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How to keep your eyes on your merchandise

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In the overall supply chain warehouses have been treated as separate entities; simply a temporary repository for merchandise storage before it is moved on to its final destination.
Recently retailers and other businesses have come to see that by integrating warehouse storage and freight transport into the greater supply chain, they can leverage the benefits of enhanced inventory management, better loss prevention and shrinkage protection, writes Laurence Smith, executive at Graphic Images Technologies.
In this industry, when it comes to transporting merchandise between warehouse and retail destination, merely tracking the movement of trucks is no longer sufficient and companies are having to rely on armed escorts and the implementation of smarter security technology to ensure their freight arrives at its destination. Despite additional security measures, there are syndicates that still outsmart these technologies and additional measures while in transit. In addition to merchandise being at risk during transport, these goods are also vulnerable in the warehouses while being stored in anticipation of collection.

Having eyes inside and outside the warehouse
Theft, loss and mishandled goods are the main risks in warehousing and freight transport. Of these risks, the transportation of goods continues to be one of the most critical weak spots. While systems can be placed both in the vehicle and the warehouse exit and entry points, their effectiveness depends on the implementation and strict controlling measures to ensure the integrity of the system.
Inside the warehouse, security can be tightened by implementing and using Ultra-High Definition (UHD or “4K”) IP cameras, which offer better resolution and more detail. Because of the high video resolution of these 4K cameras, fewer are required to monitor a larger area which means fewer cameras to manage, fewer network points and less of a drain on bandwidth and storage.
This is because these cameras are capable of adaptive video streaming, which allows for recording of the video at 4K resolution while enabling playback at a resolution that meets the viewers’ requirements. Such cameras have evolved to the point where its now possible to use them for visual monitoring and verification of merchandise.
For example, in a warehouse where goods are picked from the shelves and placed in a cage ready for transport collection, by using a 4K camera, an operator can count and visually ascertain whether the correct number of crates or boxes were loaded from the warehouse.

Having eyes inside the freight truck
By using these 4K cameras and the associated video recorder management applications it is possible to monitor the merchandise all the way from the warehouse until it reaches its end destination, to reduce the risks of theft and mishandling. Each situation is different for example, by utilising closed body trucks the freight is not as exposed to the risk of theft and a closed body truck can be monitored, using a mobile DVR and cameras.
This makes it possible to for an external operator to monitor what is going on inside the truck, as well as provide visual verification that the correct goods were loaded into and off the truck. Such a mobile video recording and transmission system also ensures that the load is secure during its journey as an alarm is sent to the control centre with video verification if the load bay door is opened.
Once the goods have reached their destination, footage from the mobile DVR’s cameras can be used to conduct an external visual inspection to make sure that the load doors are still sealed to verify the integrity of the load.
A main gate interlocking system could also be implemented here whereby access is given, not to the guard at the gate, but rather to the control centre operator and the driver vehicle and guard would be recorded as they enter and exit the premises.
While this can be time consuming, it enables the goods to be tracked throughout their journey from warehouse to end-destination with visual verification of any intrusion or collusion between parties to commit theft. Where bandwidth availability and cost is an issue, the same technology that is used for cash-in-transit vans could also have application in freight transport.
This system is effective because it’s so simple – by making use of GSM networks with bandwidth requirements as low as 8kpbs by using cellular and wireless technology, it enables real-time monitoring by streaming live (and recorded) video from vehicles to a remote control centre that can independently dispatch assistance and respond to any threatening situation that might arise.
Even though warehousing and freight security has long been overlooked, it’s starting to come under closer scrutiny, given rising crime levels the length to which criminals are prepared to go to get their hands on valuable goods. This makes it more important than ever to take all possible precautions to ensure the integrity of the supply chain at this point.
By securing the goods in transport and during storage in a simple, visual way, retailers and transporters alike will be able to see the positive impact on security in the elimination of theft, loss and damage of their valuable goods.