Moving expensive bank notes, prescription pharmaceuticals, precious metals/stones, artwork, high-priced electronics and other luxury items calls for a different approach than transporting run-of-the-mill cargo. Freight protection of high value goods of this nature can — and should require a much more comprehensive approach to security.
Longer Supply Chains and More Diverse Marketing Geography
The storage and transportation of high value goods has always demanded a greater level of security, but a number of factors have recently boosted the risk. Both raw material/component sourcing and the location of markets for luxury goods has become more diverse. Additional touch points in both sourcing and sales & marketing functions linearly increases risk and the corresponding need for enhanced freight protection. Lastly, organized crime has also boosted their interest in the theft of goods while they are in transit.
In recent years freight theft has been increasing in both Europe and Asia, while in North, Central, and South America, numerical levels of threat has remained consistent (although in some cases the monetary loss levels per shipment have increased).
Already large but still emerging markets such as Brazil, Mexico, and South Africa have the greatest risk of cargo theft, quite often by hijacking. However, every market contains its own risks and security managers must also be cognizant of varying cultural norms and business practices. Severe weather, natural disasters, political unrest and other localized disruptions can also increase risk by slowing down high value freight shipments.
When cargo is of high value, even everyday business decisions must be considered from a freight protection and security perspective. Often this means producing goods more closely to the markets they are sold in, reducing exposure to longer supply chains and delivery routes.
While all areas have crime issues of this nature, each country tends to have differences in the types of theft. Understanding these geographic and cultural differences can be important in designing a security strategy against freight theft, although in some areas the lack of consistent reporting of these crimes can reduce the utility of available data.
False Driver Credential Scams Have Become a Big Threat
Substitute drivers have soared as an issue in high value goods freight security in recent years. The driver arrives in a timely manner, he has paperwork that appears in order and the truck that he’s driving has all the proper logos and markings. There is no reason whatsoever for the warehouse personnel to be suspicious. Soon the cargo is on its way – unfortunately to the black market – earning a substantial profit for the thieves without violence or even much risk.
These false-driver credential heists are the most recent method challenging freight protection in the shipment of high-value goods such as jewelry, electronic components, prescription pharmaceuticals, alcohol, luxury apparel, fine art and specialized auto parts. Especially in good economic times shipping capacity becomes tight and shippers make compromises to get their their cargo to market on time. Manufacturers and freight forwarders can be forced to use carriers that they’re less familiar with, which opens the door to organized crime and other thieves to slip into the supply chain and do damage.
Thieves have become much more sophisticated when recognizing the large monetary gains that can be obtained by targeting high value goods in transit. They will go to extreme measures such as surreptitiously obtaining government credentials, utilize the name of a certified carrier no longer in operation and also cultivate inside sources to collaborate in their crime. With the large amounts of money on the line they will observe procedures and patterns used in high-value goods supply chains. These steps make it possible for them to arrive at pickup facilities with the required information to appear legitimate and carry the precious cargo off without suspicion.
Speed is a Powerful Weapon in High Value Freight Protection
So how does a company enhance its freight protection against these newly sophisticated threats? A variety of regulations, best practices and high technology protection products can help high-value goods shippers get their cargo where it needs to go.
One of the simplest, but most powerful weapons against freight theft is speed. Slowness is the enemy of security when it comes to freight protection. Multiple touch-points not only slows cargo but also creates more opportunities for thieves to work their mischief. More direct routes with less stop-overs and shorter stays at each stop-over represent best practices in preventing cargo theft of expensive goods.
Technological advances have also made a significant impact on security. New technologies such as the OpticalLock system (see below) can enhance freight tracking, effectively improving security while lowering personnel and overall security costs.
The science of predictive modeling has exploded in many areas in recent years and this is very true in supply chain management and transportation as well. Reviewing loss rates by shipment and product makes it is possible to forecast expected losses for cargo, so customers can allocate security resources accordingly. This enables customers to forecast and deploy the right amount of security technology and other resources by shipment category, geographic region, mode of transportation, etc.
Enhanced supply chain visibility provided by the various new technology solutions can help supply chain logistics and security managers ensure high-value goods arrive at their designated location on time.
The OpticalLock system can enhance freight protection and security in a number of the areas listed above. The OpticalLock system combines the capabilities of a standard padlock, security seal and tampering tracking/alerting all in one device. The OpticalLock continuously monitors any attempts at tampering with the device and sends real-time alerts to designated supply chain personnel in the event of any anomalous activities. When freight is in transit, the on-board GPS of the OpticalLock ensures it is where it is supposed to be at all times along the designated route, generating wireless alerts via Geo-fencing if the shipment leaves a predetermined route. In addition, the OpticalLock system gathers data which can be used as both as an audit trail to verify chain-of-custody and as well as the basis for predictive modeling of security issues. The software component of the OpticalLock system is highly secure, utilizing multiple layers of AES 256-bit encryption for communications and stored data.