There was mixed news for shippers last month as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a 2-year delay in the implementation of a mandate that would require all cargo containers to be physically scanned before being unloaded at U.S. ports.
In a press statement, DHS spokesman Matthew Chandler explained that "Based on engagement with industry and foreign partners, as well as the results of several pilots, DHS has concluded that 100 percent scanning of incoming maritime cargo is neither the most efficient nor cost-effective approach to securing our global supply chain."
The container-screening mandate was originally included in a 2006 port-security measure that was reauthorized by new legislation on June 29.
Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation, said that most industry leaders believe the requirement will be continually pushed back, but the uncertainty created by this situation is still bad for business.
According to Gold, there is little hope for a repeal of the impractical scanning mandate in the near future because no member of Congress wants to appear "soft" on port security.
We will see what happens with this particular initiative, but what this episode makes clear is that businesses should take it upon themselves to be proactive in securing their supply chains. This may reduce the need for Congress to impose more intrusive shipping regulations in the future.
Keeping up with current labeling trends can be a major aid to any company looking to bolster the integrity of its shipping operations. Standardized barcode labels enable importers to trace products back to their manufacturers, verifying the legitimacy and safety of each shipment without necessitating cumbersome physical scans. Of course, the effectiveness of such a system depends on businesses' ability to maintain label compliance and enforce thorough procedural standards among their shipping partners.