DLT and Products-as-a-Service
Emerging business models such as servitization, or selling products-as-a-service, are more possible and plausible today because of distributed ledger technologies. Product-Service systems focus on a business model that combines delivery of products and services, for both business and environmental benefits. Manufacturers of assets can open up this new revenue model because they can trust the usage-data collected from the end-customers, and can rely on that data for billing or for maintenance of the products. Manufacturers’ value proposition offerings are changing therefore from product focused to service focused.
Servitization business models place an emphasis on the customers achieving their business goals, rather than only focusing on product features. Rolls Royce pioneered an engine solution which changed the deal with customers from a transactional purchase of equipment towards a ten-year contractual relationship guaranteeing operational time of the engine. MAN Truck & Bus Company offers comprehensive services around drivers’ behaviour and fuel efficiency, in order to help customers operate more efficiently, with charging based on the distance trucks are driven. Manufacturers such as Rolls Royce and MAN are best-placed to offer services around their products because they hold the product IP and can use the data they gather from the product in lifecycle to re-engineer products and best shape their service offers.
In the oil and gas sector we have been having discussions with companies that manufacture products, then rent them out and also service them. Wallet.Services’ DLT platform and toolkit SICCAR helps product-as-a-service providers build up a digital twin record of every transaction in the chain of custody of the asset as it happens over time. For example, Remotely Operated Vehicles are highly manoeuvrable underwater robots, assets operated by someone at the water surface essential for servicing subsea rigs. With SICCAR, a trusted ledger of validated and verifiable audit logs is created, building a trusted immutable record, tracking and tracing what the vehicle has done, and how it has been maintained. With that kind of record available, many oil and gas operators could use the same ROV. Currently most buy their own, meaning machines are often inefficiently used, and scrapped at the end of their lifecycle with one owner. But with SICCAR, there is scope for networks of operators to share assets. The organisations don’t have to trust each other – the actual validated history of the asset is verified as a true record by all parties involved.
The biggest benefit of utilising DLT via SICCAR in servitization business models is being able to establish a single source of truth and implement a system of checks and balances for all parties within the product manufacturing supply chain and ongoing operation and maintenance chain of custody. Multiple participants have their copies of the ledger, making it difficult for any single party (or group of colluding parties) to manipulate the transactions. Each one can check their copy to see who did what and when, creating an environment where everyone is accountable, and every transaction is inherently trusted. The value of such a system increases exponentially as more parties in the ecosystem join the network.
This integrity and transparency enables standards agencies and third-party assurers to remotely assess chain of custody processes such as product-as-a-service offerings, ensuring they comply with legal, safety and environmental regulations. SICCAR can also help when something goes wrong. Professionals can perform root-cause analysis quicker and can settle disputes between the multiple parties faster because of the inherently trusted single source of truth governed by all the parties.
There is also scope for better environmental outcomes with servitization. The circular economy looks at how to extract maximum use from products and then repurpose and recycle them. It relates to servitization in terms of the environmental sustainability of manufacturers taking on the responsibility for making products that last longer through operations and maintenance lifecycles, and having to dispose of them at end of life. SICCAR can support the building up over time of trusted and true full-lifecycle cybersecure records of assets, enabling circular economy decisions that are better for the environment.
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