Locking out security threats

Once upon a time before long security lines at airports and handling unsolicited mail with latex gloves, locks and seals were intended to keep freight inside a trailer or container. In our brave new, and somewhat unsettling, world, locks and seals have taken on the additional task of keeping intruders (in a rather old-fashioned way, this includes thieves) out of cargo containers.

In the world of potential terror threats, locks and seals must provide not only physical security but proof of cargo safety as well. Many motor carriers report having perfectly acceptable loads refused by receivers because the carrier cannot produce evidence for a continuous chain of custody when a load arrives at destination with a missing or altered seal.

Several new products offer increased security for food products in transit and reduced liability for motor carriers. Cadec Corp, Londonderry, New Hampshire, has recently become the North American distributor for Secureseal, a high-tech cargo container seal first introduced in the United Kingdom in 1997. Secureseal is a reusable mechanical seal that incorporates a random number generator developed with the same technology used for slot machines. When the seal is closed, it generates a random sequence of numbers that are recorded on the delivery manifest. Seal numbers also can be maintained on an Internet program for access by shippers, carriers, and receivers. If the numbers on the seal at delivery do not match the numbers recorded at the load origin, users know that the seal has been opened.

In addition to the reusable seal, Secureseal soon will be able to transmit the time and date of door openings while a trailer is within range of a receiver at a carrier's terminal. Cadec says the next step in transportation security will be to integrate Secureseal's remote communication technology with Cadec Mobius TTS onboard computer and communication systems for real-time cargo monitoring. For more information about Secureseal, visit cadec.com.

Another version of a smart lock is the Supra Trac padlock from the Supra division of GE Interlogix in Salem, Oregon. It is a boron steel lock with an access control system. The lock records when it is opened and closed and which key is used to open it. Data is also stored in the keys. The lock and keys use batteries for power. Simply having a key is not enough to get into a trailer. The key holder must enter a personal identification number as well as insert the key. As a result, lost keys cannot be used to open a lock.

Both the lock and keys have memory capability with the lock recording the last 35 times it was opened or closed. Keys have more robust memory, maintaining a log of up to 270 events. Information can be downloaded by telephone and is available from Supra to authorized users on the Internet. More information about the Supra Trac padlock is available at geindustrial.com/cwc/products/ge-interlogix?id=au_trackpad.

As RFID becomes more integrated into the supply chain, look for new, more capable security products that will aid in making food shipments safer as well as helping insure that perishables arrive on time and in the expected condition.

TAGS: Components
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