Manufacturing and distribution centers concerned with Loss Prevention often have elaborate systems in place to manage Logistics. And, the word Logistics takes on many different meanings including the movement of goods from warehouse to warehouse, and optimization of the same. However, one area that is often overlooked is the simple act of checking trucks & trailers in and out of the distribution center. This function is often outsourced to third party security companies and they are tasked with greeting the vehicles with a clipboard and multiple documents to complete in order to check vehicles in and out.
The process of using pen and paper for this important function leads to numerous problems. 1) the information is often inaccurate, 2) the information must be duplicated from form to form, 3) the perception of Loss Prevention is nebulous at best and 4) all of this paper has to be stored somewhere making searches and reports tedious and time consuming.
The answer to this is to have the guard greet the arriving and departing trucks and trailers with a Tablet PC that allows them to gather the information that is specific to the site. One customer may need to check in Tag #, Seal #, Trailer #, and other details. While another site may need to record entirely different details such as Weight, Height, Fuel Levels. The same site may have different requirements for different types of vehicles coming in. The tablet and associated software should be flexible enough to allow you to set the required fields up as you need them, and to allow them to flow in the order that makes the most sense for checking in the vehicle.
The Tablet can be set up to scan the driver’s license and even take photos of aspects of the shipment or vehicle that need to be recorded. Driver’s records should be retained to make checking them in on a return visits a faster process, and for future security reporting needs.
Not all Tablets are created equal. You may be tempted to try to check in trucks and trailers using an iPad because they are inexpensive. But, iPads and most other consumer tablets will not hold up to the elements. Checking in trucks and trailers for loss prevention and asset protection is usually done outside, in the sunshine, rain, dust, and wind. Therefore it is necessary to invest in a rugged tablet that works in direct sunlight, resists water, uses Gorilla glass, and can dropped from at least 4 feet and survive the fall.
Recording all of the details about arriving and departing shipments means that this information needs to be accessible to the people who need it the most. For example, shipping and receiving or transportation may need details about specific arrivals and departures. This information must available to others without them having to go to the tablet and taking the tablet out of service while they run a report. Therefore web based reporting is the best method of making this information available to the people who need it the most and are authorized to access it.
The details about each and every transaction should be easily retrieved in a single record. It is important to know who checked in, when they checked in, who checked them in, their ultimate destination (dock #, yard, etc.), and all of the other details recorded during the process. If your facility is ever subject to demurrage or detention charges, then accurate reporting is a must to protect against erroneous claims.
As an added benefit, it may be helpful to send a text or email as soon as shipment arrives. Some facilities send a text to the fork lift driver for example, so they know to go directly to a certain dock to begin unloading. This saves time and aggravation, and gets the trailers unloaded faster and off of the property.
To make the check out process quick and easy, it is often beneficial to print a barcoded credential for the driver and shipment upon arrival. As they are departing the guard can simply scan the barcode to retrieve the inbound record and begin the outbound check out process.
As a final loss prevention note, the software should be flexible enough to allow you to make changes to your data gathering requirements as needed. After all, new regulations and rules are entering the mix all the time. International shipments carry their own regulations, and CTPAT requirements seem to be evolving. Flexible software and an easy to use interface make managing these tasks easy.
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