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The Road Ahead for Freight Security: Expert Insights From the Future of Freight Festival

December 15, 2023

February 5, 2024

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x min read

The freight industry, often considered the backbone of global commerce, is currently wrestling with a range of complex challenges—from heightened security threats to operational difficulties. In this context, a thought-provoking fireside chat at the FreightWaves Future of Freight Festival brought to light these pressing issues—and potential innovations reshaping the industry and supply chain as a whole.

Michael Caney from Highway and Richie Daigle of Tive, two seasoned industry experts, led this insightful discussion with invaluable insights. With his deep experience in logistics and transportation, Caney shared insights into the multifaceted challenges faced by the freight industry, especially in operations and security. Daigle, known for his freight technology and security expertise, offered a glimpse into the future possibilities and advancements in the sector. Their combined perspectives during this session not only shed light on the current state of freight operations, but also laid a pathway for groundbreaking solutions.

The Rising Challenge of Freight Security

The biggest theme from the fireside chat was the escalating challenges in freight security. Caney and Daigle discussed various aspects of this issue, drawing from their extensive experience in the field. Here are some key takeaways from their conversation:

  • 600% Increase in theft: The discussion opened with a startling statistic: there has been a 600% year-over-year increase in strategic cargo theft. And this alarming rise is not limited to outright theft. It also encompasses broader fraud and security issues such as transloading and tampering with reefer units.
  • Impact on the economic environment: Both speakers agreed that the current economic climate, characterized by low freight rates and a rising cost of living, contributes to increased theft and fraud. People are finding creative, albeit illegal, ways to make money—including breaking rules in the freight industry.
  • Trust erosion and double brokering: Caney highlighted how trust erosion is rampant in the industry, exacerbated by practices like double brokering. The downturn in freight has pushed some to more extreme measures, such as holding freight hostage
  • Security overhaul: Both speakers emphasized that traditional tools might not be effective against modern challenges—and there is a need for innovative security measures and technologies to combat the evolving nature of these threats.
  • Redundancy and real-time monitoring: Daigle underscored the importance of redundancy in security measures, including using technology for real-time cargo tracking and monitoring. This approach is crucial, especially for high-value freight—enabling immediate action against thefts in progress.

Addressing Double Brokering & Trust Issues

Now, let's take a closer look at two pressing issues in the freight industry that coincide with the security threats: double brokering and the erosion of trust.

​​The Impact of Double Brokering

Double brokering, simply put, is a fraudulent practice in which a freight broker illegally re-brokers a load to another company without the knowledge or consent of the original party. In his discussion, Caney highlights how this issue, often overlooked in prosperous times, has escalated into a significant problem in the freight industry. He explains that in the face of economic downturns, some companies resort to unethical practices such as double brokering to sustain profits. This behavior not only complicates operations but also fosters a culture where such malpractices become increasingly normalized—leading to broader operational and trust issues.

Erosion of Trust in the Freight Industry

Caney then explores the challenge of trust erosion in the freight industry. The recurrent instances of fraud—particularly through practices like double brokering—have led to a cautious and often skeptical approach within the industry. Establishing trust between freight brokers and vendors becomes arduous in such an environment. Caney emphasizes the critical need for verifying the identity and legitimacy of carriers, pointingout that freight brokers must ascertain three crucial aspects of a carrier: their identity, legitimacy, and control over their equipment. This verification process is essential—not just as a procedural step, but as a vital measure in rebuilding trust and ensuring the seamless functioning of the freight industry.

Innovative Solutions to Freight Security Challenges

The conversation then turned optimistic as Caney and Daigle discussed innovative solutions to the aforementioned challenges.

Implementing Redundancy  

The need for redundancy in securing freight operations was a key focus, and Daigle emphasized the importance of building resilient systems through redundancy. Doing so successfully involves utilizing tools such as those offered by Highway, which act as a first layer to filter out bad actors and verify carrier legitimacy. The idea is to create multiple layers of security checks to ensure the integrity of the freight process. Daigle also pointed out simply tracking trucks and trailers is no longer sufficient, especially for high-value freight sensitive to temperature changes or with high risk of theft.

The Important Role of Automation

Another topic Caney stressed is the role of automation in enhancing freight security. Why? Because automation in the verification process is crucial in adapting to the freight industry's ever-changing “attack vectors.” By automating the vetting process, companies can more effectively keep up with new threats—and reduce overall costs. Caney further noted that today's challenges require innovative tools that can adapt quickly to new threats, underscoring the importance of evolving security measures to match the dynamic nature of the freight industry.

Tracking & Monitoring for Enhanced Security

The role of technology in tracking cargo and ensuring security was another significant point of discussion. Daigle highlighted how real-time tracking and monitoring technologies are vital when it comes to preventing theft and loss. He mentioned that light alerts from tracking devices have exposed actual thefts in progress, allowing for immediate action to safeguard the freight. This level of monitoring ensures that intervention can occur at the earliest possible stage, significantly reducing the likelihood of loss or damage.

Economic Strategies & Success in Freight Security

Caney and Daigle wrapped up their chat, focusing on the critical balance between enhancing security and managing costs.

Balancing Cost & Security

Caney and Daigle explored the economic impact of heightened security measures in freight operations, discussing how incorporating advanced security systems—while initially costly—can lead to significant long-term savings. Emphasizing the role of automation and smart technologies, Daigle illustrated how these innovations streamline operations, reducing manual labor and the potential for errors. Companies can enhance security by effectively implementing these technologies while simultaneously achieving cost effectiveness.

Real-World Benefits

Caney and Daigle were also quick to highlight the overall benefits seen by companies that have adopted advanced security measures, including significant reductions in theft and loss—leading to improved profitability and customer satisfaction. The successes underscored the effectiveness of these security measures in real-world scenarios, reinforcing the importance of investing in technology to safeguard freight operations.

Charting the Future of Freight Security

As the fireside chat at the FreightWaves Future of Freight Festival drew to a close, the insights shared by Michael Caney and Richie Daigle left a lasting impression—underscoring the evolving world of freight security.

Caney and Daigle brought everything to life in their engaging discussion. They candidly spoke about the rising tide of freight theft, the tricky business of double brokering, and the critical issue of trust erosion plaguing the industry. They also took a deep dive into solutions such as smarter technology and automation, highlighting how these can be game-changers when it comes to balancing cost and efficiency.

What resonated most was their call to embrace change and innovation. They painted a hopeful picture of a future in which advanced technology not only tightens security—it smooths out operations, leading to a stronger, more resilient freight industry. This conversation went beyond simply being informative; it was inspiring, and served as a blueprint to guide the industry toward a smarter, safer future.

You can watch and listen to the full discussion here.

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