Beyond the Filler: Marketing logistics in the supply chain
Dairy and ice cream products are most vulnerable to tampering or contamination while beyond our control in the retail display cabinet. Remember the Tylenol tampering deaths? Both raw milk and packaged product transportation security is primarily an enhanced, more formal approach and a better-documented extension of the product quality assurance/"cold chain" training and protection you should have been doing all along. That said, my absolute first product security rule is to always be able to know, in real time, while in transit if possible, the "who, what, when, where, why" regarding your products-from loading to delivery acceptance by your customer.
A combination of on-board sensors, Global Positioning Systems, RF product tags, cellular and satellite communications and routing systems, all commonly available today, enables dairy or ice cream companies to know: Where their products are; how cold they were when loaded and during transport; have there been any unauthorized stops, route deviations or door openings while in transit; each authorized person who opened the truck body or trailer doors/where and when it happened; what time the delivery arrived at the customer location; how long did the driver have to wait to unload; how long to complete the delivery; who accepted it at what time; and product core temperature at delivery. It should be noted the same security technology and protocols can and should be applied to in-bound raw milk farm-to-market pick up and over-the-road tanker transport as well.
Such data documents both product quality assurance and anti-terror protection efforts as well. If your company's name, reputation and financial well-being is to survive some future in-store product tampering or contamination incident, you must be in a position to quickly verify and document your product's security and condition while in your possession and when it left your control. Proof protects your company's reputation, limits its liability exposure and provides vital law enforcement assistance in narrowing the search for cause of contamination.
In designing your transportation security program, don't overlook the importance of the "WHO" part of the plan. Who are the people with access to your plants, garages and warehouses, driving your delivery routes and transports? Are they really who they say they are? In the case of drivers, is that CDL legitimate? How do you know? A valid security program must include procedures to proactively and positively confirm both employee identities and those of any outside drivers and service personnel to be granted access to your facilities.
Lastly, a transport security program's most critical day-in day-out task is fostering and maintaining a "security-is-vital" attitude and general security awareness. All employees, drivers in particular, must be educated and trained in the need and everyday 24-hour importance of product protection and security.
To help meet that very need, the American Trucking Association (ATA), under a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has created a program called Highway Watch®. Program participants-"transportation infrastructure workers, commercial and public truck and bus drivers and other highway sector professionals-are specially trained to recognize potential safety and security threats and avoid becoming a target of terrorists.
"Highway Watch® training provides participants with the observational tools and the opportunity to exercise their expert safety and security concerns rapidly and accurately to the authorities."
Highway Watch® participation and training for route delivery, farm pick up and transport drivers will greatly increase the overall level of drivers' security awareness. This training raises everyone's awareness of their daily surroundings and sensitivity to what's going on around them. I strongly encourage dairy and ice cream industry participation in this joint ATA/Department of Homeland Security program. More information about Highway Watch®, including how to join, will be found at www.highwaywatch.com.