August 2011 | How-To | Ten Tips

Securing Global Supply Chains

Tags: Security

With trading partners spread across various regions, unique security risks associated with different countries, and an array of legal and regulatory regimes, global shippers must be well-prepared to ensure cargo safety. Bill Anderson, group director of security and international safety, Ryder System Inc., provides these tips for securing your international supply chain.

1. Create a uniform set of global policies, processes, and forms. Establish procedures that satisfy the varied requirements of programs such as Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism and Canada's Partners in Protection.

2. Share information with stakeholders. New threats continually emerge, so companies with international supply chains must regularly update key stakeholders such as government and law enforcement agencies.

3. Promote cross-functional cooperation. Many departments within a company can help secure its supply chain. Corporate audit can detect fraud and internal conspiracies, while corporate compliance can monitor for compliance with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and conduct ethics investigations. A company's sales force should know its customers and verify the information they provide.

4. Use activity-based safety and security management. Building a security management program around events such as audits, inspections, business partner reviews, and employee training can help keep local operations informed.

5. Develop a formal risk assessment process. Understand the risks in each region, and compare supply chain threats against each operator's ability to respond and effectively defend itself against these threats.

6. Conduct real-time vehicle monitoring. Equipping tractors and trailers with GPS is typically not enough to detect and respond to a potential breach. Establish a manned monitoring center where personnel track vehicles in real time.

7. Consider extortion risk. Violence and extortion can affect the supply chain when key personnel are targeted. Companies should ensure employees know the protocol for reporting extortion, and provide resources and training to help them respond to threats.

8. Evaluate bribery risk. In some regions, bribery is common, and illicit cash transactions may not be recognized and reported. Loads may be breached in exchange for payment. A robust FCPA program can help increase awareness. Institute work instructions that segregate duties at the point where containers are consolidated. For example, the parties loading the freight should be independent from those verifying container contents and applying container seals.

9. Verify information through site visits. While foreign supply chain partners may indicate they are compliant when they complete their self-assessment forms, the only way to confirm this is to go on-site and observe their practices. Be persistent and demand evidence of compliance.

10. Be flexible and continuously improve your operations. Don't be afraid to try new methods and innovations to make sure that supply chain security experts stay one step ahead of their adversaries.