A Multichain Architecture for Distributed Supply Chain Design in Industry 4.0
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is centered around a self-organized production. Cyber-physical systems can be used to collect and share data for tracking, automation, and control as well as evaluation and documentation. This has a wide-reaching impact on business models. Instead of a linear approach, concentrating on a single company, the focus needs to be on the complete production ecosystem represented by a dynamic and self-organized network, including the supply chain. The interconnectedness of the cyber-physical systems in these networks is rooted in the Internet of Things, but also shared business processes. Performance, stability, security as well as data integrity and access control hereby represent a major contributing factor, calling for a new concept of information processing systems. The blockchain is a distributed ledger combining cryptographic and game-theoretic concepts, which enable immutable transactions and automatic consensus of the parties involved about its state. Blockchains have evolved as a fast-developing technology, promising increased efficiency and security in many scenarios, especially use cases that primarily rely on all kinds of transactions. The paper follows a design science approach, examining the implications of blockchain and the industrial Internet of Things in Industry 4.0 (I40) on supply chain management. I40s implications on supply chains are discussed and connected with favorable characteristics of blockchain technology. Based on this analysis, requirements for a decentralized enterprise information processing system are derived, resulting in a reference model for distributed supply chains of I40.