Sophisticated Innovations Enhance Supply Chain Security

The global economy relies on moving goods securely and efficiently through an increasingly extended multimodal transport system. Aggressive thieves with sophisticated techniques have spurred innovations in shipment processes, technology tools, and regulatory compliance to enhance logistics security efforts.

As a framework for better security processes, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 28000 standards on supply chain security management address theft, terrorism, fraud, and piracy issues.

Shippers, however, must customize how they apply these standards to each transport mode. For truck shipments, for example, they should place security seals on the trailer/container, because intact seals generally indicate to drivers and terminal personnel that the shipment hasn’t been compromised.

Truck/rail intermodal shipments involve more handoffs, requiring special security steps. Loads should travel in an ISO container instead of a more vulnerable trailer, and inspectors and rail police at selected checkpoints should ensure that containers have not been compromised during the slower rail transport process.

Using ISO intermodal freight containers has required advances in electronic, computer, and satellite technology. The most sophisticated electronic shipment tracking systems, for example, go beyond standard track-and-trace programs to manage and direct freight shipments.

These systems can create individual shipment "watch lists," which include progress indicators and automatic email notice of transportation milestones. As a result, shippers always know the status of their shipments, and can immediately identify any disruption that requires remedial action.

Technology Tools

Geofencing technology supports such tracking by creating a virtual "fence" around the transport route from pickup to delivery. Global Positioning System tracking devices allow carriers and shippers to follow loads along the route. The system alerts all parties the moment a load veers off the planned route or the device is impacted.

Security procedures added to Customs and trade regulations aim to prevent terrorist attacks. Three federal government programs illustrate the effort to enhance cargo security:

  1. The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) is a cooperative cargo security effort between U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and all key supply chain players. CBP asks businesses to ensure the integrity of their security practices, and communicate and verify their business partners’ security guidelines covering imports from any country, by any transport mode. C-TPAT-certified shipments move through Customs more efficiently, while maintaining full security integrity.
  2. U.S. government standards mandated 100-percent security screening of all cargo transported on aircraft as of August 2010. More recently, the Transportation Security Administration announced that it will begin screening all cargo arriving from international passenger flights as of Dec. 3, 2012.
  3. For ocean cargo, CBP Importer Security Filing rules require importers to submit security-related shipment data at least 24 hours before goods are loaded.

These initiatives integrate processes, technology, and regulations to create the control necessary for secure shipping.

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