TrakLok takes a novel approach to supply chain security

TrakLok and a HazMat provision in MAP-21 go hand in hand.

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In the recently-passed, two-year, $118 billion MAP-21 transportation bill, there are various components which focus on freight and transportation infrastructure, which are of upmost importance to shippers.

And there are also components which are highly germane to safety, too. One example of this is a section in MAP-21 which gives the Secretary of Transportation the opportunity to “develop and implement a hazardous material technical assessment, research and development, and analysis program for the purpose of: reducing the risks associated with the transportation of hazardous material; and identifying and evaluating new technologies to facilitate the safe, secure, and efficient transportation of hazardous material.”

If you overlooked that part of MAP-21, you are forgiven, considering it is a very lengthy bill to say the least. But at the same time, it is very important and opens the doors for all different types of supply chain and logistics technology providers, too.

Not long ago, I had an opportunity to speak with Tom Mann, CEO of Knoxville, Tenn.-based TrakLok, a company focusing on security systems for the radiological/nuclear, chemical and electronics industries, which has also secured global pharmaceutical shipments, too.

At the core of the company’s expertise, which is directly related to the MAP-21 HazMat section is its GeoLok offering.

According to company officials, GeoLok provides shippers and motor carriers with one-stop shopping for trailer and container security by combining locking with monitoring, tracking, and reporting that can be deployed in a standalone system or integrated with various fleet management systems.

Mann explained that GeoLok functions as a lock on the back of a truck trailer with a sophisticated system that monitors the security of cargo and instantaneously reports security breaches via cellular and satellite networks.  Authorized personnel, he said, can easily move the device from container to container in seconds.  TrakLok also offers the company a geofencing capability prohibiting the lock from opening if it is outside a prescribed area.

“This is a physical security device, with a security component that tells us if anyone is tampering with the lock,” said Mann. “Signs of tampering include things like impact, vibration, striking. The satellite system provides information on where it is located, and the lock will only open for the right person in the right place.”

In regards to how TrakLok helps to keep hazardous material shipments secure, Mann explained that the actual value of a hazmat load is not of as much concern as its security and damage to its brand if a security breach—like a stolen load—occurred, coupled with damage to a company’s brand.

This is especially relevant to chemical shippers, for example.

“After 9/11, security for things like bridges, tunnels, and airports increased,” said Mann. “But the transportation industry was not impacted as quickly. Today, the most common thing on the back of a truck is a padlock, which can be cut with a bolt cutter.”

The TrakLok device is located on the outside of the trailer located between the two most innermost bars and is about the size of a small laptop computer. It can be installed in about a minute and serves as what Mann described as an obvious physical deterrent to foul play.

The MAP-21 hazardous material section provides a great opportunity for TrakLok, Mann noted.

“Our goal is not to work with companies that have high theft rates and want to fix them,” he said. “It has more to do with fixing the problem before it happens. This fits the bill for many of these types of companies.”

In the chaotic, never-stopping world of freight transportation, you can never be too careful when planning safety. It is good to see there are some companies out there doing what they can to make that a priority.

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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