Supply chain security is essential, and as thieves get smarter and more sophisticated, it's up to warehouse managers to find ways to protect their investment from the moment it is manufactured to the time it goes on store shelves. Warehouse and supply chain security are evolving to keep up with these growing threats. Let's take a closer look at best practices for warehouse supply chain security, and how it will evolve in the future.
Upgrade to digital data entry
Manual data entry methods may have served organizations well for decades. However, paperwork is too easy to fake, lose, or damage — all of which can compromise warehouse security. Instead of relying on age-old manual data-entry techniques, upgrade to digital data entry. Barcode scanners or RFID tags allow you to immediately identify products as they arrive and remove them from your in-house inventory as soon as they leave, with little to no room for error.
Upgrading your inventory management systems is useful for more than just security — it can also make your picking and packing teams more efficient. Instead of having to search for a piece that needs to be pulled, team members can scan a barcode or an RFID tag which will provide an exact location for the items they need to pick.
Improve warehouse security
Warehouses may serve as stopping points and storage facilities, but they can also be vulnerable to theft, especially if the building is older or improperly maintained. Points of entry that receive regular use, like old commercial doors, can experience problems experience problems as hardware ages that make them difficult to secure, leaving the facility open to anyone who wants to walk through the doors.
If it's been a while since your last building remodel, start taking a look at your facility and see if the building itself could be creating security problems for your supply chain. At the very least, find room in the budget to keep doors and windows maintained. Further, train employees to be aware of anyone who might be following them through the door, “tailgating” to gain entry. Encourage them to ask strangers why they need to come into the building and who they are coming to see.
Those RFID tags aren't just useful for keeping track of your inventory. They can also be valuable tools for controlling who has access to your vehicles and facilities — especially when paired with closed circuit television (CCTV). RFID tags can be programmed to unlock certain doors or cars and will keep track of each time they are used.
Pairing them with CCTV can increase the tracking capability of these devices. A similar system is used in one of Sony's warehouses, with the goal of reducing internal shrink. Each time the RFID tag is activated, a time-stamp is applied to the CCTV footage for warehouse managers to see. This system was designed for Sony's warehouse in 2006, and the technology has only advanced in the intervening years.
Motion detection & perimeter security
If you're not on-site 24/7, your facility might be vulnerable. In fact, would be thieves often scope out potential sites to become familiar of when things are quiet. There are two steps you can take to improve warehouse and supply chain security during your off-hours. The first is to implement motion detection as part of your security system. These detectors can let you know if there's someone is in the facility when it is supposed to be empty or is in an area where they aren't supposed to be.
Perimeter security can also help improve the safety of your warehouse and inventory. Physical barriers like walls and fences are a good start, but they are only the foundation of a good perimeter security system. Cameras — both CCTV and infra-red — glass-break detection, and video verification should all be part of your perimeter security system.
Unfortunately, we no longer live in a society where we can leave our doors unlocked and still feel secure. Supply chain and warehouse security have become a necessity rather than a nice to have. These steps can help you keep your inventory safe from manufacturing to distribution and everything in between.