Blockchain technologies have fast become a fixture in the banking and financial sector and organisations across other industries are eager to see how the technology evolves. Research on Global Markets expects the blockchain market to be worth USD 13.96 billion globally by 2022 and the European Commission has recognised its impact by launching the Blockchain Observatory and Forum, to highlight developments of the technology and promote involvement by EU organisations.
For manufacturers specifically, the technology could be used to revolutionise the service supply chain. The most innovative brands should be thinking ahead, strategising if and how blockchain can be used to positively impact company performance.
With this in mind, here are three areas where blockchain could make the largest impact on manufacturing:
Transparency and Accountability
Manufacturers’ supply chains aren’t simple. They’re complex organisations with many moving parts, making full transparency and accountability vital, yet challenging. This is especially true when discussing the logistics of building and shipping service parts and equipment.
Blockchain technologies hold information in a shared and constantly updated database. This helps manufacturers with vast global networks by widening visibility and making all processes within a supply chain easier and more open. For example, if an automotive supplier ships faulty parts, OEMs who haven’t started using blockchain technologies will find themselves in a bind. Rather than having a growing log of activity to keep track of goods and transactions made between companies, these OEMs would have to chase down the malfunctioning parts themselves. Blockchain tech offers a safety net, giving manufacturers full control and a competitive edge over those who haven’t yet invested in the technology.
Also, the use of blockchain would help manufacturers solve problems before they turn into widespread problems. Take last year’s Chipotle restaurant crisis, for example. The company had trouble finding the source of an E. Coli outbreak—news that took the United States by storm. They didn’t succeed in preventing the contamination from occurring, nor could they pinpoint exactly which restaurants were infected before people became sick. No industry can afford to have this type of catastrophe slip through the cracks, and blockchain can help mitigate similar risks for manufacturers. With many different parts required to assemble large pieces of equipment – and with suppliers and partners located in every corner of the globe – blockchain gives these global organisations a way to monitor all parts in real-time, and prevent a problem before it spreads.
Moving Towards an Uptime Model
Up until this point, manufacturers have always practiced a break-fix, reactive model of service. This means they only perform maintenance or begin looking for a replacement part after a break down has already occurred. This model is inefficient and costly. Blockchain technology poses an opportunity for manufacturers to shift from this break-fix model to a subscription-based model that focuses on maximising product uptime instead of just reactively replacing broken parts. Manufacturers can use advanced software and predictive analytics in their supply chain processes to perform maintenance on existing equipment, and order spare parts before any sign of failure.
Blockchain can provide a heightened level of caution in the process, allowing an entire global service supply chain to monitor and control part movements and ensuring that every part in even the most complex supply chain networks are delivered on time. This takes efficiency to a whole new level, and keeps manufacturers afloat as manufacturing becomes more competitive.
Improving After-Sales Operations
Today’s technology is driving changes in so many industries. And manufacturers and suppliers need to adapt to increasing customer expectations. Today’s customers expect fast, accurate service right when it’s requested, putting serious stress on after-sales. Companies must invest in technologies – like blockchain – to help automate and monitor these processes and ensure success and customer satisfaction.
After-sales service is more important than ever. Manufacturers realise this, and have begun implementing strategic practices to make sure their supply chains are optimised and running efficiently. Senior executive teams understand the long-term financial value in a positive service experience that’s second to none, as well as the money saved when maximising uptime.
Recent third-party research studies show that optimising the service supply chain dramatically improves manufacturers’ financial performance. According to McKinsey, upwards of 15 percent of manufacturing companies’ total revenue comes from service and parts, while a Bain & Company report showed that service averages a gross margin of 39 percent — a number that’s much higher than those on most new products (27 percent). The Bain and Co. study also revealed that manufacturing companies’ service business grew by nine percent annually, compared to a five percent growth rate captured on the product side of the business.
Blockchain is an innovative technology, helping change the way companies do business for the better. The technology itself is constantly evolving—whether that be developmental or the way it is governed and regulated. As blockchain continues to be fine-tuned and further defined, manufacturers could begin to really capitalise on the opportunity the technology brings—to create a more transparent, accountable and efficient supply chain network than ever seen before.
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