“Captain, there is a fault in the engine control sensor. We have to carry out checks and see,” the engineer calls on to the Operating Commander of the flight, who is eager to depart with his calculations of flight duty time, aerodrome watch hours, weather developments and fuel planning, apart from worrying about his fatigue, about the operating flight and cabin crew, and the discomfort being caused to passengers from the delay, for which he/she has already punched in the clock timer. Then start the multilevel calls from the captain, engineer, etc, to various higher levels, the correspondence for the revival of flight plans and permissions, safety calls and legal formalities, approvals and availability of parts and experts to install them and check—the tension in the environment for maintaining efficiency and safety.

Here comes the vital role of a blockchain management systems application—which is yet to be applied in the critical time-efficiency management of flight operations in India. Imagine if the detection of a fault was established, with the required information being broadcast at technical, operational and managerial chains all together. The integration of the processes of understanding, judgement, solution and decision, with the approval and procurement of the required part in time, would have narrowed down the presently required time of 8-12 hours to about 2 hours, including repair work and testing. This explains how costs and time can be saved, along with enhancing safety, by shifting to blockchain in aviation operations. However, we are still in the nascent stages of using technology and software applications for aviation operations in general.

The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is the technological revolution that has made it possible to collect and analyse data across machines, thus enabling fast, flexible and efficient processes to produce high quality goods at lower costs. Industry 4.0 technologies include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, Virtual/Augmented reality (VR/AR), 3D printing, drones, autonomous vehicles and wearables, among others. According to a survey of 2000 companies by PWC, 33% of companies say that they have achieved advanced levels of digitisation and 72% expect to achieve advanced levels of digitisation by 2020. Industrial companies are estimated to be able to generate 3.6% p.a. in cost reductions over the next five years as well as 2.9% per annum in increased revenues by digitising products and services. This translates to a revenue increase of $493 billion per annum and a cost reduction of $421 billion per annum until 2020, which is the lowest in the Covid-19 era.

Blockchain management systems have taken the place of the core of industrial establishments. The transparent consensus mechanism of blockchain makes it possible to verify the validity of transactions and how information has been modified or created in the process. Blockchain has opened the door for many new possibilities in the way value can be directly transferred between participants in a convenient and trusted manner. With smart contracts, execution of workflows will be used for automation of regulatory workflows. Reporting and monitoring of required data, checking of compliances, and approval processes will become easier than ever.

Furthermore, in case of food supply chains, for example, a blockchain-enabled ecosystem can facilitate end-to-end service that alleviates interruptions in supply chain with the occurrence of fraudulent products. By integrating supply chain management with an Internet of Things (IoT) system that supports an automated machine-to-machine communication, an optimal and safe value transfer can take place across the entire process.

Succeeding in the next industrial era requires manufacturing companies to define and shape their core value drivers enabled by digital technologies. Industry 4.0 will drive operational efficiencies through Smart Factories and Smart Supply Chains as well as growing opportunities through innovation and bespoke solutions to increase customer value. They will ultimately lead to completely new business models and service offerings enabled through digitalisation.

It is becoming evident that blockchain has the potential to be more impactful by combining cyber and physical systems through the integration with Industry 4.0 technology platforms such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Robotics, 3D Printing, Augmented Reality and Smart Sensors. Industrial and business models are being designed based on these end-to-end services that are completely interconnected and secure using Blockchain technology in most production supply chain management systems in the factories.

Industry 4.0 aims to turn machines into smart, context-aware, and autonomous agents connected with their surroundings. Blockchains need to go a step further, to imagine a move away from centralised production in the form of classical facilities. There lies the possibility that any machine, which plays a role in a production process, could autonomously form part of a production line with other machines worldwide. To enable this—apart from the classical administration shell features—machines in our view need the ability to wager, negotiate, and, most importantly, exchange values with other machines which rely on the usage of blockchain. The future of smart cities and a smart world depends on the integration of machines through blockchain methodology, and will help make blockchain the core of the Industrial Revolution 4.0.

The writer is a commercial pilot flying Boeing ‪737-700/800/900, and has logged seven thousand hours on JET, serving as Senior Commander (Line Training Captain) at Air India Express. She is also active in social and developmental national organisations and is currently pursuing a PhD from IIT.