Supply chain security gets a global view

Unisys last week launched the Australian arm of its Global Visible Commerce (GVC) project in a move to balance both security and business effectiveness in the supply chain environment.

The project was specifically designed to reduce vulnerabilities and increase efficiency in an international supply chain, but according to Unisys vice president Andrew Barkla GVC goes beyond just adding RFID tags to international freight.

"Security and efficiency aren't short-term issues that can be addressed by simply putting RFID tags on the sides of shipping containers," Barkla said.

"GVC solutions are being tailored to meet the specific needs of government and companies in life sciences, consumer product, retail, and transportation issues.

"The real payoff is striking a balance between pro-active security measures and the bottom-line benefits that [lets companies] maximize opportunities and their competitive advantage in the current global economy."

Unisys currently hosts and manages what is claimed to be the world's largest RFID network - the US Department of Defense's RFID-based in-transit visibility network and through its current global infrastructure has the ability to support an RFID implementation anywhere in the world.

The US Department of Defense operates a 1300-node operation spanning more than 20 countries.

Unisys was also selected to lead two Operation Safe Commerce pilot projects in three ports in the US - the first, large-scale public and private effort to increase the security of container shipments entering the US.

ITS Global Strategies managing consultant Alan Oxley, who is a former GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) ambassador, said the global nature of supply chain and manufacturing demands a process that can produce supply chain efficiencies with the same techniques used to guarantee security.

If potential terrorism threats are not countered and risks not managed, he said, Australia could lose billions of dollars in gross domestic product over the next five years.

"The immediate impact of closing the Port of Melbourne, Australia's major shipping port, for one month would be a trade loss of $4 billion and flow-on effects would push the full costs to more than $10 billion," Oxley warned.

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