Previously, this blog has reported on the Obama administration's supply chain security initiatives and, more recently, on a specific plan put forward by the U.S. Congress to begin physically scanning all cargo containers before they are unloaded at the nation's ports. A scanning mandate was actually put in place in 2006, but implementation of the program has been continually delayed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), due to doubts about the plan's viability.
The GACAG report asserts that although several countries have begun seeking to implement cargo security measures, the creation of a successful system will depend on the ability of the various industry players and national governments involved to come together and adopt consistent standards. The disparate efforts currently underway will only produce a fragmented, inefficient system and ad-hoc policies mandating use of specific methods or technologies may end up imposing regulations that the shipping industry will be incapable of fulfilling, according to GACAG chairman Michael Steen.
Although physically scanning every cargo container bound for the United States may not be fully practicable at this point, that doesn't mean that there is nothing that can be done to strengthen supply chain security in the present.
Standardized, coded labeling can help businesses and governments track and trace cargo shipments throughout the international shipping system. And, expanding the use of GS1 compliant labeling would allow all stakeholders to unify around a set of consistent, high-quality standards that have been proven effective by the countless organizations currently utilizing GS1 certified labeling solutions in their operations.