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About the Author

Cliff Holste is Supply Chain Digest's Material Handling Editor. With more than 30 years experience in designing and implementing material handling and order picking systems in distribution, Holste has worked with dozens of large and smaller companies to improve distribution performance.

Logistics News

By Cliff Holste

May 29, 2013

The New Age Of Security Awareness

Protecting the Supply Chain against 4 Common Threats

In recent years security concerns have become a serious issue for logistics companies. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, employee theft now costs companies more that $40 billion a year! That is a huge number and it’s growing. Companies with a global reach must also pay close attention to the security of their supply chain as the frequency of cyber attacks abroad and domestically is increasing to the point where it is no longer news worthy.

The logistics security issue is broad in scope affecting both small and large companies as well as consumers who ultimately bear the cost. According to industry experts, a properly deployed security plan must address and protect the company against four common threats: theft, terrorism, piracy and physical disaster.

A comprehensive plan would include the following:

Holste Says:

The logistics security issue is broad in scope affecting both small and large companies as well as consumers who ultimately bear the cost.
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  • Credentialing all personnel involved in the supply chain
  • Trading partner security extending to both suppliers and customers
  • Employee security awareness
  • Screening cargo contents
  • Security of inventory while in-transit through use of tamper-proof containers, seals and locks
  • Tracking of inventory while in-transit through use of technology enablers such as a global positioning system (GPS) and RFID
  • Security of items while stored in a facility
  • Information security
  • Disaster planning and emergency response
  • Adherence to national and international standards

Supply chain security starts with an organization’s developing a security awareness culture. Colonel Alan B. Will, Chief of Staff, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (who can be consulted at ) recommends that employees at all levels should be educated on potential threats to the supply chain and provided the means to counter these threats. Conversely, organizations should solicit input from employees on vulnerabilities they see. Periodic security inspections should be conducted to ensure all within an organization are in compliance with security measures.

The Colonel makes a very important point when he says, “A supply chain security plan should not adversely affect movement of materials through the supply chain”. He goes on to say that coordination of all agencies within the supply chain is a must and all links in the chain must be part of the security plan. Companies must share information such as cargo movement schedules and manifests, yet protect this information from access by the wrong people.


Adoption of Appropriate Information Technology

IT, including GPS, can be a real enabler by providing accurate real-time information on movement of materials and the integrity of shipments at various venues. It can also reduce the need for an army of surveillance personnel.

There are several sources logistics companies can search for supply chain security initiatives and standards including:

  • U.S. Customs Service and Department of Homeland Security Container Security Initiative (CSI)
  • The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 28000: 2007 supply chain security standards
  • Private firm pilot initiatives monitoring container movement and integrity with RFID and GPS technology.

Final Thoughts

While there are no easy answers or quick-fixes to security issues, vulnerability awareness is at the very lease a starting point. A well-coordinated and effective effort protecting our supply chains is a cost that service providers must bear in an effort to protect their customers from escalating non-value-added cost.

Recent Feedback

With security a serious concern for logistics and supply chain service providers, the plan you detailed would work good for crime prevention. When goods are stored in warehouses, they are prone to both internal as well as external thefts. External thefts refer to robberies carried out by outsiders where as internal theft refers to employee theft. Apart from inventory theft, there is also an issue of damage to the inventory due to mshandling by the staff.

This can be avoided by availing e-surveillance for warehouses. More and more business managers are investing in surveillance to boost the level of security as well as optimize the overall operations. This will give businesses actionable insights. 


Sahib Singh
Product Expert
Oct, 13 2016