With the Federal crackdown on corporate trade compliance and security in the last decade, the management and security protocols pertaining to your company’s international supply chain have become more critical to your continued success than ever before. The Federal security programs and your shipping manager have the same basic goal- to prevent product tampering, substitution, counterfeiting and loss along the often convoluted journey your merchandise takes from the manufacturer’s floor to yours. Before technology rose to the challenge, security and prevention depended almost entirely on the goodwill and ethical integrity of a multitude of product packers, shippers, receivers and other staff along the supply chain route- and even one corrupt link in this delicately balanced chain could spell disaster. That is what makes supply chain visibility a vital aspect of your corporate program.

Fortunately for both retailers and federal agencies dealing with trade compliance and security issues, technology has risen to the occasion to make supply chain visibility both easy and affordable to achieve and maintain. Using older technology, such as radio frequencies, in new ways, and innovative micro and global communications technology, knowing exactly where your product has been every step of the way, and when it’s been there, has become standard operation for the most successful and compliant trade companies. Because in today’s global marketplace and economy, increased supply chain visibility equals enhanced supply chain security.

Visibility Tools For Supply Chain Security

Although these product tracking tools were primarily developed to increase supply chain security, they have been productively integrated into supply chain logistics and management, helping companies to streamline their import and export process, reduce their overall trade costs, and lower the risk of product loss during the journey from factory to retailer.

*Radio Frequency Identification (RFID): A popular technology with both retail companies and the United States Department of Defense, RFID uses a passive wireless tag system that allows automatic product identification along every point in the supply chain at a gratifyingly low cost to your corporation.

*Microwires: A relatively new invention on the scene, microwire technology uses a half-inch or one-inch length of micro thin, glass-coated wiring- roughly the size of one strand of hair- to provide product visibility via their magnetic properties, which make them even more cost effective than the RFID system, and potentially even more efficient. Another popular plus side to microwire identification is its ability to be practically invisible, making it an excellent preventative for product tampering, counterfeit production, and theft, since criminals find it difficult to find and remove the device.

*Location-Based Technology: Location based technology uses the combine technology of the various geographic information systems (GIS) such as the Global Positioning System (GPS), the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite system, Iridium, Globalstar, and the cell phone system networks to achieve worldwide product tracking. Depending on the combination of the different GIS used, these hidden devices can transmit location data such as exact longitude and latitude at specified intervals on an almost instantaneous relay, allowing a quick response time to security issues identified within the product supply chain.

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