Magazine Article | October 7, 2010

Determining Security Capabilities Of Ground Transportation Companies

Source: Life Science Leader

By Eric Kinaitis

When analyzing a transportation company regarding its capabilities to keep cargo safe from theft there are a variety of questions a decision-maker should ask to effectively measure the carrier’s security skills. Although some points are particular to ground transportation in the United States, much of the advice is broad enough to be a best practice to be pursued, regardless of location or mode.

Security Team:
Does the transportation provider have a dedicated security team and resources available 24 hours a day? Some providers may not have the available manpower or expertise to provide this service level. The carrier’s inability to provide this is a clear area of concern for a potential shipper.

Security Plan And Contingencies:
Make sure your transportation provider has a security plan and SOPs in place to deal with any needed security levels your shipment requires. Are drivers handling secure shipments appropriately trained in those protocols? Can you audit the transportation provider’s security records to analyze their SOP for security?

Ask the following questions:

  • What is the carrier’s response if your shipment’s vehicle breaks down?
  • Will they dispatch another vehicle immediately to pick up your cargo and continue with the transit?
  • If so, is that vehicle’s driver trained in the security protocol?
  • Are there processes in place to notify you of such service disruptions?
  • Are there procedures in place to move the vehicle to a “safe parking” environment where a cargo transfer could be done securely?

A “Safe Parking” Program:
In some cases, the vehicle transporting your shipment will need to stop. In such instances, does your transportation provider have a “safe parking” program? Ideally, a vehicle would be parked within an enclosed facility. Additionally, the facility would be fenced off with at least chain-link fencing topped with barbed wire, monitored by closed-circuit TV, have a locked gate, and a security guard on duty 24/7.

Security Technology, Backup Systems:
Does the carrier have security technology such as satellite tracking of the vehicle, an electronic alert button (a button that alerts the transportation company of an emergency), or other such efforts?
Additionally, do backup systems and protocols exist if such technology fails? For example, ensuring a driver has a cell phone turned on can ensure contact if their satellite tracking malfunctions.

Relationships With Law Enforcement:
Is your transportation provider aware of criminal activity risks within select areas? This knowledge is not only relevant to the immediate area where the pickup or delivery is occurring, but for the regional area as well. Portions of select metropolitan areas throughout the world are known high-risk locales for cargo theft and vehicle hijackings. Does your transportation provider have the insight to route around such areas?

What types of background checks occur on the driver(s) handling your shipment? Are they checked on an annual or semi-annual basis? What is the depth of the background check?

For a ground shipment, will your cargo be on a truck that has a solo driver or a team? When a shipment needs to travel a longer distance, a solo driver needs to stop and rest. A truck is at its most vulnerable for cargo theft when it is stopped. Having a driver team for long-distance travel minimizes vehicle stops and therefore minimizes theft risk.

Shipment Visibility:
Can you track your cargo online? Seeing where your cargo is as it progresses through the supply chain is important in maintaining your shipment’s security.

Appropriate Pickup And Delivery:
This factor is equally contingent upon the business hiring the carrier as it is on the carrier itself. A truck hauling your shipment is at its most secure when it remains in motion. When a truck becomes a “warehouse on wheels” parked somewhere with your shipment on board, there is a greater theft risk.

Eric Kinaitis has been a market analyst for FedEx for three years. He has 20 years of marketing research experience and has provided analysis and insight on numerous industry segments (B2C- or B2B-oriented) concerning best-in-practice standards and guidance.