Supply chain executives can take some comfort in the latest numbers from FreightWatch International's US cargo theft report for 2010, which showed that the loss of consumer electronics products to thieves declined in both the number of cargo theft incidents and the average value of electronic goods stolen.
The study revealed that there were 174 incidents in 2010 compared with 196 incidents in 2009. Also, the average value of electronic goods stolen declined from $814,000 in 2009 to $512,000 in 2010.
The drop in consumer electronics theft ran contrary to overall trends, which showed that cargo theft rose by 4.1 percent in 2010, to 899 recorded theft incidents, the highest on record. With an average of 75 incidents per month, the manufacturing supply chain sustained full truckload/container losses at a rate of 2.5 incidents per day. Of the 899 incidents, 724, or 81 percent, were full truckload or container thefts, and 31 were warehouse burglaries.
Dan Burges, corporate director for Global Intelligence at FreightWatch International, told me that the main driver for the decline in consumer electronics theft was that supply chain managers are far more diligent in applying additional security measures to consumer electronic goods that are in hot demand.
In the electronics product category, FreightWatch recorded 42 cases of television theft (the most of any single product), 33 computer/laptop hardware thefts, and 15 cellphone theft incidents. This is the second year in a row in which televisions were the products most stolen. Of note, 61 percent of all electronics thefts occurred in the states of California (52), Florida (32), and Texas (22).
While a decline in theft of consumer electronics is good news, supply chain managers shouldn’t rest on their laurels. In fact, there’s plenty to be concerned about, according to another study from Gartner Inc. titled "Predicts 2011: Global Logistics Leadership a Strategic Imperative."
One of the report’s key findings was: “Supply chain security has taken a back seat to cost reduction during the last three years. A major port disruption is likely within the next five years, however, which will force SCM organizations to formalize risk management.”
For his part, Burges recommends that electronics supply chain managers develop stringent in-transit security protocols, which should be contractually agreed upon with every vendor in their supply chains. Further, the process should be regularly audited to ensure compliance.
While electronics supply chain managers seem to be enjoying some success in managing theft, there’s never an excuse to be complacent in developing risk management processes, or failing to apply the right technology to mitigate supply chain disruption of this kind.
Click here to read the full report from FreightWatch.