FBI data shows that cargo worth $30 billion is being lost every year, with the problem growing as cargo values steadily rise. In order to secure your high value cargo, logistics professionals rely on multi-layered security technology as their primary tool in the fight against theft. Shippers agree: the future of security is already here. Many advanced solutions like GPS chips on each parcel, radio-frequency identification, and biometric systems are already in wide use.
The most common cargo theft scenario involves dishonest drivers who carry cargo away from the loading deck. With a biometric system, each driver can be issued a biometric identity card which helps dispatchers track stolen cargo by linking it to a particular geographical position and vehicle. Moreover, biometric solutions can scan and identify large numbers of people, thereby helping to ensure that only trusted people are carrying cargo throughout the entire transportation process.
One of the earliest examples of biometrics integrated into supply chains dates back to 1999 at the Rotterdam seaport, which started using a hand recognition system to identify truck drivers entering the port. Other forward-thinking companies have followed suit, such as Newcastle-based Ievo Ltd, which installed fingerprint readers for Belgium-based European Horse Services (EHS), an equine logistics company transporting some of the world’s most expensive horses. There are many ways biometric solutions can be applied to supply chains.
“High value goods are in great demand on the black market and are especially attractive targets for thieves. Proper loss prevention measures help ensure that these shipments aren’t vulnerable targets. Shippers increasingly count on their logistics providers to be a first line of defense against theft, particularly when it comes to high-value and high-risk goods. However, shippers all too frequently rely on providers whose qualifications are not up to the proper safety and security standards necessary to transport these types of goods,” says Frank Muller, Vice President of the Board of Directors at AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG.
Mr. Muller highlights that just because a logistics company has an excellent reputation moving “regular” commodities does not necessarily mean it has the experience, skills, insurance, or carrier network to move high-end goods such as electronics.
“To keep our clients’ freight safe and secure, AsstrA has created unique procedures and processes used when transporting all loads that we or our clients consider high-value or high-risk. We recognize that not every load is the same and create customized procedures accordingly. Technological solutions involving biometrics or “track & trace” applications allow us to verify a shipment’s status and to see notes added by drivers and dispatchers. These applications visualize information containing details of the cargo, its itinerary, transport events, and points for stops or pick-up/drop-off, which are shown on a map”, explains Mr. Muller.
Biometrics can also be integrated with other cargo navigation solutions. Currently, in the European transportation industry the most highly demanded solutions are “truck & trace” systems which visualize the cargo’s real-time location, its movements, and handlers. By integrating biometrics with this type of navigation system, owners gain greater control over their cargo.
“The key solution to secure cargo during transportation is a vehicle equipped with special systems and telemetry. For the most part, this vehicle is provided by a supplier working with a logistics provider. From the logistics side, the most efficient ways to secure cargo are strict compliance with internal operational protocols and security standards, remotely tracking cargo vehicles, and real-time evaluation of obstacles occurring on a transport route with tools like the “track & trace” systems currently in use at AsstrA,” says Vitaly Lazovsky, Supply Chain Security Manager at AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG.
Electronic cargo tracing also improves intermodal cargo transportation. Freight forwarding by land, sea, and air that requires significant human involvement poses additional cargo security challenges. Higher levels of security can be achieved by integrating biometric technologies into cargo monitoring systems.
“Accountability at every step of logistics operations is not a privilege – it is a must. Technological cargo safety solutions like “truck and trace” systems, smart-locks for vehicles, and even biometric systems for personnel authentication have already proven their value in the industry. It is important to highlight that the most common types of high-value cargo are often ordered by customers online: laptops, cell phones, cosmetics, perfumes, fashion items, and home appliances. And if global retailers integrate biometric data into their sales, marketing, and distribution operations, transportation providers cannot lag behind. High-value cargo supply chains are interconnected. Thus, the logistics industry uses technology like biometrics differently than does the retail industry,” comments Mr. Lazovsky.
Global retail industry analysis from Juniper Research show significant growth in the use of biometric authentication to pay for goods with mobile devices, with an estimated 2 billion people using such mobile technology for purchasing. Consumers expect to be able to track their deliveries in real time after they have paid for their goods. In this scenario, retailers can fulfill their customers’ needs only through strong collaboration and communication with their logistics partners.