Walmart blockchain technology

Mar 26, 2 min read. Kent Weare. On March 1st, the United States Patent and Trademark Office USPTO released a patent application by Walmart that describes a "Smart Package" system built upon blockchain technology to aid in the tracking of packages between sellers, couriers and buyers. The patent also has references to autonomous vehicle systems and IoT sensors. The application was originally submitted on August 24th, and targets many of the uncertainties that exist today when delivering packages to customers:. Managing a packages environment when it goes from distribution or fulfillment center to the customer's home has been a challenge.

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WATCH RELATED VIDEO: How Walmart Canada \u0026 DLT Labs used Blockchain Technology to Reimagine Invoice Processing

Walmart Delves Into Blockchain Technology Patents

And Yiannas is right. Chinese take their food safety seriously. The pilot was successful enough to trigger a second trial, this time with mangoes in central America, which was successful as well. The Beijing center, the first of its kind for Walmart, opened in If Walmart is successful, the project could fundamentally alter the way information is secured, stored, and shared across the food and retail industry, ushering in an era where an item of produce can be tracked in real-time from farm to table, by producers and consumers.

Retailers and food suppliers can spend millions of man-hours a year on food traceability, says Yiannas. Food supply chains are complex affairs that have only become more intricate over the last decades. They may then be distributing to multiple different packagers, who eventually package it for different brands.

And then another set of logistics is going on, and eventually it gets to a store. In January , a listeria contamination caused at least one death and dozens of hospitalizations in the US. This came 10 years after an e. The first cases of the e. Rogers and Yiannas are betting on blockchains to do this. That principle has been seized on by other industries, from finance to shipping, as a way to solve coordination and issues of trust globally.

There are trials from the shipping line Maersk and work by Chinese e-commerce giant JD. Fellow e-commerce giant Alibaba has announced plans to do something similar, but with beef products from Australia.

At this stage, some explanation of what exactly a blockchain is is in order. First of all, there is no single, monolithic blockchain. Different cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin or ethereum, have separate blockchains. In the case of a cryptocurrency like bitcoin, it might be helpful to think of a blockchain as a byproduct of bitcoin transactions.

How does this happen? Each bitcoin transaction is recorded in a ledger—its blockchain—that is shared among all the computers that make up the bitcoin network globally. Since bitcoin was created nine years ago by the still-anonymous Satoshi Nakamoto as a tool to side-step banks and state-issued money, it has increasingly been embraced by the very institutions it was designed to disrupt. The idea is to reverse engineer a blockchain and extract the best features while leaving the rest behind for the anarchists and libertarians of the bitcoin world.

The challenge is this: How do you create a blockchain without the speculation and mania linked to bitcoin? That might be streamlining supply chains, automating banking back-room operations , or tracking diamonds. The reason corporations think a blockchain could solve their supply chain problems can be summed up in one word: trust.

In the same way, corporate blockchains would allow a vast network—from farmers to trucking companies to warehouse staff—to trust that a product has passed through a link in the chain and been processed in a particular way. Blockchains for corporations have another critical property: greater privacy. When corporations first began to explore blockchain technology, they were keen to build in a layer of privacy over transaction data.

There, I met with the team of research scientists and executives who worked with Walmart to develop a blockchain solution based on the open-source Hyperledger codebase. It emits a laser to scan barcodes rapidly. The farm is operated by a company called Jin Luo, and this particular farm is located in Lingyi city in northeastern China.

The other key link in this process are the drivers. They are charged with not only transporting the product, but bringing along the necessary documentation for each batch of products.

With the blockchain pilot, they were asked to take photographs of the various certificates as they transported them from place to place, where they would be stamped.

This verified that the products were moving along the supply chain. Digitized documents stored on a blockchain and linked to a particular batch of products removes that pain point, he said. As the pork products wend their way to a Walmart distribution center, and ultimately, the shelves of a Walmart store, they have passed through dozens of hands.

But the blockchain pilot allowed the progress of each batch of products leaving the farm to be tracked, in real-time, across the country. Once the products reach individual stores, they are repackaged and distributed across the shop floor. After the Chinese pork pilot, Walmart ran a larger scale test tracking mangoes from central America. They are then stored in refrigerated warehouses, and eventually end up at a Walmart supplier where they are sliced and packaged.

Current rules for food traceability require a retailer to be able to see one step forward and one step back in the chain. Yiannas decided to put his team, and the blockchain they had built, to the test.

He bought a packet of sliced mangoes and brought it to the office. After numerous phone calls, faxes, and emails, the results were in—six days, 18 hours, and 26 minutes later. He then did a live demonstration of the blockchain system in front of the media, tracing the same packet of sliced mangoes. This is the real world. Every second matters, Yiannis says, because in a real food contamination situation, it could mean the difference between many more sick consumers, and farmers being forced to stop supplying their produce for fear they were the source of the contamination.

The food industry has been working on this. Valdes says he advises most clients against using a blockchain in their technology system. When it comes to supply chains, Valdes believes that blockchains could play an important coordinating role.

Optimistically, he says, it would take a decade for the industry to rearrange itself so that everyone was logging interactions on a blockchain. It can simply ask its vendors to use whatever system it chooses. He told me about his quest for the perfect food traceability system. Blockchains, because they are designed for collaboration, could change all that, and not just for the Walmarts, Unilevers, and IBMs of the world.

Why Is Walmart Filing Blockchain Patents?

Health officials, who are looking at how to apply blockchain technology to public health issues, consulted with Walmart on improving food supply traceability. After hundreds of people in the US became ill after eating contaminated romaine lettuce earlier this year, Walmart, along with many other food retailers and restaurants, pulled the potentially tainted produce from their shelves after regulators issued a warning. The company says the outbreak could have been stemmed sooner if there were a faster and easier way to trace what people had eaten. Walmart thinks blockchain technology could be the solution. The big-box company worked for more than a year with IBM and 11 food companies to develop a blockchain-enabled food traceability network.

The blockchain technology allows Walmart and its customers to track the exact geo-location of a food product by scanning the barcodes. If any.

Adoption of Blockchain Technology: A Case Study of Walmart

If you need to make copies, you MUST purchase the corresponding number of permissions, and you must own a single copy of the product. Electronic Downloads are available immediately after purchase. Unauthorized distribution of these files is prohibited pursuant to term of use of this website. This product has a teaching note available. Available only to Registered Educators. Please login to view it. Blockchain is a digital, distributed, immutable ledger designed to build trust among parties without requiring an independent, third-party arbitrator or intermediary. The technology has potential to improve a variety of industries, including the complex, fragmented, analog food supply chain.

Walmart launches ‘world’s largest’ blockchain-based freight-and-payment network

walmart blockchain technology

The announcement was made by Tuesday 22 August by IBM, which insists that blockchain - an open source digital ledger that facilitates secure online transactions - can help improve food traceability by providing trusted information on the origin and state of food. It is estimated that , people die each year due to contaminated food. Weeks can pass before the precise point of contamination is identified, resulting in further illness, lost revenue and wasted products. IBM claims the new joint programme could enable all participants in the supply chain, including growers, suppliers, retailers and consumers, to quickly trace a contaminated product to its source and stem the spread of illnesses. IBM has introduced its own blockchain platform which allows multiple parties to jointly develop, govern, operate and secure networks.

Global retail giant Walmart hosted a presentation on its work with blockchain during an annual investor event last week. The company began working with IBM and Tsinghua University of Beijing last year to test blockchain-based supply chain applications , with a particular focus on China's massive pork market.

Walmart Files Patent for Blockchain-Based Delivery System

Blockchain technology has emerged as something beyond a buzzword. Almost every brand and industry has started embracing the idea of incorporating it into their traditional processes and reap better benefits — with Walmart being no exception. Walmart , the popular multinational retail company, is using Blockchain to change the landscape of the food industry, especially in terms of better traceability. Also, it has partnered with IBM to introduce two proof-of-concept PoC projects to bring out better opportunities in the food business vertical. Whereas, the second one is concerned with tracing pork meat that is traded in the Chinese outlets of the company. This platform enables customers to get comprehensive details of the products — right from its source to logistics processes, and inspection rounds — with a mere scan of the product.

Walmart’s Blockchain Quest: Integrating New Technology into a Complex Supply Chain

Grocery giants Walmart and Sam's Club are requiring their lettuce suppliers to get on the blockchain bandwagon. Those providing leafy green vegetables to the grocery chains will need to upload data about their foods to blockchain within a year, the companies said in letters to suppliers Monday. The companies highlighted an E. Using blockchain and storing the information digitally, a supplier could theoretically see which farms are infected and quickly stop the supply to restaurants and consumers. Even when Walmart has been able to determine affected areas and get the foods out of grocery stores, it said, millions of heads of romaine lettuce had to be removed from the marketplace, and consumers lost confidence regardless of the region it was grown in. With blockchain, all fresh leafy greens suppliers are expected to be able to trace their products back to farms "in seconds — not days," Walmart said in a letter to suppliers. Direct suppliers will be required to conform to Walmart's standards and "enable end-to-end traceability" back to farms by Sept.

The Blockchain Center of Excellence would like to announce its first and compare blockchain technology to alternative technologies that.

How Walmart Canada Uses Blockchain to Solve Supply-Chain Challenges

Most supply chains are bogged down in manual processes. This makes it difficult and time consuming to track down an issue should one like the E. By placing a supply chain on the blockchain, it makes the process more traceable, transparent and fully digital.

Walmart plans to use blockchain to track lettuce

RELATED VIDEO: Walmart Embraces Blockchain Technology

Supply chain traceability is often a time-consuming and costly challenge for food producers. Consumer trust and brand protection are integral to this process where retailers would rather be safe than sorry. Blockchain is most notably known as the underlying technology of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, but its distributed ledger system that records a history of business transactions has several use cases for supply chain traceability. A block is added each time that a member of a blockchain records a transaction—a record that only others in the chain can read, but no one can alter.

Coli outbreak in romaine lettuce from Yuma, Arizona.

Walmart implementing blockchain

Tracking the route, authentication, and safety confirmation of each product is a challenging task, but blockchain technology can offer a solution. Blockchain has been powering multiple spheres for years, and the food industry is no exception. Consumers want to know where their meals come from, and retailers must be able to control the supply chain and immediately detect counterfeits or foods that can cause foodborne illnesses. In the case of a foodborne disease outbreak, the situation gets extremely dangerous for everyone; food suppliers and retailers encounter lawsuits, loss of customers and revenue, and for ordinary buyers, things can end with major health problems or even fatal outcomes. Blockchain technologies come to the rescue. While many are still learning about blockchain implementation, American retail giant Walmart became a pioneer in introducing blockchain to improve its food safety practices. Walmart is an American multinational retail corporation that runs a chain of hypermarkets, grocery stores, and discount department stores.

Admittedly, I am not a technologist. I study the food industry, and I see a wide array of possibilities for blockchain technology to improve food supply chains. As in any broad technological pervasion, blockchain value will grow with compelling use cases, which will take time. That said, if you are a food professional or looking to enter the industry, you would do well to keep your eye on its evolution.

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