Friday, January 29, 2010

US Truck Boss Tells How To Reduce Freight Theft

Security Director of Schneider National Gives Advice
Shipping News Feature

USA – Anyone involved in the freight industry, wherever they may be, knows the problems that theft from shipments pose to them by causing increased costs due to either increased insurance premiums on their cargoes or else the loss of custom as clients lose faith in a providers ability to deliver their goods intact and in good order.

With the current financial climate as it is the problem of theft is more chronic than ever, with statistics for the US indicating that freight crime has increased by 12 percent in 2009 after a 13 percent rise in 2008.

However, in spite of this across-the-board increase, American logistics and transportation supplier Schneider National have actually managed to drastically reduce their losses from theft.

In a Q&A session with the Handy Shipping Guide Walt Fountain, Director of Loss Prevention and Enterprise Security for Schneider National, explained how the company has managed to achieve this cut.

How much has Schneider National managed to reduce its theft margins over the last few years?

Schneider National reduced cargo thefts by 22% in 2007, 31% in 2008, and 76% in 2009.

What measures has Schneider implemented to create this reduction?

1. Load definition: Created a clear recognition of risk – all parties involved in mitigation

2. Coordination: Reduced the amount of time that “freight is at rest” by ensuring relays are tightly planned and only at secure locations. Also increased the use of “expedited team” drivers to keep loads moving.

3. Communication: Established a clarity of expectations for driver associates

4. Barriers: Made greater use of physical barriers such as: Back against building or pole to prevent rear doors from opening, and when shipping intermodal, have containers put in bottom position on lower well cars so thieves can’t open the doors

5. In General: We built our program upon a foundation of a strong culture of security, focused internal operational synchronization, and full coordination of actions with our business partners.

Are their any particular commodities that are favoured by thieves and if so are there any additional techniques / technologies that have been instituted to protect them?

The thieves will steal anything but the more organized and deliberate crews target consumer electronics, pharmaceuticals, tobacco products, and alcoholic beverages. Schneider handles all of these shipments as high value and institutes extra procedures to help our driver associates maintain full control of these loads throughout their movement. Schneider has also worked with interested shippers to imbed covert tracking devices within their loads, which helps us in rapidly identifying any anomaly with the load.

Have thieves themselves shown adaption to new technologies that can assist their crimes?

Primarily, the thieves can show a high level of persistence and patience. It is not uncommon for a crew to work 3 – 4 weeks to orchestrate a high value theft. From a technology perspective, we have seen a troubling trend of the thieves to attack on-line brokerage activities to fraudulently take control of brokered freight. On the lower end of technology, a battery operated reciprocating saw can rapidly defeat many locking devices.

What future measures is Schneider planning to further combat freight crime?

Schneider is expanding our ability to provide expedited team freight services and is working with our rail carrier partners to improve the security of freight travelling by rail.

Do you have any particular pieces of advice that you think would benefit those reading who are involved in the freight/logistics industries?

You must synchronize your actions and those of your business partners and service providers. By regularly bringing your team together (physically or virtually) to examine the effectiveness of the security measures that everyone in the supply chain is employing, it ensures that one’s actions are not inadvertently affecting someone else’s actions.

From the discussion with Mr Fountain it is clear that one of the basic premises Schneider made when embarking on a review of security measures was communication. What appears to be commonsense with hindsight can be used to anticipate so many of the thefts which occur to freight en route simply by explaining set routines and procedures to all staff and contractors involved, as well as good liaison with the authorities.

(pic: Walt Fountain)