Schneider Electric brings traceability to the supply chain

Schneider and Microsoft develop PoC to track food supply chain with blockchain

Schneider's End to End Traceability application will use blockchain and IoT to improve food and beverage supply chains.
Schneider's End to End Traceability application will use blockchain and IoT to improve food and beverage supply chains.

Schneider Electric and Microsoft are developing a blockchain and IoT-based solution to create end-to-end traceability in the food supply chain.

The solution, which is in proof-of-concept, will allow food and beverage companies to gain full insight into products and to better manage increasingly complex supply chains, stricter regulation and more demanding consumers.

Schneider Electric, which has 21 of the Global Top 25 major Food and Beverage companies among its customers, said it worked with a major fresh produce retail group, a distributor and a transporter to develop the prototype ‘End to End Traceability' application. The application was shown at the Schneider Innovation Summit in Paris in April, and the company is still developing the idea.

The solution will utilise Schneider's EcoStruxure IoT platform, and incorporates cutting-edge Schneider Electric technologies, including shock/humidity Telemecanique Sensors and a ‘click-to-cloud' system for reporting secure information from connected objects and sensors. To manage efficiently the information from these different sources, Schneider Electric has drawn on its partner Microsoft's Azure cloud platform and knowledge of blockchain technology.

The supply chain will be managed by blockchain-enabled smart contracts. The contracts will automatically execute the service terms and conditions agreed by the different stakeholders (delivery times, temperature/humidity/shock levels, etc.). Each telemetric reading is archived securely in the blockchain and shared between all members to ensure traceability. Lastly, the blockchain protocol used (Ethereum) and the targeted governance (consortium blockchain) ensure to develop a project with very low energy-consumption.

In addition to ensuring full product traceability, the application will also offer time savings by warning the distributor in real time of any delays in delivery or production.

Benjamin Jude, Food and Beverage Segment Solution Architect at Schneider Electric commented: "With this prototype, these companies can build an electronic passport for each product to fully automate the contracts between them. For example, leveraging IoT, they can maintain an unbroken cold chain."

Thomas Conté, cloud engineer and blockchain evangelist at Microsoft, noted: "Blockchain is a digital technology that allows all members of an ecosystem to automatically share a common and unique truth on all their interactions. That truth is fully transparent to all of them, and all of them contribute to generating and storing that truth. It generates trust between those members."

Microsoft partnered with Schneider Electric to select the most suitable blockchain technology and to build the PoC using Azure Blockchain as a service.

Conté continued: "The smart contracts leverage the truth shared by all stakeholders to automatically execute tasks like payments or products recalls, and improve collaboration between all of them."

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