Immutable supply chain and component-lifecycle documentation on IOTA
The full article was originally published by Christian Sambolz on Medium. Read the full article here.
Referring to my previous article “Industry & NDE 4.0 — The benefits from DLT and the IOTA protocol” – where I explained some basic terms like industry / NDT 4.0 / DLT or digital twins – this time i would like to show you the possibilities of using IOTA as a tamper-proof base layer of a supply chain & the whole life cycle of a safety-relevant component.
If we look at the current state of prevailing documentation of conditions regarding those components, we will find out that when it comes to proving the authenticity of documents, nothing happens without paper and original signatures & stamps.
For example, a plant operator orders a new valve from his supplier that has to withstand very high pressures, he has to take a lot of requirements into account when procuring it. Only then the authorities will approve the installation or operation and issue a startup permit. Depending on the complexity, this can result in a lot of paperwork.
At the end of the day, the technical purchaser and the supervisor on site have to deal with this quantity and get an idea of whether the above-mentioned requirements have been fulfilled. Currently there is one big issue: You have to be able to verify the authenticity of the documents beyond any doubt. How often has it happened in the past that material or test records have been falsified somewhere along the supply chain.
The main problems that remain unsolved to this day are:
- Authenticity: The authorized inspector must form a overall picture of the requirements and authenticity based only on documents at hand. In doing so, he pays attention to coherent correlations in testing records, but also to original signatures compared with specimen signatures on other documents, original inspection stamps and so on. Time-consuming queries or even audits of the creators of the documents may be necessary.
- Availability: Sometimes, however, audits or inquiries are no longer possible because the creators are no longer available for some reason at a later review date. Another reason can be large distances that make traceability difficult (globalization)
- Traceability: Since NDT tests often have to be performed by certified personnel, the personnel certifications according to e.g. ISO 9712 / ASME must also be kept with the test reports. This is the only way for an inspector to determine whether the tester was also certified at the time of the examination and thus capable of performing the test. Once some time has passed here as well, there can no longer be any proof of this other than a signed sheet of paper.
The involved parties may have trusted each other at some point and trustworthy documents may have found their way into the overall documentation, but at a later stage it may become very difficult or impossible to get back to a trustworthy level.
Case study: NDT test record, signatories and personnel certificates
Just to give you an idea of how many participants just one piece of paper can require and how much other documentation can be hidden behind it, i will try to explain it on the basis of a common practice. Below you can find a test report of a repaired item from a power plant.
As you can see, several entities have to sign this NDT test report, such as…