Ford and IBM Team Up to Track Cobalt Supply with Blockchain

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Cobalt is a vital element in electrical components, with Ford using it in its lithium-ion batteries. Unfortunately, there is a lot of scrutiny surrounding the supply chain of Cobalt, mainly due to the fact the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has the world’s largest deposits. Given war and child labor problems in the region, Ford has come under fire for using irresponsibly-sourced cobalt and is on a quest to prove it only uses responsibly-sourced cobalt in its equipment.
To pull of this feat of supply chain management, Ford has enlisted the help of tech giant IBM to help develop a blockchain solution that can handle the process for Ford. LG Chem and Huayou Cobalt have also joined forces with IBM to make the project possible and to create a provable responsibly-sourced supply of cobalt to the world.

Keeping Supply Chains Clean

The main issue facing Ford and cobalt mining firms is the fact that tainted cobalt can enter the supply chain at any number of steps. By using blockchain technology, Ford and co are hoping to remove any chances of this happening and keep their supplies clean and legitimate. De Beers – one of the world’s largest diamond mining and supply outfits – is doing a similar thing with its diamonds. By putting its diamonds on a blockchain, end consumers can verify the authenticity of their diamonds and the fact they aren’t “conflict diamonds”.

Protecting Consumers

Blockchain technology is revolutionizing the supply chain industry and is now saving more lives than ever thought possible. Walmart has created a blockchain supply management system to track lettuce. After an outbreak of E. coli in its lettuce supply in 2018, Walmart wants to be able to track and eradicate infected batches of lettuce before consumers feel the consequences.

A Trial to Test the Waters

This project to track cobalt using blockchain technology is only a pilot scheme for now and will run until mid-2019. It was launched back in December to test the waters to see if blockchain provides the perfect solution for the group of companies. If they are satisfied, the pilot will be deemed successful and it will become a permanent feature.
Blockchain technology is solving numerous problems that currently exist in the supply chain process, and its potential is really only just being discovered. Given its potential, blockchain technology will soon be removing goods that use child labor from the market entirely, ensuring that what reaches shelves is ethically clean.