Tapping Technology to Protect the Supply Chain

As cargo theft rises, more companies are deploying RFID to alert shippers of tampered cargo in real-time.

A recent study signals that cargo theft remains an ever-growing issue in the U.S., affecting a wide range of goods within the supply chain, but that RFID technology might be a strong solution.

According to FreightWatchs 2010 Annual Cargo Theft Report, industry-wide cargo theft rose by 4.1% in 2010 and averaged 75 cargo theft incidents per month, a new record high.

The food and beverage industry was the hardest hit, accounting for nearly 21% of the total theft activity, with an average loss value of $125,000 per incident. Electronics accounted for 19% of all cargo theft with an average loss per incident of $512,000.

The pharmaceuticals industry might not have been hit with great frequency, but paid by far the steepest costs. According to the report, pharmaceutical theft made up only 5% of all cargo theft by volume, but averaged $3.78 million per robbery, thus making it one of the most lucrative theft targets among cargo thieves.

To address concerns over the increased incidents of robbery, companies are taking proactive roles to protect their supply chain. Pfizer, for instance, has begun bottling its popular Viagra drug with RFID tags, which allows it to not only combat theft, but also counterfeiting.

EarthSearch Communications, meanwhile, has begun developing a product predicated on wireless communication between a GPS and RFID for tracking cargo shipments through its LogiBoxx system.

The technology allows shippers to track the locations of its cargo anywhere within the supply-chain. The RFID is programmed to alert the system of any anomalies.

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