Renault Deploys A Blockchain to Trace And Certify the Conformity

With its XCEED project, Renault wants to set up a blockchain to ensure the traceability of regulatory compliance for the thousands of spare parts that make up its vehicles. A project that involves many stakeholders and must allow it to quickly access all of this compliance information.

Renault is deploying a blockchain to trace and certify the regulatory compliance of vehicle components and subcomponents from design to production. That is to say thousands of spare parts meeting different certification criteria. A look back at the genesis of this project called XCEED for eXtended Compliance End to End Distributed, the aim of which is to facilitate the traceability of all the components of a vehicle.

The vehicles are made up of several thousand spare parts, each of which must meet different certifications and safety standards. When Renault needs to access the compliance status of a vehicle at a given time, it can take several hours, or even several days, time to directly contact all the parties involved. “The blockchain makes it possible to have more direct exchanges and to switch to real time or near real time,” says L’Usine Digitale Odile Panciatici, blockchain vice-president at Renault.

The Hyperledger Fabric blockchain technology was selected by Renault and IBM, which is the integrator of the solution. Then the builder chose his Douai plant to test the project. Five equipment manufacturers and six partner industrial sites were quickly won over despite changes in the tools to be mastered and the sharing of sometimes sensitive data. For its part, IBM worked upstream with the various team leaders to understand how they work and adapt the tool so that it is as less intrusive as possible.

Concretely, each supplier connects to a platform with his identifiers. He can enter the certification data he has and “do searches by lot and by vehicle to verify all the tests carried out”, summarizes Vincent Fournier, senior managing consultant Blockchain at IBM. The various accesses have been configured upstream to clearly define who can download which data and who can access the various information.

“Beyond technology, the very important point is that of governance and the question of who can access what data”, abounds Odile Panciatici. When different actors, who do not necessarily know each other and come from different backgrounds, find themselves downloading data on the same platform, it is necessary to be able to manage and control this access. The experiment carried out in Douai also reassured the manufacturer on this point.

The deployment of the blockchain also made it possible to test the volume and capacity of it. “In three months, a million documents have been downloaded,” says Odile Panciatici. This technology must be able to meet extremely important data needs. This is one of the strong points of the Hyperledger Fabric blockchain, which “is recognized for its maturity and can respond to business use cases,” adds Vincent Fournier.

Renault has been working on blockchain since 2015. This technology “is a tool for competitiveness and a vector of transformation for industries which fully shows its value when used on a transversal scale”, explains Odile Panciatici. The certification of vehicle components meets this criterion since a large number of players are involved. Renault is already aiming to deploy its XCEED project in several factories and to expand the number of players involved in the course of 2021. If the manufacturer seems to have set an ambitious schedule, it does not yet give a precise date on upcoming deployments.

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