9 things you need to know about security in transportation

Alejandro Valderrama from ABLOY Latin America headquarters in Bogotá, Colombia, shares a few best practices in transportation security.

1.      Technological advancements are changing the security landscape

The security landscape in the transportation and logistics sector is changing at the same pace as technological developments advance. Businesses are looking for new technological solutions to streamline their logistic operations and making them more competitive. Automation, for example, is one of the driving forces.

Supply chain parties have the responsibility to know where and when the cargo is moving at any given time, and the final buyers expect to know the same.

The rise of 5G communications technologies brings huge opportunities for transportation and logistics - and for the solutions that secure them.

2.    Complex subcontracting in the transport chain poses challenges

One of the biggest security challenges in transportation and logistics relate to subcontractors and other third parties in the supply chain. To put it simply, owners of goods have their goods transported from starting point A to end point B. These points are located in places possessed or controlled by the goods owner.

However, the transportation between these points is outsourced to a subcontractor almost without exception. The driver, the transportation equipment, and any intermediate storage facilities are not owned or controlled by the owner of the goods, but by the subcontracting chain. This poses a challenge for the security manager to keep the cargo safeguarded during transport.

3.    Not only theft but also contamination

One of the main concerns of the manager who makes decision on subcontracting is security against theft. Another important issue is to control the goods against contamination. Especially in grocery or food transportation, the owner wants to control that the containers remain unopened during transport. Therefore, the less keys are shared, the better.

One of our partners, an airline catering company in Latin America, is producing all the inflight meals very near the airport. One of their prime concern is to make sure that their deliveries are not contaminated with narcotic drugs, for example. The transport distance in this case is minimal, only a few blocks, but enough to make it an attractive option for smugglers to get their illegal parcels into airplanes.

Similar concerns exist at land borders between countries like Mexico and the United States.

In the cases described, our customers want to know in real time exactly where, when and by whom any lock has been opened.

4.   Remote access management is key in moving objects

Sometimes the carriage has to be opened during transport at the request of the authorities, such as the police. Currently, customers have been using security seals to see if a trailer or container door has been opened. Instead, they would like to use remote opening options, without giving the driver any physical keys.

Luckily, with today’s access control and locking technology, this is possible. With the digital ABLOY® BEAT locking solution, the owner of the delivery can authorize the driver to open the container padlock by remotely activating the driver’s access rights via a mobile app.

We have another customer project with a chain of hundreds of convenience stores. Currently, access permissions are managed electromechanically with physical keys and remotely manageable wall PDs. With our new, keyless BEAT locking solution, the retail chain plans to save costs further. Fully digital keys make the management very practical, even if store managers or staff change.

5.   Minimize the breakdown of your highly used keys and locks

Another logistics-intensive project we are working on, is with a retail supermarket company in Latin America. They are currently using ABLOY electromechanical padlocks  to secure their trucks. In this case, their challenge is the extremely high frequency of use, consuming the keys.

The company has been looking for a durable option that also has a remote access management feature. Also here, a modern locking system without physical keys is now bringing a perfect solution, reducing the key wear. It also lessens the need of picking up any needed keys from distant locations in case a remote opening is needed during the cargo.

6.   Reduce the risk of fraudulent activities

Another thing our customers in the transportation vertical are asking is traceability. They want to have visibility on where, when and by whom a lock has been opened. According to a global survey published by Inbound Logistics magazine in 2019, lack of supply chain visibility was the sixth biggest challenge faced by shippers worldwide.

Many of our customers have faced criminal, parallel business with commodities they produce or sell. In these cases, nobody knew accurately what happened to the deliveries as they left the factory or warehouse.

One of our customers in Mexico had not been able to track the shipments well enough, so they decided to secure the shipments with our electromechanical PROTEC2 CLIQ locking solutions. Now they are able to secure all the goods and control who has access to open the container locks and when – successfully minimising any fraudulent activities.

7.    Your security is only as strong as its weakest link

There are some pitfalls to consider when thinking about improving the safety of your transportation. No matter how strong the padlock you install is, it will not be secure if other hardware components in the set-up are weak. Make sure to reinforce the entire  configuration when you install new locks. Otherwise your locks will not do their work.

8.   The security process can be your most vulnerable point

It is essential that your locking hardware is sturdy enough, but the whole security and locking process is equally important. If your process fails, so will your security.

In many cases the locking solution can be integrated to your system or existing workflow, like ABLOY BEAT does. With a proper access and key management solution that gives you control and situational awareness over all the digital, electromechanical and mechanical keys from one single userface, like ABLOY® OS, you can reinforce your security process.

9.   Know the whereabouts of your keys

Make sure you know who possesses and operates your keys. With modern locking solutions you can authorize access rights to specified people, for a specified time period to operate specified locks. You can also delete the access rights, if a key is lost or stolen.


Alejandro Valderrama Arias
Regional Director, Latin America
ABLOY Critical Infrastructure