Application of Blockchain Technology for ISA95-Compliant Traditional and Smart Manufacturing Systems

Abstract: The ISA95 standard has been dominating the manufacturing industry for several years. A vast number of ISA95-compliant traditional and legacy manufacturing systems (ISA95-CTS) are scattered across many factories worldwide. The technological advancements imposed by Industry 4.0 (4IR) have had a disruptive effect on the legacy composition of the manufacturing industry with the inclusion of cutting-edge technologies such as cyber-physical systems, artificial intelligence, machine learning, smart manufacturing systems (SMMS), and the industrial internet of things. Thus, modern factories are composed of traditional and emerging manufacturing systems that are anticipated to collaborate to reach the same 4IR goals. The heterogeneous composition of ISA95-CTS and SMMS leads to several challenges impacting the manufacturing industry in terms of interoperability, data quality, cybersecurity, and scalability in general. The manufacturing industry has struggled to overcome these obstacles that inhibit the adoption of innovative 4IR concepts and solutions. The distinct characteristics of decentralized verifiability, transparency, end-to-end data integrity, high availability, and superior data protection features make blockchain technology (BCT) a unique technology that can be adapted to various industries, including the manufacturing industry, with a virtually infinite number of business scenarios. Given its value propositions, BCT can act as a catalyst to accelerate the 4IR digitalization journey by solving ever-growing industrial manufacturing problems. Several researchers have shown how BCT can be used by the manufacturing industry to overcome particular industrial challenges. However, this thesis, combined with its complementary publications, differentiates from other studies by systematically assessing the suitability of ISA95-CTS, and it proposes conceptual grounds for the adoption of BCT by the manufacturing industry. This thesis also presents a comprehensive blockchain reference system architecture description for ISA95-CTS and SMMS with 40 distinct design specifications in addition to the theoretical contributions. Given this conceptual framework, this thesis has also sought to validate and justify the applicability of the blockchain reference architecture. Thus, each design specification was individually examined, and a proof of concept (POC) implementation managed to realize 31 requirements out of 40. The remaining nine requirements were also meticulously iterated, and a detailed explanation for excluding them from the POC implementation is elaborated. Thereby, all dimensions of applicability of the blockchain reference architecture are entirely validated with empirical results. 

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