Building pros say to really see blockchain’s potential in this business, you first need to forget everything you’ve heard about bitcoin and crypto, because blockchain is much more basic than that.
In fact, it’s a lot more boring, which is what makes it so potentially powerful for construction.
So far, blockchain is mostly known as the underlying technology for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. And that’s one of the biggest challenges in getting your head around this tech for construction.
So far, there have only been a few real-world use cases of blockchain in construction.
Immutable project close out. One happened when Minneapolis-based contractor Gardner Builders, with the help of Briq, delivered a digital twin of a building to its owner on a blockchain. Doing so created a record of every component used in the structure, for all time.
Single source of truth. According to Harvard Business Review, blockchain has also been leveraged by Amsterdam-based HerenBouw to create an audit trail for a large-scale development project in the city’s harbor.
Provenance of materials. Briq (then known as Brickschain) also helped Australia’s Probuild ensure the authenticity, or provenance, of panels built in China, by recording all interactions in the supply chain along the way. That’s a key step to preventing counterfeiting or ensuring quality control of materials sourced globally, another potential application for the technology.
“You can use the blockchain to verify the chain of custody of materials, all the way from a factory in India, right down to the installation in New York City,” said Stephen Mulva, director of the Construction Industry Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, which has spearheaded an initiative called Operating System 2.0 to explore the use of blockchain in construction.
Smart contracts. Mulva said the technology has also been used in residential building for payment settlement to be triggered when certain milestones are met, similar to the concrete example above.
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