Electronic Freight Security: An Intelligent, Proactive Cargo Security Strategy
For manufacturers who ship cargo around the globe, protecting their shipments while in-transit is a major challenge as cargo theft has become much more sophisticated, organized and daring.
Here are a couple of examples of recent thefts that show the widespread impact of cargo theft:1
- In July 2018, a USD $1 million shipment of life-saving medicines for oncological treatments and psychotropic drugs for hospital treatments was stolen in Italy by a military-style organization that had professional tools and held the drivers hostage.
- In March 2018, police arrested a gang in Brazil that was responsible for close to USD $2.6 million a month in sales from stolen polyethylene, steel and copper reels and food. The gang had a warehouse to hold the goods and sold them to companies using false invoices.
To build their stock of stolen goods, the thieves used GPS blockers and jammers to prevent truck tracking. GPS jamming devices, used in conjunction with cellular triangulation technology, is just one of the tactics that innovative and nefarious cargo thieves use. The jamming devices can assist thieves who want to intentionally block, jam, or interfere with wireless communications. Signal jamming devices cannot be purchased legally in the United States, but they can easily be purchased illicitly. In fact, the Federal Communications Commission recently stated that they are going to be intensifying their efforts with law enforcement agencies to crack down on violators.
Other tactics are on the rise as well. For instance, fictitious pickups (FPUs) are used more and more as a way to steal cargo. Cargo thieves arm drivers with fake IDs or devise fictitious businesses to pick up cargo as a way to divert and steal goods. These criminals know how to navigate load boards and effectively target high-value loads. In the second quarter of 2018, there was an over 300% increase in the number of times FPUs were used by thieves in the U.S over the previous quarter, and 130% more than the previous year.2
New threats require new actions
As cargo threats increase, manufacturers, logistics providers and supply chain stakeholders continually look for ways to more securely protect their cargo. This is especially true if the cargo is high-risk or high-value products, like the pharmaceuticals stolen in Italy, or if it travels over dangerous routes, or through known cargo-theft hot spots.
Many companies are opting to add an electronic freight security (EFS) program to their security portfolio. This layered technology can provide real-time, end-to-end monitoring of cargo shipments through sensor-based embedded tracking technology.
EFS programs are considered not only an industry best practice, but they are now also common practice among companies that want to drive a competitive advantage, reduce risk and increase visibility and security. Additionally, depending on the nature of the cargo, some insurance policies require that EFS practices be utilized on high-value products to better protect cargo.
The most effective EFS solutions use technology that works in impaired environments where other GPS devices cannot. For instance, aluminum containers and cargo holds are some of the most challenging environments for regular GPS devices, but not for sophisticated EFS solutions.
How EFS Works
EFS technology is an integral part of global security programs aimed at maintaining supply chain integrity from one end of the chain to the other. This technology ensures that shippers, carriers, drivers and distribution teams secure valuable goods using the latest in security best practices. While these EFS programs are comprehensive, they specifically focus on the highest risk areas of transportation, where the majority of full-trailer load cargo theft occurs.
The best-in-class programs provide covert cargo security that combines EFS technology, which is delivered through embedded devices in the cargo, with sophisticated real-time monitoring services. Real-time location, status and condition data are transmitted via Internet-of-Things (IoT) and assisted-GPS devices and enable critical activity alerts that protect the supply chain and mitigate the risk of cargo theft.
These programs not only enable cargo monitoring, but also provide tracking, reporting and recovery of high-value shipments in transit between manufacturing warehouses and delivery sites. All of this is delivered with the highest attention to security compliance and the management of pre-defined security protocols.