Security initiatives boost international container terminal efficiency

by Christina Tai

Jessie Chung general manager of logistics, Modern Terminals Limited

Enhanced security measures will help Hong Kong's position as an international logistics hub

In response to heightened concerns about the security of container transportation, Modern Terminals Limited has taken a proactive role in upgrading the local container security procedures.

"We were among the first in Hong Kong to be certified as International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) compliant by the Marine Department," says Jessie Chung, the company's general manager for logistics. "We have also stepped up measures to ensure our compliance with the IMO's (International Maritime Organisation) ISPS Code."

Modern Terminals aims to build a "win-win" situation in collaborating with other new security programmes, such as the US-led Container Security Initiative (CSI) and Operation Safe Commerce (OSC). Close cooperation with customer shipping lines and the pilots' association has tightened supply chain security, which has also been reinforced in response to the C-TPAT (Customs Trade Partners Against Terrorism) programme initiated in the US.

What's in the box?

In July 2004, the Hong Kong Container Terminal Operators Association (HKCTOA) started tests at Kwai Chung of the Integrated Container Inspection System (ICIS). They used NII (non-intrusive inspection) technology, which is the best way of screening all containerised cargo shipments before vessel loading, while minimising interruptions to operations and cargo flow and maintaining overall efficiencies in a safe environment. In a bid to enhance the competitiveness of Hong Kong port by perfecting its security, Modern Terminals became one of the first to participate in the ICIS scheme.

Data collected from the VACIS, RPM and OCR scans can be readily retrieved from the ICIS server, for review by customs authorities and other agencies worldwide.

ICIS also enables inspectors to target high-risk containers quickly and efficiently, by identifying differences from the expected contents, instead of depending on intelligence that might be unreliable.

Enhanced competitiveness

After the initial ICIS test, the HKCTOA received acknowledgement in late 2005 from Robert Bonner, commissioner of the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) of the Department of Homeland Security, for having taken an important step forward in improving container security.

CBP expressed strong interest in working with the HKCTOA, the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department, and the Hong Kong Government to develop policies, procedures and response protocols. CBP hopes to take advantage of the investment the Hong Kong shipping community is making, to better protect global trade and the maritime supply chain.

Ms Chung is confident that the collaborative efforts by terminals, carriers and government authorities will lead to new security standards for the global trading community. "Apart from optimising our core business in Hong Kong, Modern Terminals has also been actively expanding our business in China in recent years, thereby leading to shared knowledge on security technologies with the Pearl River Delta region," she says.

Extra resources

In terms of deployment of resources, Modern Terminals has made considerable investment in a number of areas. They include:

  • risk assessment and an enhanced security plan
  • additional security officers and guards
  • extra training and educational programmes for the company's employees
  • new operating procedures to comply with increased security measures
  • extra container inspections
  • improved fencing/ gates/ access arrangements
  • upgraded CCTV coverage
  • increased insurance premiums

Security force

  • Logistics Departmen - the port security initiative team, responsible for developing and implementing supply chain security, and helping customers meet global security requirements
  • Security Team - responsible for designing and executing internal security measures, as well as the administration and support for daily activities. They are also responsible for monitoring the operational standards


Taken from Career Times 21 July 2006
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