A US manufacturer has adopted blockchain technology to underpin the personal protective equipment (PPE) supply chain and ensure full traceability of medical-grade face masks and other items.

The use of blockchain is the result of a partnership between the unnamed manufacturer and HashCash Consultants, a software company specialising in blockchain solutions, and will enable PPE products to be fully traceable throughout the supply chain, as well as streamlining their production and supply.

The move comes after a spate of issues surrounding poor quality and scam PPE entering the supply chain, as organisations around the world scramble to meet the surge in demand that the coronavirus pandemic has produced. Most recently, the UK came under fire for paying £156m for a batch of PPE that proved to be ineffective at protecting healthcare workers, making it useless to the NHS.

It is thought that blockchain will be able to assist with the problem, by making it possible to view extensive details of each item’s manufacture, including where it was made and who by, along with information about where it has been transferred to and stored.

Blockchain: Underpinning future PPE supply chain resiliency

Blockchain is being considered as an option to sure-up the PPE supply chain to make it more resilient to future pandemics and other incidents that cause a surge in demand.

“If the last few months have taught us anything, it is that the existing chain of protocol and systems are not well-equipped to meet the needs of an emergency,” said Raj Chowdhury, CEO, HashCash Consultants.

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“While we try to rise above the present situation, it is a priority to create new protocols and infrastructures that will allow us to mitigate future adversities. To that effect, HashCash has teamed up with the enterprise to build and deploy advanced and futuristic architectures to streamline the supply of essential commodities, in this case, PPE.”

This latest use of blockchain follows a host of other industries using the technology to improve traceability in the supply chain. Others include high-value minerals for the mining industry, beef for the meat industry and drugs in the pharmaceutical industry.

Read more: Blockchain harnessed to track the spread of coronavirus