How Secure Is Your Air and Ocean Cargo?

Air and ocean cargo security remains a high priority for supply chain managers across the globe. While cargo theft has been a concern for years, organizations also contend with the risk of terrorist groups uncovering vulnerabilities in global supply chains to carry out illicit cross-border operations.

While the United States introduced the C-TPAT program in November 2001 to enhance border protection, other countries have enacted their own supply chain protection programs.

The risk of theft and terrorism can affect many points throughout the supply chain, including network supplier facilities, trucks, transfer points, warehouses, ports, aircraft, and container ships. To address susceptibilities across the network, organizations must bolster physical security, personnel security, and data security, among others. They must also monitor cargo security notices from various agencies and evaluate areas for improvement in their own processes.

CBP Leads the Way

An estimated 100 million cargo containers move through global ports annually, and 11 million arrive in U.S. ports. International shippers are required to provide specific manifest information for all U.S.-bound cargo containers in advance of departure. As part of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Container Security Initiative, foreign customs authorities then partner with the CBP to review this information and identify and examine high-risk cargo while it is still located within foreign ports.

Securing air cargo is another multi-enterprise effort. Within the United States, the CBP leads many of the air cargo security initiatives, while the Transportation Security Administration is responsible for cargo aboard airplanes, with particular focus on passenger-carrying planes.

On Sept. 11, 2014, Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.) introduced new legislation as an amendment to the SAFE Port Act of 2006 called SCAN—Safe Containers Absolutely Now Act (HR 5455)—with the aim of 100 percent cargo container scanning at domestic ports. "Top security experts recommend that shipping containers entering our ports be scanned, but 13 years later we only scan three percent of incoming cargo. This is unacceptable," Hahn said in announcing her legislation.

Securing supply chains can hinge on timely access to country regulations and programs. Countries can rapidly enact cargo shipment restrictions or embargoes that might impact cross-border movements.

For example, in December 2015, the Australian government imposed restrictions on air cargo that originated from or had other contact with Syria, Egypt, Bangladesh, Yemen, and Somalia. Similarly, the Canadian government passed legislation in 2015 in an effort to enhance its voluntary Air Cargo Security Program.

Shippers Carry the Burden

While many government and cargo security programs hope to improve global supply chain security, much of the burden is placed on shippers and supply chain trading partners. This responsibility requires timely information sharing, physical security of supply chain nodes, and meeting government program qualification standards.

Automation technology can help you maximize visibility over your cargo security operations. Additionally, immediate access to rapidly changing requirements for import and export activities plays a key role in light of new security concerns. By ensuring both operational visibility and access to information, companies can reduce trading with restricted parties and meet all cargo security standards for the countries involved.

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