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Security Clogging The Works, Says Signature

The research shows that the terrorist attacks in New York on September 11, 2001, have acted as a catalyst for widespread change in the industry, causing a hardening of security at all points of the supply chain. The research was conducted for Signature by AMR Interactive and involved a series of in-depth, face-to-face interviews with CEOs, Customs Branch and Financial Managers in the freight, transport and logistics industry in Australia and New Zealand. It specifically looked at perceptions of security threats along the supply chain and the measures being taken to counter them. Signature’s group general manager, Chris Hay, said that while the industry fully supported the increased focus on security, the more onerous screening procedures and other measures were increasing costs and causing bottlenecks in the system. “This is nowhere more evident than in supply chain operations, where the real pain is being felt in longer lead times and an increased cost of doing business,” Mr Hay said. “There is also concern that some of the initial reaction from regulators was hasty and fragmented, although more recently there has been a more consultative approach, resulting in solutions that more adequately balance risk against associated costs and resources.” The research said the cost implications of the improved security measures included directs costs such as the customs processing levy, paying for storage while containers are waiting to be scanned and the financial contribution to new government initiatives. There were also the secondary costs such as the additional staff needed to manage the new processes and the extra reporting requirements. Mr Hay said that most in the industry accepted that stricter security was now a cost of doing business but were looking for ways to ensure it didn’t cause further delays to the delivery of cargo to customers. “The solution is not simple,” he said. “It appears that it may lie in a structured blend of security technologies, education, training and accreditation. The security regime that evolves must maintain an acceptable level of efficacy in the supply chain whilst delivering the required level of asset protection required by all. It’s more about an end-to-end solution than about fences and guards.” He said there was a need to ensure that at each stage of the supply chain freight companies were dealing with accredited suppliers. This would streamline the passage of goods through security checking procedures. The research also suggested developing methodologies to distinguish between perceived and actual risk. “With Al Qaeda’s stated aim of focusing attacks on undermining economies with an economic dependence on trade, it’s hard to avoid the realities and consequences of a potential incident ,” Mr Hay said. “However the solution must fit the problem.” Mr Hay emphasised that, while the current strengthening of security at Australia’s airports was a welcome move, it must not occur at the expense of maritime security. He pointed out that Sydney and Melbourne ports alone handle some $A115.5 billion in international and domestic trade every year. So maritime security was a matter of national economic importance and should remain a high priority. A report on the research titled “Security Issues Pertinent to the Freight, Transport & Logistics Industry” is available on request from Signature Security Group.


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