Magazine Article | June 21, 2006

Supply Chain Security Simplified

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies

Protect containers and trailers with technology.

Integrated Solutions For Retailers, July 2006

Container and trailer security has become a hot issue, creating demand for technology to provide new solutions to solve this ever-increasing problem. Traditional technologies that have been used for many years on a worldwide basis are locks and seals. These solutions have established their place in the supply chain, however, seals only provide evidence of a break-in long after the fact, and locks are a mere inconvenience to thieves, only keeping out the unmotivated. The average price of a trailer load of goods has risen dramatically, calling for new measures and new security initiatives making demands on technology to provide relief.

Technology companies have responded with trailer tracking devices, RFID (radio frequency identification) smart containers, miniature covert cargo tracking/recovery devices, and the latest, global tracking seals. Trailer tracking devices are useful for logistics purposes and although this technology has matured, it provides little in the way of actual security for your cargo. RFID can be useful for carrying information on the shipment, manifests, driver information, and more, but once again, security takes a back seat. Some of the newer models of RFID do provide a record of door openings with time and date, and specialized readers can download the information. RFID readers are installed only at checkpoints, usually at the start and end of each trip, meaning the security status is reported long after the crime takes place and greatly reduces the possibility of preventing the crime or recovering the cargo.

Wireless, GPS Enable Continuous Cargo Security
Wireless communication costs have dropped significantly, making real time visibility of your cargo an affordable option. This opens up a completely new realm of products that are accurately labeled as cargo security. Software packages are being developed that take automatic vehicle location applications to a new level, with security and alert features built in. Wireless communication technology lets any authorized user receive security alerts immediately to their e-mail, PDA, or text message phone, significantly reducing the response time that is so important to solving or even preventing a crime.

Miniature cargo tracking and recovery devices use a variety of GPS (global positioning system) technologies and communication networks. This allows covert tracking of small packages, large pallet loads of goods, and they can also be covertly installed on trailers or containers. Covert devices are particularly useful for internal investigations, or for uncovering product diversion tactics. High-end models are available that can monitor motion, contact inputs, and even temperature. Active monitoring solutions can provide GEOZone alarming functions and direct e-mail reports for exception monitoring.

The latest offerings from manufacturers are global tracking seals. These feature-packed devices work like a trailer or container seal and incorporate terrestrial or communication links with seal integrity sensors and GPS locating devices. These seals constantly monitor the security status, and if breached will send out an instant alarm through global communication channels. Fully supervised models are available with a regular heartbeat that is monitored through software.

The first step in implementing any security plan is to evaluate the risks and apply appropriate measures according to the potential for loss. Not one solution is the be all and end all for loss prevention. A combination of technologies applied in layers offer the best security solution, teaming up new technologies with old.