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In Safe Hands: A behind-the-scenes look at cargo security audits

Solving the security puzzle

Back at MEX, Gadot was making sure that security perceptions mirror reality, but he did encounter problems. He had a hard time proving that there are fool-proof screening protocols for the warehouse, despite being inundated with documents and other safeguards. RA3 standards require X-ray and explosives scanning for high-risk cargo, and Gadot couldn’t seem to nail down exactly who does what, where and, just as importantly, how each process was verified.

Soon, he had to get involved with an unpropitiously named airport security provider, Ingeneria en Sistemas Integrales de Seguridad Privada (yes, that stands for ISIS), to make sure that MEX’s explosives testing equipment, training and documenting procedures were up to snuff.

After some back-and-forth, Gadot finally confirmed that the security screening does, in fact, meet RA3 standards. The ISIS employees finally convinced him that they had the necessary equipment, training and security background to meet European standards – but it was a tough sell. “It’s not just the equipment,” Gadot explained. He also had to look at who was doing the screening, their procedures, the training and the recruitment procedure.

“It’s like completing a puzzle,” Gadot said. “I’m piecing together training procedures, manuals, security protocols and other documentation into reports that prove that CAL Cargo and Borderless meet ACC3 and RA3 standards.”

 

It’s the human factor

“I sleep well because we have the right procedures in place,” explains Rafael Rubin de Celis, one of Borderless’ shareholders, sitting at a table covered with paperwork detailing hiring policies and background checks, while Gadot worked his way through an HR folder. “Our staff is always on location, and the human factor is our strongest security measure,” Rubin de Celis said.

Borderless has been scrambling to accommodate rising air cargo volumes, and the company is adding dozens of employees every month. With the risk of insider threats, Rubin de Celis acknowledged his liability risks. “If there’s a problem involving cargo from our warehouse, it’s our responsibility. We’re no longer just a warehouse in Mexico. If something happens, it’s going to be a worldwide affair.”

But, how does he ensure that he’s hiring the right people? And how does he prove that to Gadot, who was still working his way through a mountain of paperwork across the table?

Borderless has a three-to-four-hour window to handle freight between landing and takeoff. “If we don’t have results-oriented employees, we’re not going to meet our obligations,” Rubin de Celis said. “If an employee doesn’t have that commitment, it’s better that they leave.” That means new full-time recruits get a 90-day trial period before they can become employees; not everyone makes the cut.

And while most folks are on their phones checking Twitter or Instagram before bed, Borderless managers are keeping an eye on the warehouse. “I can access our CCTV cameras from my phone anywhere in the world,” Rubin de Celis told Air Cargo World, pulling out his phone and scrolling through dozens of cameras. “If there is a problem, I can see it here.”

“The human factor is the most important factor in the security chain,” agreed CAL Cargo’s Segev. “We have technology that can clear threats, but there will be always be humans involved in cargo security. If you don’t cover the human security factor, you can’t guarantee cargo security.”

As an Israeli company, CAL Cargo is at the forefront of counter-terrorism efforts. CAL Cargo’s standards already meet Israeli regulations – which are famously strict – meaning that they do extensive research into all potential employees. “Threats can be anywhere, at any stage of the supply chain,” Segev said. “That’s why it’s important to carry out a risk analysis and constantly ensure that the security response meets the threat. If not, then improvements must be made to provide an immediate response to a new threat.”

Across the industry, carriers and forwarders are realizing that technology isn’t enough by itself. “In spite of the increasing digitalization in our industry, it is ultimately the employees who decide how good our services are,” said Antonio Knezevic, DHL Global Forwarding’s head of security and operational resilience (DGF Europe). “Despite all the security technology, clear processes, training and close cooperation with all, transportation partners are still decisive for a good or bad security performance.”

That’s what Gadot was there to do – find proof of these capabilities. And since the companies know what’s expected of them, they have had to review their own policies to make sure their security standards actually work.

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