Security seals are an integral part of managing cargo in every mode of transit and storage. Seals made according to recognized standards have unique markings for record keeping and tracking. They are a valuable and effective tool when properly applied, handled, and monitored.
Whether goods are under the control of the owner, the carrier, a 3PL, broker, forwarder or anyone in the supply chain, the security seal can serve as both a loss reduction tool and a part of supply chain management and monitoring.
Tracking seals can be as simple as a notation of when and where a seal was applied or removed. Or it can be detailed information about aspects of the seal’s life such as who supplied it, who handled it, who inspected it, what it was used for, what it looks like, and where it has been.
The amount of control and tracking required depends on the value and risks relative to the seal’s purpose. A seal on a container of nuclear waste is under careful and intense control from end to end. A seal on a tote of parts moving to points within a company requires minimal monitoring. The greatest number of computer-based tracking systems that include seals are found where comprehensive logistics management are already in place.
American Casting & Manufacturing has over a century of experience in supplying seals for transport and logistics. We can make everything from simple number seals to custom marked seals to fit a user’s custom program.
For those with no tracking system in place, AC&M offers simple templates to make your own forms or spreadsheets to follow practices discussed here. Or the data points in our templates can be guides for use in existing software for logistics management.
Here are 4 critical places in the supply chain where security seal information should intersect and coordinate with logistics management programs for efficiency, accuracy, and security.
WHEN SEALS ARE ACQUIRED
This is where security seals are received by the purchaser for storage or deployment to the installer. Details for seals going both in and out should be kept at this point, preferably by a person designated as the custodian or auditor.
The function is to record who the seals were given to, and usually the intended use of the seal. It can cover multiple persons or agencies receiving and installing seals. If all seals are to be applied (installed) by the same person, then simpler data management is sufficient.
Most importantly, the integrity of a seal depends on the reliability of the person who handles the seals and completes any recording forms.
AT SEAL INSTALLATION
When seals are installed on a container, trailer, or closure, a similar form should record that event. It can provide a description of the seal, who installed it, where and when it was locked, plus the identity of the trailer, container, or closure it was installed on. An installation form might be used by multiple people at different locations and would usually be completed at the time of issuing the seals. It can be done manually or electronically for data sharing.
AT CARGO INTERCHANGE OR INSPECTION POINTS
Tamper evident seals must be cut open and replaced when cargo is transferred from one conveyance to another, typically at a distribution center or consolidation point. This is important for cross-referencing seal numbers to the actual cargo as opposed to tracking the conveyance – like a trailer or container. A common example is LTL cargo taken from a truck and consolidated in a container. The corresponding seal for the goods changes from the truck’s seal to the container’s seal.
In this case, usually the new seal means another owner and custodian is responsible for that seal. If the same owner such as a 3PL or a carrier’s DC removes the seal and reseals cargo, the new seal is recorded for tracking and may be monitored by the same person.
A similar situation occurs if a seal is removed to inspect cargo by a third-party inspector, law enforcement, customs, etc., or if a carrier discovers a damaged seal in transit that needs replacing. The cargo does not move, but the seal number and description change to the new seal. The removal of the original seal and the details of the new seal should be recorded just as when the original seal was installed.
AT FINAL REMOVAL
This is a critical point for careful inspection and accurate reporting. Final seal removal records should contain details of the seal and its condition. Afterward, the seal should be properly disposed of. More sensitive applications may require a picture to verify details.
That information from beginning to end should be reported back to the seal custodian who initiated its use. The data might then be used later for studying supply movements or an investigation if any unexplained losses or inventory anomalies are found.
SEAL FEATURES THAT AID SUPPLY MANAGEMENT
AC&M offers a full range of security seals from breakaway indicative seals to high strength and high security barrier seals. They can be marked in distinct ways including letters, serial numbers, and colors — codes or indicators.
Many models can be marked with barcodes, optical codes, logos, location names and more. Even a writing space for notes, or a printed label, is available.
We also customize packaging and carton labeling for tracking of both seals and goods.
We record all seal numbers and markings sold. This is an important security practice which provides customers with consistent marking for repeat orders – avoiding number duplication.
Because variables in logistical tracking systems are unlimited this summary can only hit key points. We offer basic tracking forms for guidance, while we encourage contacting a specialist at AC&M with questions or advice about choosing and managing your seals.
American Casting & Mfg. Corp. is a US owned and managed producer of security seals incorporated in New York and operating under the same private family ownership since 1910. We hold ISO-9001:2015 certification for manufacture of military and commercial seals, plus numerous industry credentials and affiliations.
Contact our main office and factory: Email: [email protected]. Call toll free at 1-800-342-0333 in the US or 516-349-7010 from anywhere. See our website www.seals.com for locations, contact information, and our latest products.