How to secure transportation of cargo

How to secure cargo of risk group during transportation.

As long international trade exists as long cargo security during transportation is necessary. The more advanced means of struggle with cargo thefts the more sophisticated are those who try to steal cargo during transportation and storage.

In Russia, unfortunately, as an inheritance of soviet period and also because of feature of “Russian mentality” and high level of corruption in power structures we have incredibly high level of criminalization in logistic sphere. Everything that as they say “lies bad” is being stolen.

Meat cargoes are not exception; moreover, meat is referred to the “group of risk” because of its high “liquidity” due to high demand and well-organized system of criminal market. At the same time all kinds of meat cargo can be stolen including beef, pork and poultry.

We know one incident when 20 cartons of spinal bacon were stolen from one container. Why did anybody need relatively cheap cargo that is used in sausage production – nobody knows. However it confirms the fact that any kind of cargo can be stolen especially if the measures of thefts prevention haven’t been taken.

According to statistics meat cargo losses amounts about 0,2 % of total quantity if meat imported in Russia. Per year cargo losses amount about 4000 tons of cargo. There is the loss of 10 cartons of cargo in every 87th container.

What market players have to do to protect themselves of such losses? In modern logistics traditional and new means and methods of struggle with thefts are constantly developedand improved.

Below we will enumerate means of cargo security during transportation and analyze in details each of it.

Modern means of cargo security during transportation are:

  • Sealing with various types of seals (plastic and metal, power, cable and wire, self-adhesive seals, power locks for container rods);
  • Photographing of cargo stowage in the container before shipment and on arrival to the destination point;
  • Insurance of cargo;
  • Escort during cargo transportation by armed security guards;
  • Automobile GPS;
  • Survey services;
  • TopGuard event recorder

During cargo transportation by any type of transport whether it container, truck or wagon seals are used. Not so long ago lead seals were used and special sealing device made stamp on such seals. Today disposable numbered self-closing seals are used, they are produced of plastic or metal, can be of various types and configurations. As a rule during transportation of meat cargoes in containers special powered container seals of cylinder form are used. Along with power seals following types of seals are used:plastic and metal tape seals, metal cable seals (for fastening on two container door rods), self-adhesive numbered seals and metal powered locks for container door rods.

Such variety of sealing devices it would seem easy to ensure maximal security of cargo transportation and to secure cargo from thefts. However modern technical means allow criminals to penetrate inside the container without visible seals damage.

How do they manage it? There are some ways that criminals use. In this article we will describe these ways. We would like to notice that all methods described below took place in practice. We are not intending to provide manual for “beginning thiefs” but to tell about ways to ensure security of meat cargo transportations.

So, the first way concerns to seals. Seal can be “prepared” in advance, i.e. in seal’s construction (body) some modifications can be made that will enable to unseal it during cargo transportation without visible damages. Some types of seals can be unsealed without prior preparations but by using both as special technical instruments as simple stapler clips. There is another simple way: seal on container door is not locked completely but just hanged up and slightly closed (visually it looks closed). During transportation or storage obviously it can be easily taken off and then (after theft of cargo) the seal can be locked properly.

The other way is making of similar seals, “clones”or it the other words seals that are analogous or identical to originals by appearance and with the same number. There are known cases about falsification of both plastic seals and railway lock units.

Besides seals there is possibility to open lock unit of container with the seal on it untouched (without unsealing). When container is sealed by power container seal, for example, that is placed on the handle of lock unit, criminals dismantle this handle; but the seal remains closed and container can be opened easily.

There are also known more radical and complicated methods of penetration inside containers such as dismantling of container doors or dismantling of refrigerating plant. These methods seem to us too laborious but technically executable.

It is clear that presence of one or even several seals doesn’t guarantee cargo safety and doesn’t secure from theft. So what happens if criminals entered container and stole cargo but seals remained intact and untouched? In case seals are intact transporter de jure relieves of the responsibility for cargo shortage.

Intact seal is supposed as proof of the fact that container hadn’t been opened during transit or storage at warehouse. If cargo is insured it is reasonable to apply to insurance company but as a rule in presence of intact seals insurer according to insurance contract terms will not consider such incident as insured event. It remains to blame supplier for probable cargo underloading and receive negative answers back. For consignee this situation becomes real problem because to find responsible party in cargo loss is impossible.

Dmitry Vollin deputy director on corporate sales of Saint-Petersburg branch office “ORANTA-Petersburg” of “ORANTA Insurance” company comments this situation:

«In the presence of intact seals in most of cases the insurance company considers cargo loss as underloading and doesn’t admit such shortages as insured event. According to international rules of cargo insuring the risk of underloading doesn’t appear at all. Russian insurance companies sometimes include risks like these but in case of good and long-term cooperation between insurance company and client or in case of attracting of new clients.

This situation is explained by the fact that for legal payment of insurance money (as oversight bodies consider), that are concerned with total or partial cargo loss caused by theft. Insurer needs documents from competent authorities confirming the theft, t.e. illegal actions of the third party had occurred.

Jurisdiction needs proof if violation of the low had happened otherwise they have no reason to institute criminal case and issue proper documents. It’s quite another matter if there is possibility to confirm the fact of theft. In this case insurer will get the compensation.

I know TopGuard and consider that the data of this device can evidence of theft’s fact. It will considerably simplify the dialog between cargo owner and law machinery, and later between insured and insurer. Using this device the insured can reduce the risk of cargo theft orprove the fact of penetration inside the container even in the presence of intact seals, and insurer will decrease net rate and get additional arguments to make regress to party in fault».

Survey services are surely benefit in securing of cargo transportations.

Surveyor’s presence at loading or unloading “disciplines” other participants of logistic process and prevents criminal activity. Moreover surveyor carries out additional sealing and also photographing of cargo in container before and after transportation with the purpose of further comparison of these photographs and determination of the fact of cargo theft.

In modern practice presence of survey report is very often necessary condition to claim the loss. Unfortunately, surveyor is not presenting during transit or storage of cargo in the container so offenders freely steal cargo.

Probably, photographs of cargo stowage in the container before and after transportation can shine a light for stage of theft. We have to disappoint our readers because criminals, as a rule, know that cargo stowage was photographed and steal cargo from the container keeping the stowage visually untouched. For example, they don’t take cargo from the closest to doors row but from middle rows and they try to take so that disposition of upper cartons doesn’t indicate the absence of part of cargo. Thus it turns out that photographing also isn’t panacea though it often helps to show the fact of theft.

GPS installed in truck will surely show all stops during transit of truck with container. However drivers often make both planned (refueling, overnight stops at parking) and unplanned (for example when wheel puncture) stops during transportation. It turns out that GPS doesn’t solve the problem.

Veronika Kurmaeva, manager of import department of “Lux Line” company estimates usage of various technical means for transportation safety: “Presence of GPS helps greatly in transport movement monitoring and also for security of transits. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t solve always the problem of cargo losses (shortages).

Now during transits between cities we use TopGuard event recorder that helps us to reduce considerably the risk of losses”. The last solution is armed escort of container (truck) or column of trucks. This method is not cheap but actually secures cargo from thefts. However high cost for armed escort is mostly applied during transits of high-value goods, to apply this method for meat cargo is not profitable.

For today TopGuard event recorder solves the problem of safety of meat cargo transportation in the best way. This device differs from other technical means for cargo security primarily because it is placed inside the container and records the fact of penetration into the container whatever illegal penetration will be. Per se it is not important which way criminals penetrated inside– we have the proof of the fact and also recorded date and time of that event (penetration).

In the other words: everything that is outside of container can be mechanically exposed. TopGuard being an electronic device with several levels of security guarantees 100% absence of possibility to change data recorded init’s memory. Relatively low cost and simplicity of use had widespreaded the device in meat cargo transportation sphere. Moreover, the device can be used as thermograph and record temperature of the air inside the container. This is necessary term during transportation of both frozen and refrigerated meat cargo.

Among disadvantages of this device should be noted that it doesn’t guarantee cargo security but it certainly detects the fact and the time of illegal penetration. Moreover TopGuard as any technical device for obvious reasons doesn’t protect container with cargo from total container theft. In this situation only rely on insurance company remains in case of cargo is insured.

Denis Davydov, head of logistic department of trading company “Radinko” tells his opinion on work of the device:

Our company is a wholesale trader of meat products. Topframe provides us survey services and we also use their TopGuard devices. The policy of our company includes constant monitoring of all innovations (also in logistic sphere) with the purpose of optimization of costs for cargo transportation and protection. We have made statistics on cargo losses for the cases when we applied TopGuard device and when we didn’t and we can conclude that with the help of TopGuard we had saved 12 tonnes of cargo in 2010. Cargo losses without this device would cost much more than expenses for TopGuard service.

What recommendations can we give to cargo owners and transporters to secure cargo? It is hard to imagine that in the near future minimization or even liquidation of stealing on transport is possible. Obviously none of measures that had been enumerated above provides cargo security of thefts. Only choice of proper approach to each concrete case can considerably reduce or completely prevent risks of cargo loss during transportation and storage.

Written by: Evgeny Novikov

TopFrame Ltd.