Although it is still early days, blockchain technology is already being applied to some major social challenges and is a great way of making secure records without central verification. Recently, we were introduced to Catenaut’s blockchain system, a unique solution that is currently not available anywhere else.
It was not long ago that we published an article that looked at how blockchain was going to be key in improving the fashion industry’s supply chain. As blockchain continues to evolve past being just another buzz word, we find ourselves excited to find out more about Catenaut’s blockchain system. Their new solution offers all the benefits of IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric blockchain technology, which they have specifically adapted for use in the forest products industry.
Simply put, blockchain systems are based on creating unique records and then “hashing” those records to form a 256 digit serial number, commonly referred to as a “token”. Catenaut’s blockchain solution starts by creating this token from forest harvesting information obtained by the FMC system. They then track the token through the supply chain and “attach” it to finished products.
So how does it work? Well, the token is tracked through the supply chain by integrating their blockchain program with mill work order or business process systems (typically SAP). SAP integration allows them to convert the millions of forest harvesting tokens into a single “token” specific to the mill and product produced. The new “finished product” token contains all the information from the process steps leading up to its creation and a record of all the forest harvesting tokens that were used in its creation.
On this Jeremy Jones, Founder and Owner of Catenaut, explained “Since each load in the supply chain receives a hash that is recorded by the producing mill, the consuming mill, and our blockchain server, we are able to develop a distributed ledger of accounts that is completely anonymous and secure. This kind of insight for participating businesses is unheard of in the forest products industry today. Additionally, the distributed ledger aspect of the system eliminates any possibility of fraudulently misidentifying forests of origin – or using incorrect certification numbers.”
The end result is that the finished product token is “attached” and remains with the product as it moves through the supply chain. Because the tokens are all 256 digit hashes the privacy and security of any confidential information contained within is assured. In addition, the unique hash value ensures tokens can only be used once, so the validity of the information is unquestionable. Consequently, the blockchain easily scales to meet the needs of more complex supply chains, but still retains the value for chain of custody and certification.
We can only appreciate Catenaut’s blockchain solution and the fact that they have managed to not only create an anonymous token that identifies the load in the mill accounting system, but they have also made sure that it contains information about the forest of origination and other sustainability metrics. By harnessing blockchain for sustainability, we wonder, will Catenaut’s solution be the wake up call for the fashion industry to embrace this game-changing technology? Is blockchain destined to be part of its future? Well, I guess only time will tell.