Cost-effective ways to improve cargo security using security seals

Safety requirements for transport and warehousing of goods have been continuously increasing over the last few years. Security seals can offer easy-to-use and cost-effective form of protection, says Rajesh Kumar Banka.
Cost-effective ways to improve cargo security using security seals
The alarming increase in illegal, criminal and dishonest activities throughout the world means that more stringent and positive action is needed to protect the environment in which we live.  This has led to the introduction of many "high-tech" products and systems, invariably expensive and often the target for sophisticated interference. Fortunately, there are some practical forms of security, which are very simple, easy-to-use and offer an extremely cost- effective form of protection. Safety requirements for transport and warehousing of goods have been continuously increasing over the last few years. Security seals are the first step towards more safety
 
Security seals play a vital role in national and international safeguards. Security seals, also known as tamper-indicating devices, are meant to leave unambiguous, non-erasable evidence of unauthorised access. 

Safcon’s experience and technical knowledge have led to the development of a unique new range of most reliable security seals which offer a precise solution to many security and protection related problems. By combining the benefits of special materials and security features, together with a clear understanding of a customer's requirements, Safcon security seal technology is unsurpassed.  
 
Safcon’s new range of security seals are simple-to-use, low-cost and offers appropriate seals for every application. For example, all plastic Saflok container seal has been developed as a very low-cost substitute to little expensive metal bolt container seal. No tool is needed for removal. In many cases when bolt container seals are used on vehicle doors, it becomes difficult to remove it on certain sites in absence of proper bolt cutter. The Saflok container barrier seal is specifically designed for trucks, containers, vehicle doors, involved in transportation of raw materials and finished goods. Its carefully researched design includes a serial number on each of the two parts of the seal, which allows for the immediate identification of tampering. Once broken, the seal cannot be glued together or returned to the container. 

Another new from Safcon is cable seal, an inexpensive, self-locking, weather-resistant, high-security seal that requires no tools for installation. It is supplied with a break off screw to secure the cable seal. Standard seals are engraved with codes and sequential numbers to customer’s own requirements. Cable seals are available in, red, green, black, blue, silver and gold, with variable lengths of cable if required. Cable seals are ideal for protecting food, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, petroleum, and wastes in transit, in plant and tank/truck valves. Cable seals are flexible and can be used anywhere/everywhere. The most rugged and barrier metal bolt container seals are impossible to remove without the aid of special 24" bolt cutter. 
 
Other low-cost locking devices included in the new range of seals are Ball-lok, Minitite, Padlock, Pull tight, Hasp-lok, fixed length, Anchor plastic tamper evident security seals, which are most reliable and very cost-effective.

The benefit of low-tech sealing  
An international customer's remark was interesting and useful who said, "All the seal manufacturers are pretty good at coming up with snazzy devices, but many aren't appropriate to our needs. We don't need something that's labour intensive, because our labour's very expensive. We don't want all kinds of electronic doodads. It's like if you needed to go around the corner in your car, and someone offered you a satellite guidance system. They're great device, I marvel at the technology, but we wouldn't use them."  

One guy with 15 jobs  
Security personnel are a good investment. It's very important to have a person dedicated to security. Some of the largest companies don't have this. But even in a downsized security department that consists of "one guy with 15 jobs instead someone solely dedicated to security," it is still worthwhile to keep your eyes open. 
 
When you pass one of your trucks, on occasions check to see what's on it. Remember that 80 percent of all cargo theft is employee-related; they're stealing it themselves or giving out the information to thieves. What's the pay-off for paying attention to the little stuff? So much theft could be prevented by following real simple procedures. Just follow the procedures and you'll eliminate half the crime. 
 
Sealing systems and procedures for shippers 
Seals are tamper-indicating devices used to detect and report unauthorised entry. They provide deterrent against, an indication of, tampering, pilferage and unauthorised entry. Once locked in position, seals cannot be removed except by destructive means and broken seals cannot be reassembled or re-used. Unlike intrusion or burglar alarms, seals report unauthorised entry after the act. They must be inspected to determine if unauthorised access has taken place. A seal does not need to physically resist entry and the purpose of a seal is to reveal evidence of entry. Customised seals with serial numbering and company logo/name must be used to enhance security level. 

An efficient security system not only requires well trained and trustworthy staff but also a highly reliable seal, manufactured by companies who are at the forefront in the fight against cargo tampering and who understand the continually evolving and ever more ingenious methods used by thieves to steal cargo. This calls for continuous cooperation and partnership between the end users and the manufacturers of security seals in order to achieve the desired result, that is, the total integrity of cargo in transit. 

The effectiveness of seals is strongly dependent on the proper and right selection security seals and protocols for using them. These protocols are the official and unofficial procedures used for seal procurement, storage, record keeping, installation, inspection, removal, disposal, reporting, interpreting findings, and training. With a good protocol, a unique security seal procured from professional and reliable manufacturer can provide excellent security. On the other hand, a low-cost commonly available security seal is useless as they can be easily replaced with fake duplicate seal by counterfeiters without any trace.  

Our several years of experience in security seal business has led us to formulate some generic suggestions for optimising the security and reliability of security seals. The following report is designed to educate a seal user in developing the correct systems and procedures in order to stop pilferage and theft. 

Selection of security seal
The most important is to always select the unique design security seal which is not easily available in the market. It must be procured from the professional security seal manufacturer of repute, so that it becomes impossible for counterfeiters to arrange duplicate fake seal for manipulation. Security seal or vendor must not be frequently changed for low price and receiving end/customers must know the type of the security seals used by his supplier.  

If for any reason security seal design or source is changed, it must be informed with photograph to the receiving end so that they can be sure that in transit the security seal has not been replaced with fake seal. If receiving end checks only serial number and security ID, the counterfeiter can manage same serial number other fake security seal. Therefore, it is most essential that receiving end is aware of the seal design used by you. 

Ordering & storage 
One person should only be responsible for buying the protective seals. All security seal orders should originate from the head office or a pre-determined ordering location. The seal manufacturers should be instructed to ship the seals to a specific person's attention of either the head office or another designated location. In addition to consecutive numbering with or without barcode, the company name or initials should be embossed onto each seal to make it absolutely unique. Each terminal or transfer facility should be coded by number and/or colour. 
 
With respect to storage, all seals and security devices should be kept in a controlled area in order to prevent unauthorised people from obtaining them for illegal use. 
 
Outbound recording 
Maintain one logbook for outbound seal recording and a separate log book for inbound seal recording. If the driver is not part of the shippers' organisation, the goods inventory count and the seal application should be made in the presence of the shippers' representative. The driver will note on the bill of loading or on the shipping order the seal number & colour applied of the shippers' dock. 
 
Application 
In order to maintain control over your sealing system, all seals must be properly applied and checked by a security person. Select a proper seal based on destination, value and susceptibility to theft. A high security seal may be required. 
The following procedures for application should be used:  
1. Seal the side as well as the rear doors. 
2. Run the seal strap through the hasp, once. Seals wrapped through the hasp more than once become illegible. 
3. In order to ensure a positive seal, pull the seal strap and twist the section of the seal that was inserted into the locking mechanism. 

Broken seals 
Should it be necessary to break a seal before its arrival of the final destination, the following    information should be recorded, especially at highway weigh stations: 
  • Name of the person breaking the seal
  • Reason for breaking the seal
  • Time and date the seal was broken
  • Serial number of the broken seal
  • Serial number of the replacement seal
  • Names of witnesses to the breaking of the seal

The broken seal report must be filled with the terminal manager and/or the security officer of the outbound terminal, regardless of how far the driver is from the point of origin.

Seal removal and inbound recording  
In order to ensure the integrity of a seal before its removal, a physical check must be made.

The following procedures for seal removal are recommended:  
  • Only authorised security personnel should remove seals.  
  • Enter in the in-bound seal log, the name, serial number and all coding information appearing on the seal. Be sure to verify that it is the original seal from the manifests.
  • Compare the name, serial number and all coding information appearing on the seal with the corresponding shipping papers.
  • Prior to removing the seal, ensure that it has not been shortened or falsely sealed. Check for strange marks and tampering.  
  • Security seals that are inspected visually should be examined with an identical seal held right alongside. Humans do not accurately remember details of exact colour, size, surface texture, and patterns, but they are very proficient at visual side-by-side comparisons.
  • Pull and twist the seal to the left and right to ensure that the seal head has not been violated.
  • Any discrepancy should be reported to the person(s) assigned to accept such statements, as well as recorded in the in-bound seal log.
  • All shipments received with a violated seal must be reported as noted in the previous section and re-sealed if additional transportation is required.
  • Any evidence of theft should be reported to the security department and investigation begun, regardless of the hour. 
Supplementary procedures 
The following steps may be taken to reinforce the seal control program and discourage the would-be pilferers: 
  • Ensure that the fastening devices and hinges securing the door and the locking handles cannot be removed without violating the seal. 
  • Use color-coded seals to differentiate commodities, terminals, warehouses, plants, inbound or out-bound shipments, and time periods. 
  • Use different coloured seals for trailers returning with empty loads in order to prevent drivers from privately utilising trailers on return trips and from transporting cargo without authority. 
  • Periodically change the seal colours to prevent usage of unauthorised old seals. 
  • Companies shipping a trailer load of merchandise within a local area making 2 to 7 stops may secure the trailer with a different coloured seal after each stop. 

High security seal locks 
Conventional metal seals or plastic seals are not always effective. The development of heavy duty, self-locking and serially numbered cable seals or heavy metal bolt container seal locks arose to provide physical security as well as seal integrity.  

The use of high security cable seal locks/heavy metal bolt container seal are recommended in areas like high security shipments; air, water and ground transportation and intermodal shipments; international shipments; and shipping or storing in high crime areas or parked vehicles.   

Either heavy-duty cable or bolt cutters are required to remove high security seal locks. The use of the cutting tools should be carefully controlled. Drivers should not be allowed to carry bolt cutters except for special occasions. 
 
Security seals should be viewed as only one part of an overall security or verification program. In conclusion, it is advisable in the interest of the shippers and the transporters that a system should be immediately adopted for use of appropriate type and variety of the tamper evident and barrier security seals in warehouses and transportation of any cargo irrespective of value in all road transport, courier, train, ship, airfreight, truck, trailer, tractor, wagon cargos to combat with and to substantially reduce cargo theft, pilferage and adulteration. In choosing a seal, it is important to bear in mind that unit cost is not always the most decisive economic factor associated with using a seal, nor is cost necessarily well correlated with the level of security a seal can provide. It is important to choose the right seal with the reliable seal manufacturers. 

About the author
Rajesh Kumar Banka is Managing Director of Safcon Seals Pvt Ltd, Kolkata and has over two decade’s experience in security seal business. Safcon is pioneer and leading manufacturers and exporters of high-performance tamper indicating and barrier security seals. He can be reached on Email: rajesh@safcon.co.in

Share post:

Related Stories