Don’t let your merchandise out of your sight, even when it’s left the warehouse
Until recently, warehouses were seen as a separate entity in the overall supply chain; merely a repository for merchandise storage before it was moved onto its final destination. Now retailers and other businesses have realised that by integrating the warehouse and freight transport into the greater supply chain, they can reap the benefits of enhanced inventory management, better loss prevention and shrinkage protection.
When it comes to transporting merchandise between warehouse and retail destination, merely tracking the movement of trucks is no longer enough, and companies are having to rely on armed escorts and the implementation of smarter security technology to get their freight to its destination. Despite additional security measures, there are still syndicates that outsmart these technologies and additional measures while in transit. In addition to merchandise being at risk during transport, these goods are also vulnerable in the warehouses while waiting for collection.
Securing the goods inside and outside the warehouse
The main risks in warehousing and freight transport are theft, loss and mishandled goods. However, the transportation of goods continues to be one of the most critical areas of vulnerability. While systems can be placed both in the vehicle and the warehouse exit and entry points, their effectiveness depends on the implementation and strict controlling measures to ensure the integrity of the system.
Inside the warehouse environment security can be enhanced through the use of Ultra-High Definition (UHD or “4K”) IP cameras, which offer better resolution and more detail. Because of the high video resolution of these 4k cameras, fewer of them are required to monitor a larger area, which means fewer cameras to manage, fewer network points and less of a drain on bandwidth and storage. This is largely due to the fact that these cameras are capable of adaptive video streaming, which allows for recording of the video at 4k resolution but allows for viewing at resolutions that meet the viewer’s requirements. These cameras have even evolved to the point where it’s now possible to use them for visual monitoring and verification of merchandise. For example, in a warehouse where goods are picked from the shelves and placed in a cage ready for transport collection, by using a 4K camera, an operator can visually ascertain whether the correct number of crates or boxes were loaded from the warehouse.
Keep your eyes on the goods at all times with remote live CCTV monitoring
Using these 4K cameras and the associated video recorder management applications it is possible to monitor the merchandise all the way from the warehouse, until it reaches its end destination. Each situation is different but, for example, by utilising closed body trucks the freight is not as exposed to the risk of theft. A closed body truck can be monitored, using a mobile DVR and cameras which can monitor what is going on inside the truck, as well as provide visual verification that the correct goods were loaded into and off the truck.
Such a mobile video recording and transmission system also ensures that the load is secure during its journey as an alarm is sent to the control centre with video verification in the event that the load bay door is opened. Once the goods have reached their destination, footage from the mobile DVR’s cameras could be used to conduct an external visual inspection to make sure that the load doors are still sealed (this verifies integrity of load). A main gate interlocking system could also be implemented here whereby access is given to the control centre operator (not the guard at the gate) and the driver vehicle and guard would be recorded as they enter and exit the premises. While this can be time consuming, it enables the goods to be tracked along every meter of the journey with visual verification of any intrusion or collusion between parties.
Where bandwidth availability is an issue, the same technology that is used for cash-in-transit vans could also have application in freight transport. Such a system is effective in its simplicity as it enables remote monitoring of the vehicle making use of GSM networks with bandwidth requirements as low as 8kpbs. Using cellular and wireless technology, live video is streamed (and recorded) from vehicles to a remote control centre.
Despite the fact that warehouse and freight security has long been overlooked, it’s undeniably important to focus more attention on the integrity of the supply chain at this point. By securing the goods in transport and storage in a simple, visual way, retailers will be able to see the positive impact on security, in the elimination of theft, loss and damage of valuable goods.
By Laurence Smith, Executive Graphic Images Technologies.
Biden establishes Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force
The US government is to establish a new body with the express purpose of addressing imbalances and other supply chain concerns highlighted in a review of the sector, ordered by President Joe Biden shortly after his inauguration.
The Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force will “focus on areas where a mismatch between supply and demand has been evident,” the White House said. The division will be headed up by the Secretaries of Commerce, Transportation, and Agriculture, and will focus on housing construction, transportation, agriculture and food, and semiconductors - a drastic shortage of which has hit some of the US economy’s biggest industries in consumer technology and vehicle manufacturing.
“The Task Force will bring the full capacity of the federal government to address near-term supply/demand mismatches. It will convene stakeholders to diagnose problems and surface solutions - large and small, public or private - that could help alleviate bottlenecks and supply constraints,” the White House said.
In late February, President Biden ordered a 100 day review of the supply chain across the key areas of medicine, raw materials and agriculture, the findings of which were released this week. While the COVID-19 health crisis had a deleterious effect on the nation’s supply chain, the published assessment of findings says the root cause runs much deeper. The review concludes that “decades of underinvestment”, alongside public policy choices that favour quarterly results and short-term solutions, have left the system “fragile”.
In response, the administration aims to address four key issues head on, strengthening its position in health and medicine, sustainable and alternative energy, critical mineral mining and processing, and computer chips.
Support domestic production of critical medicines
- A syndicate of public and private entities will jointly work towards manufacturing and onshoring of essential medical suppliers, beginning with a list of 50-100 “critical drugs” defined by the Food and Drug Administration.
- The consortium will be led by the Department of Health and Human Services, which will commit an initial $60m towards the development of a “novel platform technologies to increase domestic manufacturing capacity for API”.
- The aim is to increase domestic production and reduce the reliance upon global supply chains, particularly with regards to medications in short supply.
Secure an end-to-end domestic supply chain for advanced batteries
- The Department of Energy will publish a ‘National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries’, beginning a 10 year plan to "develop a domestic lithium battery supply chain that combats the climate crisis by creating good-paying clean energy jobs across America”.
- The effort will leverage billions in funding “to finance key strategic areas of development and fill deficits in the domestic supply chain capacity”.
Invest in sustainable domestic and international production and processing of critical minerals
- An interdepartmental group will be established by the Department of Interior to identify sites where critical minerals can be produced and processed within US borders. It will collaborate with businesses, states, tribal nations and stockholders to “expand sustainable, responsible critical minerals production and processing in the United States”.
- The group will also identify where regulations may need to be updated to ensure new mining and processing “meets strong standards”.
Partner with industry, allies, and partners to address semiconductor shortages
- The Department of Commerce will increase its partnership with industry to support further investment in R&D and production of semiconductor chips. The White House says its aim will be to “facilitate information flow between semiconductor producers and suppliers and end-users”, improving transparency and data sharing.
- Enhanced relationships with foreign allies, including Japan and South Korea will also be strengthened with the express proposed of increasing chip output, promoting further investment in the sector and “to promote fair semiconductor chip allocations”.