Exhibition of Volvo cars
Exhibition of Volvo cars. Automotive News

The Responsible Sourcing Blockchain Network (RSBN) reported that its digital supply chain for cobalt has now completed its pilot phase and will be ready for live computing environments in spring 2020. 

In addition, the blockchain network devoted to boosting human rights and environmental protection in mineral supply chains announced the addition of Volvo Cars to the group of responsible sourcing leaders.

About the RSBN

RSBN is built on the IBM Blockchain Platform and aside from being backed up by RCS Global Group, it has serious involvement from founding members like Volkswagen Group, Ford Motor Company, LG Chem and Huayou Cobalt and now… Volvo.

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RSBN’s participants are working on an open, industry-friendly blockchain platform to seek minerals that are responsibly created from its source to the end product. As part of this process, RCS Global are evaluating every participant and its work, taking into consideration the responsible sourcing requirements made by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

As the CEO of RCS Global Group, Dr. Nicholas Garrett commented:

We are setting in motion a process of mainstreaming responsible sourcing practices across major industries.”

In regards to the advancement of the project, he added:

“We’ve reached significant new milestones as we’ve moved beyond testing, proving the merits of this coupled technology and assurance model can extend to a wide range of participants across every tier of the supply chain and to other minerals. The early addition of Volkswagen Group and now Volvo Cars to this collaboration confirms that blockchain technology together with responsible sourcing assurance can help address critical sustainability issues impacting the entire industry.”

The Volvo welcoming party

Volvo enters the consortium with the aim to be the premier firm to fully apply the group’s solution in its LG Chem supply chain, as of spring 2020. In future plans, Volvo also intends to put RSBN into use for other minerals, like lithium and nickel that are used in their batteries.

Volkswagen AG have been occupied with similar work, concerning the demand for supply chain due diligence. They are contacting battery suppliers with the goal to boost its supply chain mapping and audit endeavors for important battery mineral supply chains.   

Volkswagen is using this technology to secure a better supply chain traceability via RSBN but head of Strategy for Volkswagen Group Procurement, Ulrich Gereke said:

“The Volkswagen Group has set itself a goal of full transparency in the critical supply chains of our parts and products, which includes cobalt. Due to the particular complexity of many critical supply chains, such transparency goals represent a difficult challenge…The Volkswagen Group encourages other business partners to join the network.”

RSBN becomes a significant tool for Ford as well, as next year they are planning to introduce their electric SUV that is inspired by Mustang. With the help of the network they want to improve visibility and transparency to their mineral supply chain.

What did the test pilot phase achieve?

During its initial testing phase, the RSBN blockchain showed how cobalt that comes from Huayou’s mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) can be traced via the supply chain to LG Chem’s plant in South Korea and eventually to a Ford plant in the United States.

Lisa Drake, part of VP Global Purchasing and Powertrain Operations at Ford noted on the completion of the pilot phase:

“As a founding member of the network, we are pleased that the project is moving to an operational phase. This will further strengthen the human rights protection and responsible sourcing efforts in mineral supply chains. This becomes even more important as we start to launch our next generation of all-electric vehicles starting next year.”

RCS Global Group uses their own auditing activities for OEMs and on top of them, they have evaluated and verified each participating supply chain by the standards coming from the OECD. They are also applying good practice demands such as the Responsible Minerals Initiative (RMI) blockchain guidelines.

Except spreading to minerals like nickel and lithium, the network aims to work towards a solution to trace other metals like gold, tantalum and tungsten, known in the industry as 3TG. Of course, these plans can change with time, as further verifications are still yet to come.  

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