by Cindy Huynh
Shane Wall, HP’s chief technology officer, believes blockchain technology could help manufacturers eliminate the problem of copycat parts in the industry.
Blockchain can Help Manufacturers
According to a conversation with Forbes, Wall mentioned that by uploading and encoding the intellectual property and rights associated with these specific parts on the blockchain, it could help manufacturers have more control over their designs. Control is significant when manufacturing goes digital where parts are produced, and 3D components are printed in different locations.
“It will radically change counterfeiting of parts, which is a huge issue today,” said Wall. “I think it is so interesting and so disruptive.”
Wall believes that industrial uses concerning the emerging technology are relatively new and are two to five years off from the future. The time it takes for blockchain technology to take off for the manufacturing industry will most likely depend on how popular and widespread 3D printing will be. <
Blockchain in the Digital Age
Ideally, all of the vital information concerning the manufactured parts, from the designer to the individual keeping rights to produce the product, could be placed on the blockchain. The need to keep track of a product in a central location becomes increasingly essential as manufacturing becomes more digital since design and manufacturing are often not in the same location.
“I can track every single physical part,” said Wall. “The printer prints it out and modifies the blockchain. After it completes the part, it updates the blockchain, and says, one is printed and you only have 999,999 you can do.”
Wall even suggested that all products could contain a watermark that could be 3D printed on the product linked to the blockchain but cannot be seen by the naked eye. “It could tell me that it is an authentic part and who owns it,” said Wall. “After I have made the part, now I have the intellectual property address for every single part out there, whether plastic or metal, that we can track in a supply chain. That is what is radical about blockchain in manufacturing.”
Industry Standards to Form Soon
As the manufacturing industry begins to embrace blockchain technology, Wall believes there will be defined industry standards, especially as manufacturing goes digital. However, as manufacturing becomes less centralized Wall believes that the policymakers have a significant role to play as they need to consider jobs, taxes, and tariffs.
Despite Wall’s optimism, on Forbes Tech Twitter Page, Steve Faktor, an influential entrepreneur, and CEO of IdeaFaktory profoundly disagreed with Wall’s beliefs. He was “Doubtful” and mentioned that “Unless the fraud somehow happens mid-supply chain, not a manufacturer.” He believes that blockchain “like any tracking system, is only as trustworthy as those inputting the data. It can’t supplant traditional assurance processes.”