Supply chain security relies on you. See how staying ahead of the curve will help you win against thieves, hackers, and other threats.
Whether a company’s aim is to produce a tangible good or provide a service, the end product only comes about because of connections with suppliers. Without those links, the steady stream of resources needed to produce the goods dries up.
Along with structuring a supply network and keeping it going, there’s the matter of making sure there are no gaps in supply chain security. Is that possible in today’s world? Yes, but it’s no easy feat.
Contemporary Challenges to Supply Chain Management and Security
One of the more troublesome issues for companies is the theft of raw materials while they are on the way to the buyer. A thief with a set of lock cutters can sneak up on the back of a trailer, cut the lock, and engage in an activity known as trailer shopping.
With a flatbed, a van, or some other means of conveyance nearby, it’s relatively easy to sift through the contents of the trailer, grab whatever will fit in the van, and make off with lots of raw materials that unsuspecting buyers can later purchase.
Trailer shopping can also occur once the finished goods get to the buyer’s loading dock. In a matter of minutes, the lock is cut, and a team is busy unloading brand-new television sets into a waiting vehicle. All of those stolen TVs represent clear profit for the thieves since they require little in the way of alteration before being sold to consumers who think they are getting a great deal.
The thieves could be strangers, former employees, or even worse, current workers. They keep loss prevention departments busy in just about any company setting. As it has always been, dealing with employee theft is a big threat to the process of internal logistics and supply chain management.
Security and Intellectual Resources
Consider the case of a customer who orders digital music from a website. The expectation is that the files are readily available upon purchase and that the downloading of those files is secure.
What happens if a hacker intrudes on that download of copyrighted material? The hacker copies the files, then allows the originals to pass on to the buyer. In the meantime, the hacker now has a set of music files to sell for ridiculously low rates.
Ultimately, the seller who follows all the laws can be the one who gets hurt. As the hacker cuts into the market, consumers wanting a bargain will conveniently forget about the possible legal issues involved with downloading at prices too good to be true.
More Delivery Options Than Ever
The fact that business owners have more options than ever for the delivery of raw materials initially seems like a good thing. In reality, these choices can pose problems for managing the supply chain and keeping security tight. That’s because a relatively unknown supplier may or may not take the precautions that a more established supplier does to protect shipments.
Today’s Solutions for Supply Chain Efficiency and Security
While new threats are happening daily, enhanced methods of protecting the supply chain are also appearing. Learning how to use them effectively minimizes the security risk and improves the odds of being able to do business without incurring losses due to interruptions in that chain.
Charles Forsaith, Director of Supply Chain Security at Purdue Pharma, mentioned the concept of tighter driver background checks as one way to deal with possible security threats. The rationale is that applicants with some questionable events in their past can be invited to look for employment elsewhere.
It also helps to look beyond how quickly a supplier can deliver the goods and consider what sort of safeguards are taken to ensure the order arrives on time. How does your company lock trailers? Does the provider carry a reasonable amount of theft and damage coverage?
Don’t overlook the importance of video surveillance. Ideally, the system is motion-activated and uploads the video to a secure cloud location using a real-time connection.
Couple the monitoring with adequate lighting in and around the docks, and the odds of capturing details about the trailer shoppers are much higher.
Vetting employees is also a good move. It’s not just about background checks for truckers or the companies that employ them. The savvy business owner will be mindful of the past histories of employees old and new. Even if someone has worked for the enterprise for years, running a new check every couple of years is never a bad idea.
What About Information Security?
More stringent approaches to information security are an absolute must. That means password changes regularly, controlling who has access to what data, and possibly using face recognition software as a further safety measure. These steps help decrease the potential for the theft of intellectual property.
“Firms are finally beginning to recognize that a determined and well-resourced adversary will find a way to breach their cyber protection regardless of the robustness of their defenses,” said David Ferbrache, Technical Director at KPMG Cybersecurity practice. “This is leading to firms focusing more on the data and systems that are most critical to their operations and how to reduce the risk to those assets.”
The bottom line is that the supply chain processes must involve constant updates to security measures. As thieves come up with new ways to circumvent current protections, additional steps must be put in place, preferably before the new strategies proliferate. Include attention to security in the mix of supply chain management skills, and the odds of keeping theft to a minimum are much better.