Track: Sustainability in Supply Chain, Enterprise Operations and Strategies
Manufacturers are facing tremendous pressure from the complexity of the global business environment that demands the integrated system approach to address the improvement of quality, safety, environment, cost reduction and sustain competitive advantage. This challenges the supply chain management systems to create an integrated partnerships linkage that ensures transparency, materials provenance, counterfeit detection, asset tracking, quality assurance, and the regulatory compliance and traceability of the flow of goods and services to the entire value chain. However, it is also imperative that manufacturers observe the second force that is complicating the global business environment in the form of the fourth industrial revolution. On the one hand, some manufacturers have taken advantage to flourish and build sustainable competitive advantage and human capital for sustainability, whilst, on the other hand, some are still reluctant to adopt these new technologies. These technologies create new business models that address some of the challenges. This paper explores the applications of blockchain technology for sustainable supply chain management systems with the belief that it could address the challenges that are facing the manufacturing industry. The supply chain management systems should be viewed as three components, namely, the strategic component, the tactical component, and the operational component. Therefore, an intervention requires the ability to trace the root cause(s) to ensure that technology-based solutions are tested through the three main components for usability. A systematic review was used for this paper to explore the applications of blockchain technology for sustainable supply chain management systems. This article advocates for the application of blockchain on the basis that this technology is “the factory of the future” with the capability of creating transparency and traceability through all phases of the value chain from sourcing materials to final production. Additionally, it increases the more seamless auditing and compliance functionality, reduces costs, and creates a reliable ecosystem shipment process to prevent shipping fraud. It should be conceded that there are technical challenges that cannot be overlooked, hence the evidence still suggests that there is a reluctance to adopt blockchain, which is making the industry lag behind. Yet the consensus is that these technical issues are resolvable. It is envisaged that manufacturers will transition from their traditional ways of doing things to the fourth industrial revolution, to be innovative, restructure, relearn, and adapt. The turbulent business environment demands innovation and change management as a source of growth and competitive advantage. It is imperative to explore the effects of blockchain technology to establish effective strategies for adoption and implementation.