A new security standard and certification program for trucking could help motor carriers and shippers close one of the biggest remaining gaps in supply chain security — what happens to cargo once it leaves secure locations on board a truck.
The Transported Assets Protection Association released an updated version of its Trucking Security Requirements and established the first certification program of its kind for truckers and logistics companies to help fight cargo theft on highways.
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The new requirements, which take effect Jan. 1, and certification program are voluntary measures for trucking companies and logistics operators to improve security and demonstrate their commitment and ability to prevent theft. They provide a blueprint companies can follow to tighten security not just in the U.S. and North America but also worldwide. What’s more, the standards were developed with the assistance of trucking and logistics operators such as National Retail Systems of Hasbrouck Heights, N.J., and AFC Worldwide Express of Kennesaw, Ga.
John Tabor, director of corporate security at NRS, joined TAPA Americas’ board of directors.
The program is aimed at transporters of high-value goods, including electronics and pharmaceuticals, clothing and luxury items. Truck theft accounts for about $10 billion in cargo losses worldwide each year, according to TAPA. The global organization estimates trucks are the targets in 85 percent of cargo theft.
It’s pretty easy to see why, said Alan Spear, chair of TAPA Americas. “If I’m a cargo thief and I’m sitting outside of a warehouse, I’m looking at lights and fences, guards and walls and barbed wire and alarm systems. That’s all pretty intimidating. You have to do a whole lot of planning and thinking before attempting something.
“But, let’s say I’m looking at a truck with one driver who pulls into a truck stop, parks the vehicle and goes inside. All I have to do is defeat the truck,” Spear said.
The trucking industry avoided most of the security mandates imposed on the maritime, rail and aviation industries after the September 11 attacks. Truck drivers have borne the brunt of security requirements in background checks and tighter monitoring, much of which is as much a concern in highway safety as supply chain security.
Many trucking companies have come up with security plans for terminals and processes to safeguard freight in motion to deter or foil terrorists and thieves. But trucks spend most of their time on the road, alone, and that makes them vulnerable.
In the U.S., most truck cargo theft occurs when vehicles are unattended, Spear said.
The new Trucking Security Requirements updates standards first released in 2006 and last updated in 2008. The requirements provide for three levels of security, depending on the value of the cargo: TSR 1, 2 and 3.
“TSR 1 is the strongest level,” Spear said. “It would be used for the most valuable and vulnerable cargo.” For example, all three levels require trucks to have two-way communications systems. Only TSR 1 requires carriers to have detailed trailer-tracking protocols and the ability to “geofence” routes and parking areas, or hardened steel security devices with built-in locks affixed to all doors rather than padlocks or chains or other devices.
TSR 1 also requires the installation of covert tracking devices in the tractor and in the trailer. Roof-mounted tracking devices can be disconnected or destroyed, but covert devices installed inside a container or hidden in the truck cab are harder to defeat, Spear said.
“We have a lot of security tools that are vastly superior to what we had just 10 years ago,” he said, “for example, covert tracking technology that will fit inside a small bottle inside a package that’s inside a shipment loaded onto a truck.”
Carriers, forwarders and logistics companies will receive TAPA Americas certification once an independent auditor determines they meet the TSR requirements.
“We’re hoping that carriers will see this certification as something that adds value for their customers,” Spear said. “They’ll be able to say they’re TAPA-certified and that gives carriers and shippers an opportunity to benchmark.”
The association, which has more than 700 members including manufacturers, logistics companies, transporters, insurers and security personnel, is preparing to train its first group of TSR auditors at AFC Worldwide in December. Those professionals will begin conducting audits in January, Spear said.
More information on the TAPA requirements and certification program is available on the association’s Web site, http://tapaonline.org.