„Security is a question of communication “

Security in logistics is also an important topic in these times. According to the TAPA Association (TAPA stands for Transported Asset Protection Association), in February 2021, products worth €4.1 million were stolen in Europe, Middle East, and Africa in recent months. The association’s conclusion: “Cargo thieves were not deterred by the ongoing restrictions in the wake of the Covid pandemic, nor by the difficult weather conditions in some countries.”

A tight cargo network ensures safety

However, companies like DB Schenker are immune to a fair share of criminal acts: tarpaulin slashers, for example, empty the cargo at rest stops. However, the logistics service provider operates a tightly meshed general cargo network. And thanks to the spatial density of its hubs, travel times are too short for risky stops at rest stops. “We have the advantage of fast turnaround times and high volumes of shipments – which leads to anonymity and speed,” explains Jürn Börstinghaus, who is responsible for security at DB Schenker.

Jürn Börstinghaus, Security Manager at DB Schenker

“The right way to increase security is to continuously raise the security level in a company, combined with strict monitoring”

However, the situation is different for transports outside the network: Here, it all comes down to the security measures agreed in advance in each case. “Some customers require special security measures,” says Börstinghaus. DB Schenker ensures this through standard GPS tracking, DB Smartboxes, or sophisticated security concepts. “For certain types of products – for example, consumer electronics – customers expect the highest security and take a close look at our on-site measures.” Some facilities are therefore TAPA-certified and have an exceptionally high level of security. “The TAPA Facility Security Requirements define various security levels. These involve certain quality levels, for example, in the video or intrusion system or in our security processes,” Börstinghaus explains.

Standards and automation

DB Schenker has also set up its minimum security standards, which apply in all business locations worldwide. Börstinghaus conveys these standards in Germany and ensures that sites are certified. Since September 2019, the 34-year-old captain in the reserves has been working at DB Schenker. He acquired the necessary skills through an MBA Security Management at TH Ingolstadt.
“The right way to increase security is to continuously raise the security level in a company, combined with strict monitoring,” says Börstinghaus. In doing so, the logistics company also takes advantage of digitization. “Many individual steps, for example the current condition of the seals, are now more secure and better documented because they have been integrated into the automated processes in the business locations. It doesn’t work any other way,” says the security expert. Transports could become even more secure if this digital documentation is analyzed with artificial intelligence in the future.

Control over IT interfaces

However, security in logistics goes far beyond mere transport security. It is also a question of IT, which plays a significant role in product piracy, for example. Supply chains often bring together many different parties, yet no one is allowed to penetrate the IT processes. “It is important for us to control the interfaces. That way, we avoid situations where perpetrators can put counterfeit products into circulation,” says Börstinghaus. He is currently noticing an increasing awareness for more cybersecurity throughout the industry.
And finally, the human factor is also essential: Especially in an industry that relies on qualified employees, they can become the weakest link in the chain. In some areas, such as air freight or other safety-relevant areas, employees are subject to special inspections. Since DB Schenker is an authorized economic operator – the status facilitates trade with the USA – partners must guarantee the safety of their employees in writing.

Smart information flow

As a matter of principle, DB Schenker works on what is known as a need-to-know basis: “Employees only receive the information that is directly relevant to them and their work,” explains Börstinghaus. “In this way, unauthorized persons have no access to information about our freight.”

“Certified facilities, secure IT interfaces, Smartboxes and other measures: This is how DB Schenker ensures security in logistics. #dbschenker“

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With such measures and basic concepts, DB Schenker can minimize damages as much as possible. “Our processes and the interlocking of processes make us a very, very safe company,” says Börstinghaus. However, two other things are part of a well-thought-out security management system: short paths in the event of damage and, above all, the exchange of information about damage and the perpetrators’ approaches. “Security is primarily a question of communication,” says Börstinghaus. “We can only fight effectively against what we know.”

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