Though widely used to secure digital currencies like Bitcoin, blockchain’s distributed ledger technology has the potential to be applied in a number of industrial manufacturing operations, ranging from supply chains to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
To help industrial companies better grasp the use of blockchain for IIoT applications, the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) has released its “Implementation Aspect: IIoT and Blockchain” whitepaper. According to the IIC, the white paper presents three design patterns manufacturers can use to manage the distribution and ownership of data in a blockchain-based Industrial IoT (IIoT) system. Those patterns are: platform-controlled blockchain, asset-controlled blockchain, and smart contract enhancements for both platform and asset-controlled blockchain.
The aim of this whitepaper is to provide guidance around applying blockchain technology for device monitoring to log SLA (service level agreement) violations, edge autonomy to log fault protocols, and IIoT services such as odometer fraud protection. The whitepaper also explains how to use blockchain to address many of the problems faced by industrial users during the lifecycle of IIoT-enabled assets, such as provisioning, usage tracing, and asset decommissioning.
In addition to explaining blockchain applications for IIoT use, the IIC says its guidance also addresses scalability and performance for proper development of IIoT blockchain applications.
“Blockchain wallets contain the public and private key pair you need to create and access user data in the blockchain,” said Daniel Burkhardt, IIC German regional team lead and doctoral student at the Ferdinand-Steinbeis-Institute. “Key questions designers need to ask include, ‘How can we manage the wallet of each user and who owns and controls these wallets.’
Designers also need to consider the system’s performance and trustworthiness aspects as well as network reliability, bandwidth, and latency, in addition to usage attributes, Burkhardt added.
Using the patterns described in the white paper, blockchain application architects can “evaluate the trustworthiness of an IIoT solution based on each pattern,” Burkhardt said.