and transparency.
The high-end luxury brand LVMH has already announced its aims of utilizing blockchain to track its luxury items and goods so that the authenticity of the products can be maintained.
The prospects of blockchain are hard to deny but the issue is surrounding the viability of applying this technology on the ground in real-life. Blockchain is not an inexpensive technology to deploy in the world. The cost/benefit analysis needs to be done before using it to improve the efficiency of a framework. Besides, there is a technological bottleneck in the form of scalability as well. Careful analysis needs to be done to assess how much transactions are going to happen on the network.
Although not every framework needs to be decentralized, in frameworks where transparency is of utmost importance, blockchain can prove to be revolutionary. Moving forward with the technology evolving and a lot of capital flowing in, it is expected that blockchain’s adoption in the industrial arena will only increase.