The BMW Group wants to use Blockchain to ensure the traceability of components or raw materials in multi-stage international supply chains. This will also help to check their sustainability.

Blockchain is a fascinating technology. It can be used to clearly and transparently track the origin of a product and its components – without any risk of manipulation. The outstanding feature is the large number of independent computers within the Blockchain that can control each other.

The BMW Group sees great potential in Blockchain technology. This is why the company co-founded the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) two years ago, a cross-industry initiative comprising 120 leading automotive, mobility and technology companies. The shared objective is to help Blockchain technology to break through in the mobility sector.

The technology is a promising solution to ensure that the raw materials and components purchased by the BMW Group from suppliers around the world comply with the company's high quality standards and strict sustainability criteria.

Since the adoption of the BMW Corporate Social Responsibility strategy almost ten years ago, social and environmental commitment has been an integral part of the company's philosophy. This applies not only to the BMW Group, but also to its suppliers at around 4,500 tier 1 production sites in 50 countries. And of course also to their suppliers.

The automotive industry’s international supply chains are highly complex due to numerous players at different delivery stages. For the BMW Group’s purchasing experts and its suppliers, ensuring transparency therefore involved considerable manual effort.

And this is where Blockchain comes into play. The BMW Group initiated the PartChain project to ensure seamless traceability of components – more or less “at the push of a button” – and provide immediate data transparency in complex supply chains for all partners involved. “PartChain enables tamper-proof and consistently verifiable collection and transaction of data in our supply chain,” says Andreas Wendt, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG for Purchasing and Supplier Network. Last year, the pilot project focused solely on part tracking. In the long term, however, the BMW Group also expects the project to enable complete traceability of critical raw materials – all the way from mine to smelter. Wendt: “Our vision is to create an open platform that will allow data within supply chains to be exchanged and shared safely and anonymised across the industry.”

The 2019 pilot project already involved two of the BMW Group’s total 31 plants (Spartanburg/US and Dingolfing in Germany), as well as three locations of the supplier Automotive Lighting. This year, the platform will be rolled out to numerous other suppliers.