Disruption to global supply chains over recent months has highlighted how essential logistics are to modern life.
The efficient supply of goods and materials underpins every aspect the global economy and this efficiency has been raised to impressive levels by the integration of systems, technology, people and processes..
We all now benefit from highly integrated networks linking producers and consumers through multiple transportation modes – air and express delivery services, rail, maritime and road – right down to the last mile.
But with complexity comes vulnerability, even from basic causes.
In the UK for example something apparently simple, that should have been predictable, has led to major disruption: a shortage of qualified drivers.
Sector-specific and local factors have been blamed, including an exodus of foreign drivers after Brexit, inadequate pay and facilities for long distance drivers, lack of status and recognition, and a testing backlog caused by Covid restrictions.
But these problems are not unique to the UK. For example, according to data collected by Transport Intelligence, Poland was short of more than 120,000 drivers last year, while in Germany between 45,000 and 60,000 were needed.
So in almost every developed economy there is pressure on organisations to operate more efficiently and to automate systems – but to do it in a way that is also resilient, and that reduces rather than increases vulnerability.
The logistics sector has long faced big challenges from crime, with each link in each supply chain a point of potential risk from low level opportunist theft, steal-to-order organised gangs, internal fraud, cybersecurity threats, people trafficking and general crime.
In Europe, most cargo theft (i.e. from trucks) is thought to be perpetrated by small-time gangs and low-level crime groups not linked to major syndicates. Recent estimates by the UK Home Office put annual losses at £250 million (€290m).
So it’s hardly surprising, given the risks faced, that this is a highly standards-driven sector.
TAPA (the Transported Asset Protection Association) has grown into a leading influencer over the last two decades. Its work in risk monitoring, threat intelligence sharing, training, and security standards accreditation is helping build resilience among over 700 member companies and, through them, across global supply chains.
Recognising that cargo crime is one of the biggest supply chain challenges, particularly for higher value products, TAPA’s FSR (Facility Security Requirements) were developed as common global minimum standards for secure warehousing and in-transit storage (separate Trucking Security Requirements cover transportation by road).
Successful implementation of the TAPA standards depends on logistics services providers, buyers and auditors working together and robust oversight systems to manage people are essential at every stage.
Many of these challenges are the focus of the solutions that we specialise in: integrating security infrastructure with people management and sector-specific systems that are designed to streamline operations and drive efficiency.
Over recent years we’ve been closely involved with some major logistics operators developing seamless single platform solutions that are more efficient than stand-alone, siloed systems.
And we have seen first hand how important efficient, seamless operating systems are in making sites more secure and collaboration between parties easier.
We have implemented solutions combining ANPR with door access, with customer invites scheduled using Microsoft Outlook providing visitors with secure QR codes and relevant wayfinding information.
This digitisation is making it easier for authorised customers, auditors, contractors to gain access to secure warehouses, and making it harder for criminals to exploit loopholes that are inevitable with inefficient paper-based or siloed systems.
At each stage, as a customer or other visitor is granted access – from parking to secure area entry – the host is notified by email. This allows the host to welcome each visitor personally in the reception area, reducing pressure on reception staff at busy times and allowing a better arrivals experience for the guest. Reception staff also monitor all visitors on and off site as an additional layer of security using an intuitive web interface, and can support visitors as required.
And a new generation of integrated solution, operated from the Quanika Enterprise interface, offers seamless connectivity with existing perimeter detection cameras, intruder, detection and fire systems. It significantly enhances visibility and control of access and related on-site activity, with intuitive maps, easily searched audit trails, and a dashboard providing the real-time status of doors, controllers, batteries including system health monitoring.
The result is that senior security and ops managers can handle all site control tasks through one platform that includes viewing cameras, monitoring doors and communicating through audio devices.
Together, secure visitor management and access for staff, plus increased situational awareness across warehousing sites, delivers many benefits.
Looking ahead, and helping logistics suppliers go further, we are now developing practical digitization solutions for loading bays, with automated recording of driver check-in to replace labour-intensive paper systems.