Blockchain technology, under study in the EusKate project
The EusKate project, in which DOMINION participates and whose main objective is the generation of new knowledge based on the use and applicability of blockchain technology in industry, has started this year with the aim of creating a blockchain platform for Industry 4.0.
This will allow the creation of prototypes in laboratory or controlled environments, as well as the validation, experimentation and analysis of new products and services based on this technology that can offer a differential value compared to the competition.
EusKate wants to place special emphasis on the application of this technology in Advanced Manufacturing and its contexts of production automation, traceability and energy management, in such a way that new products, processes or services can be generated making it possible to considerably improve the existing ones. In addition, the project addresses the following technological objectives in order to achieve its goals: to investigate the capacity of the blockchain to respond or not to specific technological challenges and needs of advanced manufacturing in the Basque economy; to analyze the interoperability of blockchain with protocols and systems already existing in the industry; to define an industrial reference architecture; to design an identity management mechanism based on the current needs and systems of the industry; or to design a system for registering operations specific to the industrial sector. At the same time, it will analyze the implementation of new algorithmic consensus based on the specific needs of the industrial sector and design new mechanisms for smart contracts and automation of operations in the blockchain adapted to industry, all with the final objective of building a series of prototypes that allow validating and experiencing the applicability and benefits of blockchain to the concept of Industry 4.0.
The main role of DOMINION, which actively participates in all phases of the project, is to lead the work dedicated to transactions and cryptography, which aims to determine the consensus mechanisms that best suit the proposed industrial validation prototypes. According to Arkaitz Etxezarreta, Data Engineer & Advanced Analytics Consultant at DOMINION,"these (consensus mechanisms) consist of authentication and validation of transaction blocks in the blockchain, thus eliminating the need to involve a third party in the process with confidence". For the choice of consensus methods, which will depend on whether you are working with public, private or federated blockchains, you will need to "analyze the alternatives currently present and the viability of their use in industry, from points of view such as scalability of the solution, safety and fault tolerance, among others. Together with the development and implementation of components that facilitate its execution (of the consensus mechanisms), this will be one of the greatest technological challenges that we will face in this project ", as Arkaitz explains.
To carry out the project, a consortium has been created: IZERTIS, AFM (Advanced Manufacturing Technologies), Royde S. Coop., Gashor Equipos de panificación S. Coop., Dominion Digital S.L., Ibermática S.A., Grupo Ionsolar Aer, S.L., Tecnalia, Instituto Ibermática de Innovación (i3B) and Dominion Investigación y Desarrollo.
What is blockchain?
Many people claim that blockchain technology will lead the next industrial revolution. And it is that since in 2008 the people behind the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto published its operating mechanism, originally proposed as a P2P system of digital money, the interest in it has not stopped growing. This fact is leading to companies, entrepreneurs and governments around the world who are making millions of dollars in investments to develop it and take a privileged position.
The literal meaning of blockchain is' chain of blocks', and it is the technology underpinning the operation of, for example, applications such as Bitcoin Cryptocurrency (BTC), which are managed through bitcoin wallets. Due to the original purpose for which this system was originally designed, this database is called ledger (accounting book) and currently also names the ecosystem of alternative technologies that have arisen around it: Distributed Ledger Technologies or DLT.
Blockchain technology can be understood as a transactional, decentralized database, whose data are, in addition to immutable, previously approved by consensus, “says Arkaitz.
In a blockchain, the different nodes (computers) that participate in it have a copy of it, making the system somewhat resilient. On the other hand, immutability is given by the use of cryptographic techniques for linking between blocks, including also each one of them information from the previous block. In this way, any change in the blockchain would generate a chain reaction of discord that would allow it to be rejected.
Given the right application, the benefits of blockchain are multiple, since it helps to disintermediate processes by empowering its users, and it allows to raise the transparency level and, if correctly implemented, security.