Article

‘Chaining’ the warehouse

WAREHOUSING

By using the body as a metaphor, we can analogise a warehouse as the heart and inventory as the blood within a business’s supply chain network.


A warehouse provides a constant flow of inventory to ensure the demands of consumers are adequately met on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. However, just as our hearts are susceptible to clogged arteries, arrhythmias and other congenital defects which need medical intervention, similarly warehouses are also prone to issues such as inaccurate inventory, redundant processes and lack of visibility that need some form of managerial or process intervention. The common theme or intervention that has been advancing the field of medicine and supply chain management is the adoption of ‘innovative technologies’.

One of these emerging innovative technologies within the field of supply chain management and logistics is blockchain technology. By the end of 2017, blockchain technology became a mainstream buzzword used in social and corporate settings.

This is mostly attributed to the incredible rise (and subsequent fall) of Bitcoin as an alternative payment currency. However, there are still many individuals and businesses that do not fully understand the potential blockchain technology holds, especially its role in the supply chain and the digitalisation of warehousing processes and functions.

According to Seebacher and Schüritz, blockchain technology can be defined as “a distributed database, which is shared among and agreed upon a peer-to-peer network. It consists of a linked sequence of blocks (a storage unit of a transaction), holding time-stamped transactions that are secured by public-key cryptography (i.e. hash) and verified by the network community. Once an element is appended to the blockchain, it cannot be altered, turning a blockchain into an immutable record of past activity.”

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Written by: Arno Meyer, CSCP, arno.meyer@up.ac.za
Date: 01 May 2020

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