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BMW Puts Its Multi-stage International Supply Chains On Blockchain

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Luxury carmaker BMW AG is using blockchain technology to optimize processes in its highly complex multi-stage international supply chains. It is using this technology in purchasing to ensure the traceability of components and raw materials. It will roll out the platform to about ten suppliers later in the year.

The international supply chains generally involve numerous players at different delivery stages and often undergo rapid changes. It needs a considerable effort to clearly track a component's origin or supply route in the manual process, while ensuring transparency between purchasing experts and its suppliers.

The BMW Group initiated the blockchain-powered PartChain project to ensure seamless traceability of components more or less at the push of a button. PartChain enables tamper-proof data sharing and consistently verifiable collection and transaction of data within potential applications throughout the entire automotive value chain.

BMW conducted a successful pilot project for purchasing front lights in 2019, focusing solely on part tracking. The 2019 pilot project involved two of the BMW's total 31 plants, Spartanburg in the U.S. and Dingolfing in Germany, as well as three locations of the supplier Automotive Lighting.

PartChain uses Cloud technologies such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, in addition to Blockchain solutions. This allows the origin of components to be tracked between all participating partners without any risk of manipulation.

In the long term, the BMW Group also expects the project to enable complete traceability of critical raw materials all the way from mine to smelter.

BMW Group is not new to blockchain technology. It co-founded the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) in 2018. It is an industry-wide solution to enable all partners participating to link their business processes more closely and coordinate between companies.

The cross-industry initiative comprises 120 leading automotive, mobility and technology companies including GM, Ford, Daimler Benz, BMW, Renault, VW, IBM, Accenture, Consensys, IOTA, and Hyperledger. BMW Group also wants to share its PartChain approach with the initiative and invite interested companies to join the initiative.

The BMW Group manufactures four brands - BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad. Its production network comprises 31 production and assembly facilities across 15 countries.

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