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Blockchain is also the new magic word in logistics when it comes to securely recording and exchanging goods identification and status data along the entire supply chain in order to create a transparent supply chain for all parties involved. The Fraunhofer IPMS in Dresden develops wireless RFID sensor systems for the identification and measurement of states, which can be used in a variety of industries.
Based on this, it offers software solutions that can be extended with blockchain concepts. In a blockchain, data is stored in blocks chronologically, so that they are visible and comprehensible to all participants in the network. The technology allows the actors involved to interact without regulative intermediaries. The necessary trust is created by the data being cryptologically secured and stored not traceable in a central database but distributed among all network participants. Transactions can not be changed afterwards. The blockchain concept, which is known from the cryptocurrency bitcoin, also has great potential for the data management of supply chains in automation and logistics processes in order to accelerate transports, to prevent fraud and errors, and to reduce waste and costs.
RFID technology, more precisely RFID transponders, ie the connection of antenna, identification and sensor technology on a single chip, are suitable for recording relevant parameters in the delivery process. "Our passive RFID sensor transponders measure physical parameters such as humidity, vibration or temperature and transmit them wirelessly to a reader that also provides the energy," explains Dr. med. Andreas Weder, team leader at the Fraunhofer IPMS. "They are small, light, maintenance-free, do not require their own power supply and can therefore be easily integrated into different load carriers." Sensor transponders of the IPMS not only support the already established identification and shipment tracking of goods at a specific time, but also provide information about What happened to raw materials, semi-finished goods and end products as they went through the supply chain. If the data is stored in a block chain, it is reliable and traceable for all participants in the supply chain.
Which sensor is suitable for which application is typically developed as part of a proof of concept in advance. According to Andreas Weder, the environment, carrier material and positioning of the antennas play just as much a role as the design of the RFID sensor ASICs for different frequency ranges and the integration of the data into existing systems. For this purpose, the experts from the Fraunhofer IPMS analyze the application-specific environments of customers in the context of simulations and offer customer evaluation kits for individual testing. The range is rounded off with individual hardware and software solutions to ensure compatibility with existing systems and to analyze and evaluate the large amounts of data required for long-term measurements, depending on requirements.