What is Supply Chain Security?

Shannon Philpott

Supply chain security involves the overall protection of the transportation of cargo worldwide. It is managed by several organizations worldwide, including the World Customs Organization, the Customs Trade Partnership against Terrorism, and the US Customs and Border Protection led by the Department of Homeland Security. These organizations work to ensure that cargo is transported legally and safely to eliminate threats of theft, terrorism, and piracy. Supply chain security includes preset security requirements to protect each country’s supply chain.

An illustration of a supply chain.
An illustration of a supply chain.

Generally, supply chain security requires transporters to abide by shipping requirements of each country. Participants of transportation must be credentialed by a supply chain organization. This type of security also promotes screening and inspecting of cargo as it is shipped and enhances security through the use of tamper-proof seals and locks. Transporters must also provide advanced notice of cargo contents when shipped to another country. Customs and border control personnel typically inspect cargo when transporters enter each country.

Individual intermodal containers are tracked using RFID systems to deter theft.
Individual intermodal containers are tracked using RFID systems to deter theft.

The purpose of a supply chain network is to link organizations importing and exporting products to ensure the utmost supply chain security. When these organizations are in agreement on regulations and requirements, the chain of supply progresses securely to protect customers, sellers, and citizens of each country. Supply chain management involves establishing parallel strategic plans and business functions among suppliers to improve the security and longevity of each company. Without the risk of theft, terrorism, or piracy, suppliers typically increase profits and the safety of customers usually is maintained.

Governing supply chain security organizations, such as the World Customs Organization, work to maintain effective customs systems among suppliers and customers to ensure that raw materials are imported and exported in a logical manner. These organizations develop, promote, and implement procedures that regulate cargo transport from one country to another. The primary objective is to protect supply chains, boost economic standards and revenues for suppliers, and maintain trade among countries. In addition, these organizations also collect trade statistics pertaining to trade, supply chain security, and supplier revenues.

Supply chain security organizations also monitor illegal activities at borders. For instance, the US Border and Protection agency, led by the Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for monitoring trade as it enters and exits the United States to ensure that drugs, weapons, or illegal substances are not transported or distributed. Border control agents inspect cargo and monitor individual entrance during transports to prevent the threat of terrorism, disease, and harmful pests, and to ensure supply chain security.

C-TPAT membership may be available to those who import goods into the United States.
C-TPAT membership may be available to those who import goods into the United States.

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