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Using intelligent security to ensure safe deliveries

by Sarah Jacotine on May 19, 2014

Patrik Anderson, director of business development transportation at Axis Communications.
Patrik Anderson, director of business development transportation at Axis Communications.

Our transport and logistics clients are constantly faced with the question: how difficult can it be to move goods from point A to point B? After all, that is what the backbone of the global economy is all about. We take it for granted that goods arrive on shelves in stores and customers receive their orders on time, often the next day and sometimes even the same day.

Anyone working in the logistics industry knows that there is a complex process behind this and that the exchange of goods between different stakeholders in the value chain encompasses a variety of different transport modes that stretch across multiple regions to keep the wheels of the global economy spinning.

Looking at complex global logistics flows from a security perspective, we have seen an unfortunate increase in attacks against supply chains across all regions and modes of transport. Several organisations and government bodies report the same alarming statistics.

Organised crime and everyday criminals have found a new target in the flow of goods as a means to make fast profits.

How can we fight back against the increasing number of incidents and how can we help protect a lone driver or parked trucks and trailers?

Manufacturers have carefully and over a long time built up quality systems to ensure that their products and solutions meet the expectations of their customers. But what happens to products after they leave the boundaries of the manufacturer’s quality system? Something unexpected could occur during transport, when there are shared responsibilities between different parties.

How can the logistics industry more easily and cost effectively backtrack the series of events that lead to an incident between point A and point B, and how can precision be improved on a global scale?

One trend within the logistics industry is to increase the use of telematics of various types to track and trace goods along their journey. Some companies have started to use this as a post-incident tool to verify the routing of goods while others use this as a tool to monitor and control both fleets and goods in real time.

This method is based on capturing the identification of passing-through-goods by scanning barcodes or RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags at warehouses, logistics and distribution centers. However it cannot reveal what truly happened to a given shipment, nor the present status of the goods. It doesn’t allow us to ascertain who did what and when, or why and how the goods are affected.

Of course one can, just like the great Sherlock Holmes, attempt to make advanced guesses on why unannounced or unplanned stops along a shipment’s route have occurred. But what does it really mean if a barcode is scanned and the shipment is accounted for at a cross-docking station? What does it say about possible damage or loss of the goods? The scanned data does not allow for a visual post-verification of the goods and therefore does not create transparency.

We need to create visibility and remove costly and time consuming guesswork from the investigations of incidents, claims, attacks and deviations of transports and goods. To do this, crisp clear pictures from warehouses, cross-docking stations, logistics centres or trucks, trailers and delivery vans are essential.

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