Experts have long touted blockchain technology as a potential one size fits all solution for several supply chain problems mainly in the areas of transparency and traceability. The lack of efficient solutions in these key areas creates secondary problems causing friction which weakens supply chain links. Many companies are now attempting to fill in this gap by providing custom blockchain solutions that can augment supply chain processes while streamlining inventory management.
Capitalizing on the “blockchain rush” and the need for efficient supply chain solutions, Hyperledger, a Linux Foundation blockchain project has now launched a new platform known as Hyperledger Grid, which will help facilitate the development of ledger-based solutions capable of handling any cross-industry scenario.
What is Hyperledger Grid?
Hyperledger Grid is an ecosystem of libraries, frameworks, and technologies that are working together to enable application developers to select the most suitable components for solving various supply chain problems within specific industries or markets. Hyperledger recognizes the fact that shared and reusable tools would be invaluable to the growing number of initiatives focused on developing supply chain solutions. Therefore, Hyperledger Grid will serve as a facilitator for these application developers, allowing for the creation of niche-specific supply chain solutions. Hyperledger Grid isn’t exactly a blockchain project, but it was created to serve as a framework that will facilitate the development of blockchain solutions capable of advancing supply chain management.
According to a blog post by Hyperledger, Grid aims to:
– Provide reference implementations of supply chain-centric data types, data models, and smart contract based business logic – all anchored on existing, open standards and industry best practices.
– Showcase in authentic and practical ways how to combine components from the Hyperledger stack into a single, effective business solution.
Hyperledger has developed three blockchain protocols namely, Fabric, Sawtooth and Iroha. By design, these projects are flexible and agnostic, but they cannot speak the true language of any business neither do they offer adequate data storage options. Seeing as market models and enterprise business systems have matured over the years due to the use of common standards in conducting electronic transactions, Grid will serve as a platform for the implementation of these standards and norms by permitting the integration of multiple technologies such as identity providers, smart contracts, and blockchains.
The Sabre Link
Hyperledger will leverage its on-chain smart contract engine dubbed “Sawtooth Sabre”, to serve as a bridge linking conventional enterprise systems with emerging technologies. According to the published blog post:
“The initial linkage between Grid and other elements in the stack will be via Sabre, a WebAssembly (WASM) Smart Contract engine. By adopting this approach, Grid asserts the strategic importance of WASM and provides a clear interface for integration with platforms inside and outside of Hyperledger. It is our hope and expectation that WASM and Sabre become a de facto Hyperledger standard.”
What’s Next for Hyperledger Grid?
Hyperledger Grid is currently focused on implementing GS1/GTIN standards. However, as time goes on, other standards may be implemented as well. This may include nuanced industry models or other models being built by the Open Data Initiative. As indicated on its roadmap, Grid is concentrating its efforts on products, identity, location, and certification.
Hyperledger Grid is also looking to provide implementations for supply chain scenarios that occur while conducting basic transactions.
Such scenarios include asset transformation / refinement, asset exchange, and asset tracking.
The Hyperledger team is also working on applications for demonstrating the viability of these models.
Several organizations helped bring Hyperledger Grid to reality, including Cargill, Intel and Bitwise IO which served as primary contributors for the initiative, and it is expected that many other organizations will endorse or sponsor the project in the near future.
Explaining why many companies are getting involved in the Grid project, Cargill Vice President, Keith Narr had this to say:
“Hyperledger Grid is another way to help make food and agricultural supply chains more inclusive – creating new markets for farmers and developing economies. With our wide set of food and agricultural supply chain data, Cargill is leading the industry to work together and improve traceability, trade, food safety, nutrition, farmer livelihoods and more. Hyperledger Grid provides an ecosystem of reusable, open-source digital tools that developers can work with to build products, prototypes, and applications that address supply-chain use cases, including traceability, food safety, trade settlement and more.”