VOL. 127 | NO. 33 | Friday, February 17, 2012
By Bill Dries
One of the legacies of the 9/11 terrorist attacks a decade ago was a tightening of security in supply chain and logistics businesses.
Shipping containers are loaded onto rail cars at the Canadian National Railroad intermodal yard. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, security for logistics companies has become a much bigger concern.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)
That means knowing who is handling the cargo at all times, where it is going, why it is being shipped and who is receiving it. The tightening has evolved in that time to a move toward self-regulation among logistics and supply chain companies with an international reach.
Dunavant Global Logistics Group LLC was certified this month as part of the U.S. Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program, also known as C-TPAT.
It is administered by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection service, which is part of the federal Department of Homeland Security.
“The intent is to make sure that every piece of the supply chain basically for a customer’s cargo is secure,” said Karen Hjerpe, Dunavant’s director of global operations and compliance. “It makes it possible for us to provide more secure and efficient supply chain process for customers.”
C-TPAT was launched within a year after the terrorist attacks with seven importers in the original group. The voluntary certification was partially a reaction to concerns from importers who saw increased delays at the U.S. borders because of heightened security measures.
The security measures were a reaction to a fundamental and sudden shift in philosophy for logistics customers who were accustomed to few questions about what was going where and why.
“After 9/11, those days were completely gone,” Hjerpe said.
The network’s goal is to speed shipments of those in the network with guarantees that security measures further up the chain are catching potential threats or lapses in security earlier. That means more extensive security measures at the border and the delays they can cause aren’t necessary for those in the C-TPAT network.
Other companies that are part of C-TPAT include Old Dominion Freight Line Inc., which has a major inter-regional hub service center in Memphis.
“A lot of it we were doing, but then a lot of it is added steps as well,” Hjerpe said. “It’s more process-oriented visibility on who we’re doing business with today, who our business partners are, who our customers are, who our employees are. It’s looking at every process and every step that we have to make sure everything we do is in the most secure and effective manner possible.”
Dunavant undertook meeting the standards in-house with its own team.
“The government gives us their regulations or their standards and guidelines,” Hjerpe said. “Then we build or put together a security program based on those guidelines.”
In a year, Dunavant’s standards will be reviewed with an onsite visit to determine if the measures remain adequate.
“Our security self-assessment process ensures that every aspect of our operation will be verified, documented, reviewed and updated as we continue to grow,” said Richard McDuffie, Dunavant’s chief operating officer.
Memphis-based FedEx Express joined the program in November 2002.
FedEx Trade Networks offers audit services to companies that might meet the C-TPAT standards and does periodic audits to spot problems that could lead the certification to be suspended. It also helps companies revamp cargo security procedures to get the certification.
Mallory Alexander International Logistics also offers C-TPAT consulting and educational services including customized plans and a preparation course for validation day when the U.S. Customs validation team visits a company.
By 2008, C-TPAT had 8,200 certified partners like Dunavant who accounted for half of the value of what is imported into the United States.
The Customs and Border Protection Service has been working to extend the standards to other countries through mutual recognition agreements. The first agreement was with New Zealand in 2007.