International / 6 May 2018, 5:00pm / Reuters INTERNATIONAL – Aerospace suppliers are starting to explore blockchain technology to keep tabs on their supply chain, potentially tracking parts such as those identified as the cause of a Southwest Airlines accident last month. While blockchain is best known as the digital transactions technology that underpins cryptocurrency bitcoin, it can also be harnessed to track, record and transfer assets across all manner of industries, potentially smoothing operations, cutting costs and improving cash management.

The challenge faced by the aerospace industry in keeping track of tens of thousands of different parts came to light when it emerged after last month’s fatal explosion that some airlines do not keep track of the history of each individual fan blade within an engine. In addition to the operational and cost benefits, improved parts management could speed up safety checks after an accident, industry experts said, and an increasing number of aerospace suppliers are looking at blockchain as a potential solution.

Blockchain offers a secured encrypted audit trail because there is only one version of the data, meaning it can be used to ensure traceability without reams of paperwork. It is already being used to track cobalt on its journey from Congo mines to smartphones, for example.

Moog, a U.S. manufacturer of flight control systems, is working with partners to create a blockchain-based solution called VeriPart, which will initially be used to track 3D printed components. Moog’s technology chief George Small said the aerospace industry, like other highly regulated sectors such as the medical and nuclear power industries, was expending considerable effort on tracking parts across the supply chain to keep up with quality and regulatory demands.

Small said the use of blockchain could increase efficiency and transparency in the sharing of data and that customer feedback has been positive so far. Though VeriPart is still in development, Moog has already had talks with customers on other potential uses for the technology. Read more from iol.co.za…

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