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New blockchain data network boosts manufacturing

A new proposal has been made for the development of a public, open-source network based on blockchains in order to share verifiable manufacturing data.

In the ever competitive manufacturing world, organizations need to find ways to collaborate and enable sharing of information in an inherently trust-less network. A solution to this is a comprehensive blockchain for manufacturing.The idea behind the new system comes from North Carolina State University, and the technology could be deployed as a peer-to-peer network. This would enable companies to locate small- and medium-sized manufacturers that are capable of producing specific components for them on a reliable basis. Moreover, each transaction step would be verifiable.

According to industry analysts, blockchain technologies have the potential to dynamically change the process of manufacturing. Examples of leading providers are IBM Blockchain, which can be used to help re-shape the supply chain and improve identity and data management and Blockchain Foundry, which develops blockchain-based services for prototypes and production for manufacturing applications. Other examples are with BigchainDB, which offers scalable blockchain services and Chain, which is a blockchain platform for financial services, as profiled by ZDNet.

Defined by Stephanie Neil, who is an editor at Automation World, blockchain is “an unalterable peer-to-peer record keeping system that enables communities to securely record and share information. Blockchain is best known as the core component of the digital currency Bitcoin. Each validated Bitcoin transaction creates a block, which attaches to the chain of blocks before it, thereby creating an easy-to-follow trail.”

With the new development, lead researcher Binil Starly provides more detail of the new blockchain for manufacturing concept: “A public network like the one we’re proposing would help potential clients find manufacturers with relevant expertise and equipment in an efficient way.”

The new idea is termed FabRec and it would would enable firms to automatically report data concerning their manufacturing activities. This would extend to the types if machines being used; the materials being used; raw material inventory levels; process run times and so on.

FabRec is a publicly-accessible, prototype network. At present, the system is reviving input from several industrial machines as part of the overall development of the system.

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