Secure Shipper, a new Web-based exchange of U.S. Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism and Europe's Authorized Economic Operator compliant logistics companies, is striving to double its worldwide membership in 2013.
Last month, Secure Shipper
added Rotterdam-based Broekman Group to its membership, and it’s now hoping for at least 13 additional new members in 2013.
The relatively new organization serves as a clearinghouse for overseas partners, giving U.S. supply chain firms access to a database of trusted foreign companies. Membership consists of compliant organizations, but the exchange also includes firms that haven’t yet been certified, presenting required security documentation for the use of other members. These uncertified companies upload a standard security questionnaire along with a Secure Shipper audit, allowing interested parties quick access to important screening documentation.
Keith Stites, Secure Shipper’s president, started the organization as a simple listing of available shipping partners around the world, but then considered a new angle. By providing needed documents online, he could connect members of the supply chain together, making the flow of shipping that much easier.
“It really dawned on me how difficult it is for members of C-TPAT to screen and really have a good network of trusted and trustworthy agents overseas,” he told American Shipper
Take the example of a forwarder in Los Angeles looking for a partner in Hong Kong, he said. Once the forwarder has found an uncertified overseas company, it has to send over a screening questionnaire to get the necessary information for compliance. It is then that forwarder's responsibility to make sure the document gets properly filled out, follow up with the company if there are additional questions, and make sure everything is in order. If the U.S.-based company has a decent size supply chain, this dance gets repeated over and over, and can lead to a logistical headache, he said.
“And the other side is getting deluged with these questionnaires,” Stites added.
Not everyone in the supply chain industry is sold on the benefits of C-TPAT, he said. To spread the word about cost-savings benefits — Stites quoted a Customs figure that containers from C-TPAT certified parties get examined more than 3 percent fewer times than other shipments — Secure Shipper is planning a conference in July.
More than anything, Stites simply wants to get the word out on what he sees as a unique business. Every other exchange, he said, focuses on connecting parties trying to move freight with organizations who need business. Secure Shipper is about streamlining the supply chain.
“We’re not moving freight or involved in the actual cargo flow,” he said. “We’re just trying to put the parties together so that they can build a secure supply chain network.” - Jon Ross