Security Through Software
Supply-chain security can be segmented into two buckets: government compliance and internal risk assessment. Software can help with both.
Governments have instituted security-related shipment regulations, such as the Importer Security Filing and Additional Carrier Requirements (commonly known as “10+2”) in the U.S., which requires ocean carriers to forward information to U.S. Customs 24 hours before cargo is loaded. The Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), a voluntary program which allows participating shippers expedited treatment of their freight, requires an extensive compliance program.
The World Customs Organization adopted a new framework last year endorsed by 180 countries. “That means that practically every country in the world will implement security filing programs that will require information from carriers, forwarders, importers and exporters,” says Jos Nuijten, vice president for Network Integration Strategy at Descartes.
Besides government programs, companies need insights into supply-chain risk to keep shipments running smoothly and to minimize shrinkage. “Risk is predictive,” says Dan Purtell, a senior vice president at BSI Supply Chain Solutions. “It shouldn’t come as a surprise.”
“Paying attention to supply-chain security involves implementing good business practices,” adds Karen Lobdell, director of Global Solutions at Integration Point.
Programs like C-TPAT require importers to query their suppliers as part of a supply-chain security self-assessment. “Our system publishes questionnaires to suppliers, collects their responses and memorializes the information,” says Ty Bordner, vice president of Solutions Consulting at Amber Road. “The software also screens names against companies blacklisted by world governments and identifies security concerns before an order is accepted.”
QuestaWeb developed a technology platform that provides users with visibility into their supply chains, so that they can manage by exception. “Our software interfaces with enterprise systems to automatically create checks and documents and give users visibility on a daily basis on how their products are moving around the world,” says Wayne Slossberg, the company’s vice president of Sales. “It automates the entire procedure and the user is sent an alert only when there is an issue.”
Descartes helps companies with their U.S. Customs filings by extracting data from enterprise systems and automatically formatting it to the specifications of government agencies. “In the European Union alone, there are 20 different required messaging formats,” says Nuijten. “It’s impossible to do it yourself.”
Integration Point has expanded software developed to automate compliance with C-TPAT into a risk-assessment tool for business-partner management. “The tool allows users to automate what is usually an administrative chore to identify vulnerabilities with business partners so that they can understand the biggest potentials for risk,” says Lobdell.
BSI provides a supply-chain intelligence system with analysis on 203 countries around the world and 22 proprietary security indicators. “These indicators look at factors such as cargo theft, smuggling and terrorism,” says Purtell. “Companies use this to assess risk and to develop procurement strategies.”