Blockchain Coming to Aerospace Supply Chains

Accenture and Thales demonstrated how decentralized computing could be used to secure and simplify aerospace and defense supply chains.

aerospace supply chain

The global professional services company Accenture and Thales — the technology provider in the Aerospace, Transport, Defense and Security markets — have teamed-up to develop a blockchain-based system that could help secure and streamline the complex global supply chains supporting the aerospace and defense (A&D) industry.

The two giants used this year’s Farnborough Air Show to demonstrate their Hyperledger Fabric-based solution that combines blockchain, internet-of-things (IoT) and other innovative technologies — including Thales’s physically unclonable function (PUF) solution for silicon chips and Chronicled’s tamper-proof cryptoseals — to track, trace and authenticate aircraft parts and materials. As a result, the system would be able to identify and eliminate counterfeit and grey-market supplies.

Developed as part of Thales’ firmwide digital innovation program, the solution provides a single, shared view of the supply chain — along with an immutable audit trail — for partnering suppliers, manufacturers and operators.

“The aerospace and defense industry has one of the world’s most vast and complex supply chains,” John Schmidt, global managing director for Accenture’s Aerospace and Defense practice, said in a statement. “Blockchain technology offers a new, elegant and secure way for the industry to track and trace myriad components while deterring counterfeiting and improving maintenance capabilities. Used in combination with technologies like digital twins and digital threads, blockchain could ultimately be a game-changing innovation for this sector.”

Gareth Williams, vice president for secure communications and information systems at Thales UK, is also pleased with the deal, adding that blockchain in combination with other modern technologies could help companies and governments build a trusted history behind parts.

“This demonstration builds on the strong relationship Accenture and Thales have created developing innovative digital solutions for a variety of industries,” he added.

According to a recent research report from Accenture, 86 percent of A&D companies expect to integrate blockchain technology into their corporate systems by 2021.

And, unsurprisingly, Accenture wants a piece of that large pie, having been active in the (blockchain) space for quite some time. The company has even filed for a patent of a blockchain system that could be modified at a later date, which — it believes — will have specific use cases.

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