Blockchain Technology for the Internet of Things Applications in Apparel Supply Chain Management

Blockchain Technology for the Internet of Things Applications in Apparel Supply Chain Management

Kamalendu Pal (City, University of London, UK)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 34
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2414-5.ch010

Abstract

Adoption of the internet of things (IoT) and blockchain technology opens new opportunities of business process automation in apparel supply chain management. The IoT technology helps to capture real-time information from different aspects of garment manufacturing activities by using radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and sensors. Blockchain technology is an emerging concept of computing that enable the decentralized and immutable storage of business transactions. In combination with IoT, blockchain technology can enable a broad range of application scenarios to enhance business value and trust. This chapter presents some of the blockchain-based IoT technology applications in apparel business processes. Moreover, the chapter provides a classification of threat models, which are considered by blockchain protocols in IoT networks. Finally, the chapter provides a taxonomy and a side-by-side comparison of the state-of-the-art methods towards secure and privacy-preserving blockchain technologies concerning the blockchain model, specific security goals, performance, and limitations.
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Introduction

Apparel (i.e. textile and clothing) industry is an integral part of the world economy and society (Pal & Ul-Haque, 2020) (Pal, 2020). In recent decades, global apparel manufacturing businesses are inclined to worldwide activities due to the economic advantage of the globalization of product design and development (Pal, 2020a). In a typical textile and clothing supply chain is the sequence of organizations – their facilities, functions, and activities – that involved in producing and developing a product or service. The sequence begins with raw materials purchase from selective suppliers and products are made at one or more manufacturing plants (Pal, 2019). Then these products are moved to intermediate collection points (e.g., warehouse, distribution centers) to store temporarily to move to next stage of supply chain and ultimately deliver the products to intermediate-users or retailers or customers (Pal, 2017) (Pal, 2019). The path from supplier to the customer can include several intermediaries – such as wholesalers, warehouse, and retailers, depending on the products and markets. Also, global apparel supply chains becoming increasingly heterogeneous and complicated due to a growing need for inter-organizational and intra-organizational connectedness, which is enabled by advances in modern technologies and tightly coupled business processes. Hence, information has been an important strategic asset in apparel business operational management. The apparel business networks are also using the information systems to monitor the supply chain activities ((Pal & Ul-Haque, 2020).

As a result, many global textile and clothing businesses are investing in new information and communication technology (ICT) to harness the smooth information sharing ability in supply chain operations (Pal & Ul-Haque, 2020). With the recent progress in Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, low-cost wireless sensor hardwires, and world wide web technologies, the Internet of Things (IoT) advance has attracted attention in connecting global apparel business activities and sharing operational business information. These technologies promise to reshape the modus operandi of modern supply chains through enhanced data collection as well as information sharing and analysis between collaborating supply chain stakeholders. In this way, IoT technology supports the capability to connect and integrate both digital and physical business world. The process is quite simple: (i) collect data from real-world objects, (ii) communicate and aggregate those data into information, and (iii) present clear results to systems or users so that decisions can be made or object behaviour adapted.

Different research groups analysed IoT technology deployment-related issues in SCM and logistics (Atzori et al., 2018) (Gubbi et al., 2013). Particularly, a group of researchers reviewed the energy management in smart factories and concluded that IoT powered manufacturing can improve supply chain competitiveness through more effective tracking of the flow of materials, and leading to improvements in the effectiveness and efficiencies of important business processes (Shrouf et al., 2014). The other important characteristics of IoT-based systems (e.g. sharing precise and timely information related to production, quality assurance, distribution, and logistics) are also reported in the context of multi-party supply chains (Chen et al., 2014) (Cui, 2018) (Yan-e, 2011). Also, the use of IoT applications inside the production plant can increase the visibility of parts and processes, and by extension, using IoT devices along the supply chain can help to boost productivity, reduce operational costs, and enhance customer satisfaction (Deloitte, 2017).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Smart Contract: Smart contracts are made from software coding and can self-perform autonomously. Depending on a range of factors, they may sometimes amount to binding contracts in the legal sense or otherwise affect legal relationships between parties.

Time-Stamped: A time stamp is associated with each block and this allows all participants to know when a transaction recorded by a blockchain occurred. This is likely to be particularly useful when it is necessary to prove transacting history (for example – legal or regulatory reasons).

Decentralized Computing Infrastructure: These computing infrastructures feature computing nodes that can make independent processing and computational decisions irrespective of what other peer computing nodes may decide.

Cryptography: Cryptography is the science of keeping communications private. It is the study of methods of sending messages in disguised form so that only the intended recipients can remove the disguise and read the message. Blockchain’s transactions achieve validity, trust, and finality based on cryptographic proofs and underlying mathematical computations between various trading partners.

Blockchain: In simple, a blockchain is just a data structure that can be shared by different users using computing data communication network (e.g. peer-to-peer or P2P). Blockchain is a distributed data structure comprising a chain of blocks. It can act as a global ledger that maintains records of all transactions on a blockchain network. The transactions are time stamped and bundled into blocks where each block is identified by its cryptographic hash .

Warehouse: A warehouse can also be called storage area and it is a commercial building where raw materials or goods are stored by suppliers, exporters, manufacturers, or wholesalers, they are constructed and equipped with tools according to special standards depending on the purpose of their use.

Supply Chain Management: A supply chain consists of a network of key business processes and facilities, involving end users and suppliers that provide products, services, and information. In this chain management, improving the efficiency of the overall chain is an influential factor; and it needs at least four important strategic issues to be considered: supply chain network design, capacity planning, risk assessment and management, and performances monitoring and measurement.

Provenance: In a blockchain ledger, provenance is a way to trace the origin of every transaction such that there is no dispute about the origin and sequence of the transactions in the ledger.

Hashing: Software causes the block header to be “hashed”. Hashing is the process by which a grouping of digital data is converted into a single number, called a hash. The number is unique (effectively a “digital fingerprint” of the source data) and the source data cannot be reverse engineered and recovered from it.

Internet of Things (IoT): The internet of things (IoT), also called the internet of everything or the Industrial Internet, is now technology paradigm envisioned as a global network of machines and devices capable of interacting with each other. The IoT is recognized as one of the most important areas of future technology and is gaining vast attention from a wide range of industries.

Immutability: This term refers to the fact that blockchain transactions cannot be deleted or altered.

Blockchain Headers: The block header is dependent on the combination of messages in the block. It lists the transaction(s), the time at which the list was made, and a reference back to the hash of the most recent block.

Block: A block is a data structure used to communicate incremental changes to the local state of a node. It consists of a list of transactions, a reference to a previous block and a nonce.

Transparency: In a fully permissionless blockchain, all messages (including – when consensus has been reached – when they have been included on a blockchain as blocks) sent by participants are visible to all other participants.

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