A Guide to Transporting High-Value Cargo

Individuals and businesses may need to transport high-value cargo, with unique implications and considerations. The logistics are specific

By Larissa Lopes
Updated on July 25, 2022
A Guide to Transporting High-Value Cargo

Individuals and businesses may need to transport high-value cargo, with unique implications and considerations.

The logistics are specific, and below is a guide to what it means to transport high-value cargo, and you can implement appropriate strategies.

A Guide to Transporting High-Value Cargo

What is High-Value Cargo?

High-value cargo can be anything expensive, although the term expensive is subjective. The particular definition of high-value cargo can be fluid, and you can see it refers to goods that are several hundred dollars or euros, up to millions of dollars or euros.

Examples of commonly transported high-value cargo include high-tech electronics, pharmaceuticals, and vehicles. And can also include branded clothing, chemical products, and medical equipment in the high-value category.

Along with the actual invoice value of cargo being transported, things like the customs duties required at border crossings are accounted for.
High-value goods require transportation and logistics providers that pay attention to details and increase the safety measures throughout the process.

The risk of cargo theft in Europe

According to the Transport Asset Protection Association, an organization focused on supply chain security and resilience, products worth that stole more than 172 million euros during the road transit process in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East in 2020. This was despite the heavy COVID-19 restrictions that year.

Countries with the highest number of crimes related to the theft of goods include the UK, German, the Netherlands, Spain, and Russia.

The total losses for 2020 highlighted above are only a fraction of what was actually lost.

While the criminal schemes vary over time, in Europe, theft of goods during the transport process most often happens when a vehicle stops in a parking area that isn’t guarded.

In Russia, criminals will often create fake companies that they say will handle transport. They might falsify driver, vehicle, or company documents.

There are a wide variety of schemes and scams targeting cargo currently.

The rate of cargo theft in Europe has been going up over the past decade, particularly as the world continues to demand luxury items.

Transporting high-Value cargo in Germany

Transporting high-Value cargo in Germany, in particular, tends to see the bulk of the cargo theft in Europe. According to supply chain experts, goods worth billions of euros moved on German roads every day.

Germany also has relatively high levels of industrial production and economic growth, so the volume of goods classified as high-volume is going up.

Germany is arguably one of the most important transit countries in the European Union.

Around 70% of losses within the supply chain are reportedly because of insider knowledge.

Every area globally has its own crime patterns as well. Another individual factor that can play a role in cargo security is longer supply chains. When supply chains are longer, they add more touchpoints. More touchpoints mean more vulnerability.

Crime organizations are increasingly putting their attention toward goods in transit too.

If you’re the victim of cargo theft, you’ll wonder who’s liable for the damage. Usually, every liability security policy in transportation will exclude coverage for certain items. So the dispatcher has to find out which items aren’t covered.

The carrier will often have limited liability, and the circumstances surrounding the theft will play a role in what’s payable.

Factors that can be part of determining liability include whether or not the client provided safety instructions; if and followed those, how and where the truck was parked; and whether and could characterize the driver’s behavior as negligent. Also relevant is how secured the load is.

Getting ahead of potential crime

For companies or even individuals who need to transport cargo with a high value, technology, best practices, and professional security are helpful.

One way to reduce vulnerability in this type of transport is to implement more speed from end to end.

Direct routes and expedited services mean less dwell time and fewer touchpoints.

Technology can also help. For example, you might use container tracking and technology geared toward risk analysis and route planning.

Predictive modeling can help companies understand where they might need to have an escort. In addition, with predictive modeling, you can look at the expected losses as you compare protected; and unprotected cargo, allowing you to allocate your security-based resources properly.

More supply chain visibility can help you ensure that all high-value goods get where they need to go and arrive when they’re meant to.

What are best practices?

When you’re securing goods that are high value, you want to make sure that you’re implementing a layered approach. A layered approach uses a combination of planning and processes and security monitoring and packaging.

Your supply chain for high-value goods will start by mapping everything to see where weaknesses and risk areas exist. Then, you’ll begin to assess the processes you’re using, your assets, and the facilities making up your network.

As you work with a security professional or manager, you can learn more about the particular tools that will allow you to mitigate risks best.

Professional security providers will not only put in place but monitor, and measure your procedures to make sure you’re getting the best outcomes.

Choosing transport security services

If you’re transporting cargo across borders and you’re working with professional security service providers, look for the following:

  • You should find a provider that will work with you to create a customized risk assessment. This is when you’ll begin to identify the threats that may exist and develop tailored plans to mitigate the identified risks.
  • Transport security professionals should help with route planning. This is when the security providers will go over the locations where and might park a vehicle. Then, pre-planned security measures will be developed that can later be implemented.
  • When transport is on its way, a good security company should provide anti-kidnapping strategies, such as armed or unarmed onboard escorts; unmarked escort vehicles, or are marked in some situations. Tracking technology can be part of this process as well.
  • Other parts of a layered security approach can include box trailers or anti-slash curtains and fixed parking instructions.
  • The goal should be disguising the fact that anything in a shipment is even worth stealing, so documentation should be generic. For example, there shouldn’t be any specific information about a shipper or who will receive the cargo.
  • A shipper should limit access to sensitive information within their company.
  • If you work with a professional security team, you want all guards trained and credentialed for frontline roles.

Other things to keep in mind

Whether you hire professional security or not, other things to keep in mind when you’re protecting cargo with a high value include:

Carefully check your insurance coverage

You need to know the extent of the liability coverage you have. If your liability policy only covers $300,000 and you’re moving something with a value of $500,000, you will have to make up for the gap. You need to know the maximum of your coverage, but you need to understand any exclusions fully. So, it’s impossible to develop a truly comprehensive security plan if you don’t know what your exposure could be.

When choosing a carrier or brokerage

No matter your insurance coverage or the steps you’re taking as far as security; you want to make sure that you’re selecting only the most reputable company. So ask the broker what their requirements are for insurance coverage and safety scores. You also want to know whether the fleet or owner-operator has familiarity with your industry and if they’ve ever transported similar shipments.

A high-value load might also be oversized

You may need specific permits in this case. You want to secure any necessary permits and escorts required to move cargo properly. The more details of a shipment you hammer out ahead of time, the less of a risk you will have from a driver making a last-minute decision that ends up being the wrong one.

Cargo theft is on the rise

So the carrier you choose to work with must use properly enclosed; and sealed trailers and your materials must, at a minimum, be shrink-wrapped. If you have a shipment that will need to park for a significant period of time, a security team should use 24-hour surveillance equipment.

Depending on your needs

You might need a third-party logistics company because transporting high-value freight can be complex. In addition, a third party can help you understand more about what the risks are and what your security needs could be for your particular cargo.

Current global issues like inflation and supply chain challenges could mean that cargo theft becomes even more problematic in the near term. These factors make it imperative that you work with a reputable security company, and have a plan for logistics if you need to transport anything of high value.