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How Coca-Cola Bottling is putting suppliers on the blockchain

Coca-Cola Bottling is no stranger to looking to the blockchain for supplier transactions. In 2019, the first set of North America Coca-Cola Bottlers adopted a blockchain platform based on Hyperledger Fabric, running on the SAP Blockchain As A Service (BaaS) platform. The project aimed to streamline the relationship between franchised bottling companies to make cross-organisation supply chain transactions frictionless and transparent. It was implemented by the technology partner of the twelve largest Coca-Cola Bottlers in North America, CONA Services (Coke One North America), and proved to increase transparency and efficiency in bottlers’ intricate supply chain.

CONA now wants to extend the use-case from the internal network to a larger audience, and has partnered with Provide, enterprise blockchain thought leaders, and Unibright, a blockchain integration firm. Utilising the Baseline Protocol available on the public Ethereum Mainnet, the goal is to establish a 'Coca-Cola Bottling Harbor', enabling a low-barrier network onboarding process for Coca-Cola Bottling suppliers. This not only streamlines the ability of internal bottlers-suppliers to provide products to the bottling network, but also external suppliers (such as raw materials vendors like cans and bottles) can benefit from an integrated, private, distributed integration network.

Baselining the supply chain

The Baseline Protocol is designed to provide an outstanding technical backbone for achieving the desired solution by:

  • Using the public Ethereum Mainnet as an always-on, pay-per-use frame of reference.
  • Keeping enterprise data in traditional systems of record.
  • Enabling complex, private, interorganisational business process automation.
  • Providing extensibility for decentralised finance (DeFi) and asset tokenisation use-cases.
  • Is openly-governed open source, poised to become an OASIS standard. OASIS is a non-profit consortium supporting open source and open standards.

Issues to overcome

The relationship between buyers and suppliers results in referencing business objects like Request, Proposal, Purchase Order, Delivery, Invoice and Payment. Currently, various coordination and integration challenges appear:

  • Purchase orders may often be subject to undesired changes by the supplier. These changes are not noticed by the buyer until receiving the wrong delivery.
  • Deliveries may be different from the orders due to manual errors on the supplier’s side.
  • Small participants (without an ERP) are prevented from integrating with the ecosystem due to technical and cost barriers.

Project goals 

The project is setting out to prove the following points:

  • How a generalised zero-knowledge circuit can be extended and applied to a standardised business process.
  • How versioning commercial documents (such as purchase orders, sales orders, delivery, and goods receipts, for example) can eliminate coordination problems by ensuring all parties agree to the latest, authoritative versions.
  • How an agreement on the latest baselined version of the “desired truth” can be utilised to negotiate error handling or partial re-deliveries.
  • How an accessible technology stack and ERP integration entry point can be made available for all participants.
  • How application-specific circuits can be established to enforce nuanced business rules such as verifying the validity of a given buyer-supplier relationship.
  • How an invoice can be tokenised within a baseline process.
  • How an existing Hyperledger-based implementation can extend, augment or integrate with the Baseline Protocol.

The project has been launched by CONA, Provide and Unibright and is scheduled to showcase the initial results in Q4 2020.

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