You most likely already have seen CE marks. Some toys and other manufactured products have a "CE" written somewhere. The CE marking is a key indicator (but not proof) of a product’s compliance with European Union (EU) health, safety and environmental protection directives and regulations. CE marking is necessary to get access to the European market and there are many service providers out there that want to sell their consulting, testing and certification services to help get the CE mark.
It applies to the following products (non-exhaustive list): active implantable medical devices, appliances burning gaseous fuels (gas appliances), cableway installations designed to carry persons, energy related products, electronics and active components, equipment and protective systems intended for use in potentially explosive atmospheres (ATEX equipment), explosives for civil uses, hot-water boilers, household refrigerators and freezers, in vitro diagnostic medical devices, lifts, low voltage equipment (electrical material), machinery, measuring instruments, medical devices, outdoor equipment producing noise, non-automatic weighing instruments, personal protective equipment, pressure equipment, pyrotechnics, radio and telecommunications terminal equipment, recreational craft, toys, and simple pressure vessels.
So let's take two examples, one simple and one more advanced and see how to the blockchain could help and disrupt
- Toys Directive. The Directive has requirements on small pieces that can be eaten by children. Manufacturers and importers need to send the necessary documents to notified bodies that carry out some assessments (more on http://CEmarking.net). They then produce a certificate of conformity. Smart contracts would ensure basic requirements are met before the file gets submitted to the Notified body. Everyone would be able to read the data, ensuring transparency e.g. to stakeholders, while at the same time allowing the company to encrypt data in case the company data is private.
Another advantage of blockchain for CEmarking relates to its disintermediation&distributed properties and global value chains. Production and supply chains nowadays are more and more spanning several countries, including non EU countries. Because blockchains are not centralised e.g. in the EU, decentralised elements of the production and supply chain can contribute to the certification process and put in the blockchain their documents certifying compliance. The blockchain provides then a standard mechanism to exchange certification documents across continents and across elements of the value chain or notified bodies.
The above Toys example is a simple one. Because it is a simple case, it probably can be made generic so that many uncomplicated CEmarking processes are met with the same blockchain. A more interesting case relates to the Directive for the registration of chemical substances. Imported and manufactured products must be registered when put on the market just like above.. but there is a twist, there is a specific principle :
- REACH Directive. This Directive has a principle called One susbtance One registration. For one substance, all related manufacturers and importers need to agree on how to register the susbtance. This means sharing costs such as the testing costs (spectrum analysis) and data. This issue is at the moment a critical issue industry-wise as the number of parties having to agree can amount to thousands. Blockchain would help here because with smart contracts it could ensure that a file is complete and filled by all relevant parties before being submitted. It can enforce a process of agreement. A second point relevant to blockchain is security. Obviously some chemical susbtances are costly to produce and might relate to trade secrets, e.g. you don't want as a business to share all data. The blockchain would help here because it is a strongly secured mechanism.
What do you think of those crazy ideas? :-)