Supply chain success:

digital twins and a byte of blockchain

In a way, the entire lifecycle of an industrial facility is linked to the supply chain as suppliers and distributors of materials, information, and capital connect from upstream to downstream. The traceable points of contact along the way are captured in data – and tapping into these data sources can reveal a lot about how efficiently a facility’s supply chain operates. How can we leverage digital twins and smart contract technology to maximize the utilization of data points and optimize supply chain efficiency?

  • Text:Haavard Oestensen

Streamline touchless transactions with digitalization

The supply chain is full of traceable events that can be digitalized. For example, sensors connected to equipment can send out status notifications and automatically notify service providers about maintenance requirements. Through smart contracts, suppliers and service providers can be connected in a B2B network that covers plant operations, and trigger points can be written in to signify events and record data such as restocking, vendor information, gate access data, and ticket information.

Any maintenance work or service done on-site can be recorded digitally, with charges to be approved against smart contracts if they are within tolerance using the consensus method in the blockchain. Then these charges can go straight to payment, with smart contracts also handling the invoicing process and beyond. And just like that, you’ve unlocked touchless transactions across operations.

Reimagine the way supply chain data is handled

Your service contracts aren’t being replaced. Rather, digital twin technology and smart contracts are used to codify supply chain contracts, identify trigger events, store transactional data, and automate processes like costing.

This digitalization of data with next-generation technology primes your supply chain for efficiency. That’s exactly why we’ve partnered our digital twin technology with Data Gumbo, a leading smart contract network provider. Our industrial work surface Kognitwin feeds contextualized asset data through blockchain-verified smart contracts to deal with end-to-end supply chain transactions – without you lifting a finger.

Data democratization and validated transactions

Kognitwin builds a completely virtual and dynamic digital twin of your assets that helps democratize data by extending the flow of information across operations. It provides a real-time feed of asset data that is extracted, consolidated, and contextualized to the highest degree of accuracy possible.

Data Gumbo’s technology is then applied to connect transparent data sources to smart contracts, which contain rules with verification parameters that indicate successful transactions. In a nutshell, supply chain data is passed along and validated against rules set up in the relevant smart contract to trigger certain processes such as invoicing and payments, without requiring intervention from a third party.


Digital trails for transactions

In such a data-rich environment, there will always be data records across the supply chain that don’t align. So, what happens when a ticket doesn’t line up with the volume that the plant data says it has received? When supply chain operations are digitalized, smart contracts can notify users that recorded data should be verified against the actual volume consumed. Now the problem can be dealt with at the origin since transactions are flagged for disparities and can only be resolved within the smart contract rules for the process. There’s a direct ‘paper’ trail to identify things like issues with tickets, faulty flow sensors, invoicing, and the like. When the smart contract can’t be validated, you can see exactly where things went wrong – and how they were fixed.


Secure storage and verification on the blockchain

All these data records and smart contract transactions are verified and stored on the blockchain. It’s important not to confuse blockchain with Bitcoin, though.

We’re not talking about cryptocurrency here – we’re talking about secure storage in the cloud for the auditable transfer of data and transactions.

Think of it as a digital ledger for your network of operations, with an important element of security and transparency since blocks can’t be manipulated once they are established.


Direct value

The combination of IT, OT, and ET into Kognitwin’s single-interface work surface backed by smart contracts and blockchain integrates the network of operators and suppliers into a robust and reliable eco-system for your supply chain management.

That means:

  • Openly available real-time data that has undergone a verification process for correctness
  • Increased transaction speeds and minimized efforts by limiting manual inputs
  • Automated audit trails of any supply chain transactions, right from operations through to financials
  • Reduced errors in data and operations across the supply chain, even with remote working
  • Immediate feedback on performance for faster ROI and reduced operating costs
  • Accurate reporting for the commercial and financial performance of contracts in addition to operational characteristics
  • Seamless integrations, dynamic modelling, and analytics driven by sophisticated AI and hybrid machine learning


Dealing with dynamic data

How can you be assured that the dynamic data across your supply chain is handled correctly? Kognitwin establishes a reconstructed foundational layer of your digital twin that is primed with accurate data and measurements, both predicted and synthetic. Drive this data into core processes for asset management, facility operations, and remote working – and you have the perfect tool for visualization and contextualization of present and future assets, with rich data creating higher trustworthy digital contracts.

Kognitwin deals with anything from readings and source data to measurements of products from scales or flow meters and maintenance records. Any plant operation or supply chain event can be traced, with increased data quality and the implementation of synthetic data where necessary.


Up next: ESG efficiency

In addition to making the supply chain smarter, Kognitwin and Data Gumbo’s team-up makes the topic of ESG more feasible. Information provided by the digital twin such as operations, supply chain transactions, maintenance, power supply agreements, and greenhouse gas emissions can be used to process data collection and automate the issuing of important documents like emissions reports and work certificates. You can read more about that here.

Haavard Oestensen is the Vice President of Growth with Kongsberg Digital and heads our resident Houston team in Texas, USA. He has more than 15 years of experience in the LNG and upstream industry, combined with deep domain knowledge in technology, systems integration, and management.