How does a container seal work?A container seal is placed around the bars of the container and should ensure that the doors of the container remain closed while it is in transit. The seal bears a unique number. When the container arrives at its destination, that number should be the same. That way, companies know that their cargo has remained secure while in transit and that no-one has been inside the container. However, in practice, container seals appear to be easy to manipulate. Consequently, migrants frequently manage to climb inside a container and travel via the port of Rotterdam to England whereas criminals manage to slip drugs into containers.
Why are container seals not adequately secured?The statutory requirements for container security are minimal and therefore the least expensive container seals are often chosen. Sometimes the seal is no more than a plastic strip that certainly wouldn’t be able to stop people smugglers or criminals.
In order to climb into a container, one needs to break the seal. However, a cheap container lock can easily be tampered with. The security locks are manipulated in such a way that it looks as if they have not been broken. Remove the seal, put the bag of drugs or stowaways in the container, put the seal back and no-one will be any the wiser.
The video below shows a number of ways in which container sealing locks can be sabotaged:
So how should you properly secure containers?The Dutch trade association Transport en Logistiek Nederland (TLN) recognises the problem and advises its members to go for the best security, but refrains from making it compulsory. It is also important for sealing locks to always be fitted correctly. There have been cases in the past where a container seal was affixed upside down, making it easy to open using liquid.
Stricter international guidelines for improving container security are due to be introduced although it is still not clear when these are officially going to come into force. Naturally, as a transport company you don’t want to wait any longer as you don’t secure your containers in order to respect the law but rather to prevent break-ins and misery.
There are enough secure solutions for you to keep stowaways and criminals out of your containers such as mechanical container locks, electronic container locks or cargo monitoring systems such as the e-containerguard. With this mobile device, you can monitor your container in real time and take action promptly if anything happens in transit.