BlockChange #3

SteelTrace improves quality tracing of steel by using blockchain

By Tom Janssen

Quality is everything. Especially when the product is mainly used for construction purposes. So the steel industry is taking quality tracing very seriously. Currently, tracing is organized in a old fashioned manner. Loads of paperwork serve the purpose of tracking the origins of steel supplies, that are being delivered to manufacturers all over the world. Authenticity of these papers is often a liability. To improve this process, the Dutch startup SteelTrace uses blockchain.

SteelTrace is founded by Maastricht natives Tom Meulendijks (31) and Luuk Linssen (27). Before they started SteelTrace, Tom was director at a web agency and Luuk worked at an advertising company.

“An uncle of mine works in the steel industry”, Tom explains the history behind their new venture. “Through him we discovered the challenges involved with quality tracing in this sector. As tech entrepreneurs, we are always interested in how technology could play a role in improving certain processes. Especially blockchain offers tremendous opportunities for innovation. Immediately we were convinced that blockchain could be a solution for the problems concerning the quality of steel.”

To cut the corner short: Quality tracing in the steel industry is done on paper and that causes several issues. Most importantly, there is the problem of authenticity certificates that are handed over at each station in the supply chain of steel. Because there are so many people involved, it is far from transparent who is handling those certificates and if they are handled correctly by the latest quality standards. Therefore, for the people that eventually have to use the steel, its difficult to control the quality as described on those certificates. That is why SteelTrace wants to replace the paper forms by a blockchain solution, so the whole quality tracing process will be open and for everyone to see.

“By using blockchain, steel suppliers are able to prove that this is really steel that is manufactured by them and not some other company that uses their name under false pretenses”, says Luuk. “Tracking the heritage of the steel is much more easy, efficient and reliable, if the process is documented with blockchain instead of paper.”

SteelTrace just recently started. Momentarily, Tom and Luuk are pitching their concept to manufacturers all over Europe. Meanwhile there are already some companies that are interested in the concept of SteelTrace. Tom: “We would like to lay out some stepping stones with them for the development of a pilot project. And of course we want to meet other companies who are also interested in our ideas.”

Their startup is rooted in the Euregion Meuse-Rhine, but Tom and Luuk feel they are not confined to the region alone. “The issue of quality tracing in the steel industry is a global challenge”, says Luuk. “But this region is situated between the Randstad (Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht, The Hague, TJ) in the North of the Netherlands and the Ruhrgebiet in Germany. Therefore, this location makes it interesting to operate from here.”

Tom hails the fast-growing regional scene of blockchain fanatics. “If it wasn’t for all the blockchain enthousiasts here, this startup wouldn’t exist”, Tom feels. “I also think that the larger insititutions in this region should focus on these people and their startups. Give them the chance to prove themselves. Because they make the region interesting and appealling.”

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