Blockchain used to source PPE as buyers 'scrambled' to find suppliers

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
10 July 2020

IBM launched a blockchain-based network at no cost to help organisations in North America source personal protective equipment (PPE).

In its 2019 CSR report, the company said the coronavirus pandemic sent hospitals and government agencies “scrambling” to find PPE and they needed to validate suppliers quickly.

In response IBM created Rapid Supplier Connect, which has been taken up by participants including Northwell Health, New York’s largest healthcare provider, and The Worldwide Supply Chain Federation, a multidisciplinary industry coalition focused on supply chain innovation and technology.

“Buyers need to assess the credibility of new suppliers quickly, and simplify the process of locating essential items,” said IBM.

“The system features a streamlined onboarding process, validation checks and inventory information in nearly real time.”

Phyllis McCready, CPO at Northwell Health, said: “Creating our own group purchasing organisations and supply chain, and reaching nontraditional suppliers, enabled us to maintain an adequate stockpile of personal protective equipment and other supplies, so we are pleased to join IBM Rapid Supplier Connect.”

IBM said the network, launched in April, would be available at no cost in the US and Canada through August.

In the report IBM said its blockchain technology was piloted to trace cobalt from mine to market for the production of batteries for electric vehicles and it planned to add the minerals tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold to the system in 2020.

IBM said it also updated its Responsible Minerals Policy in 2019, including a collaboration with in-scope hardware suppliers to “source exclusively from responsible and ethical smelters or refiners”.

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