Cargo Chat: DHL bringing forward cargo screening and security

Caryn Livingston

David Goldberg, CEO at DHL Global Forwarding USA

Cargo security screening in the United States underwent a major change this year after the late 2018 approval of canine screening. The new screening measures were supportive of air cargo exports early in 2019 when members of the Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) worked without pay during a government shutdown and have continued to allow for more efficient screening throughout the year.

During a September trip to DHL Global Forwarding’s Chicago offices, Air Cargo World got the chance to see the global express giant’s canine screening program in action. We also sat down with David Goldberg, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding USA, to discuss how the new security measures have improved screening efficiency at DHL as well as how DHL has worked with the U.S. government to pilot the canine screening program and to set up foreign trade zones (FTZs) for customers.

ACW: Regarding your cargo screening, what was the timeline for rolling out your new security measures with the canines and the radio frequency identification (RFID) tags?

DG: We’ve been working with the TSA now for the last two to three years on different improvements in security, and I think we’re the pioneer in some of them. One of the improvements that we’ve been working on was to have the canine screening in place and the government has been talking about allowing canines to do the security screening for a long time.

Finally, that was approved earlier this year, end of last year, but we had actually been partnering with one of the approved canine companies already last year in anticipation of that as sort of an added layer of security, even though it wasn’t the approved method of security. Once it became the approved method of security, we were ready to go. We had the canines in a lot of the bigger locations already. And now we’ve added them to all the locations where we do the screening.

The RFID tag, that’s a self-developed technology – not the RFID itself, but the tagging for the different use cases that we started last year through our own in-house innovation. In the Chicago warehouse, right, the first iteration of the tag reader is in use, and [we expect] the second iteration of the tag reader,  we will have it rolled out fully here in Chicago by first-quarter of next year, and then we will work on the next facilities.

ACW: How are you measuring the effectiveness of these new security measures versus older methods?

DG: Well, you can measure that based on alarms and real record-keeping of exceptions. And you see that with the canines, they’re a lot more productive than people. Previously, as an example, if you had a pallet you needed to break down and a pallet had 50 carts, you need to break down the whole pallet, put each cart through the x-ray machine. Now the dog is allowed to sniff the whole pallet in one go. What would take eight hours before can be done in minutes now.

I think for people, it’s sort of a monotonous business or a task, right? Bringing down a pallet, putting the cart through the machine, or having to swap four sides of the box. For the dog, it’s actually a game, right? They’re happy to do that, and I think it’s good for both people and the dog. So yeah, so we can see the effectiveness of that.

ACW: Turning to the FTZs, I wondered how you go about customizing those for your different customers’ needs?

DG: First is the general space, that you need to designate the area for the different zones, and different customers have asked us in different locations to set up zones for their specific businesses. And every business, it’s different. But I think the first step is to actually set up the zone, get it approved by the government and then run the zone. And then each customer, we can set specific standard operating procedure for that customer.

When we visit customers, be it for the first time or many times, we talk about our standard products – airfreight, ocean freight, customs brokerage, warehousing, distribution – and part of that is the ability to be able to offer free trade zones. The ability from us to shine in times when things aren’t clear for customers is to be able to offer different solutions and a free trade zone is a good one at the current time.

This article appeared in the November 2019 issue of Air Cargo World. Read the full issue in our digital archive here.

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