The speed of business has exponentially accelerated the supply chain, and our members rely on a variety of vendors’ tools, technology, and services to help them make their departments and the flow of goods run effectively. Our Vendor Spotlight Series aims to highlight innovative companies and their C-Level leaders who are taking the industry to the next level when it comes to LP & security.
We recently caught up with Jeff Clark, Founder & CEO of 7PSolutions, a leader in cargo tracking technology, including real-time GPS tracking devices and software. Jeff is an industry veteran and has witnessed and led a transformation in how companies track, protect, and manage the transportation of goods.
ISCPO: Tell us your background and experience in supply chain protection.
Jeff: I spent 27 years managing global transportation companies, which included designing unique EDI and software functionality that provided enhanced supply chain visibility in the 90’s. In 2001 I was part of a team that participated in the early stages of C-TPAT as well as the Air Cargo Screening Program and the Indirect Air Carrier Program. In 2003 I left the transportation industry and was part of an eight (8) person team who started a company called BioStorage Technologies providing unique services in ultra-cold storage, inventory management and distribution of irreplaceable human clinical trial samples and clinical trial drug product. These two experiences raised the awareness of the need to protect the supply chain through the implementation of education and better tools for all stakeholders within the supply chain. In April 2010, I founded 7PSolutions with the vision to hold the supply chain accountable and ensure proper management of product integrity and protection of our clients’ brands.
ISCPO: How has the industry evolved over your tenure? Who has contributed to your success?
Jeff: When we started 7P we found that typical GPS services were not focused on supply chain visibility and were perceived to be more complicated than they actually were. In our early stages, it appeared to us that many users of these technologies had their service provider on-site or had them actually visit origin sites to place devices. It was our logistics experience and naivety that lead us to develop easy to use real-time GPS devices, combined with an event based GPS monitoring platform that was built around transportation management and supply chain. A service that the user could easily manage themselves. In our seven years in the industry, I believe the biggest changes we have seen is through our education of using the technologies for more than cargo security or product protection. The devices have not changed, GPS and the communications have not changed. The software application is the key to the services 7P provides. Since our beginnings, we have witnessed a change in how customers are managing GPS devices. Educating the customer has eliminated the need for the service provider to manage the devices on-site, which is a substantial reduction in cost. As well, we believe the options of how the customers manage their devices have changed; device ownership, replenishment programs, and disposable devices or a combination of these solutions help customers reduce and maintain cost.
In our seven years in the industry, I believe the biggest changes we have seen is through our education of using the technologies for more than cargo security or product protection. The devices have not changed, GPS and the communications have not changed. The software application is the key to the services 7P provides. Since our beginnings, we have witnessed a change in how customers are managing GPS devices. Educating the customer has eliminated the need for the service provider to manage the devices on-site, which is a substantial reduction in cost. As well, we believe the options of how the customers manage their devices have changed; device ownership, replenishment programs, and disposable devices or a combination of these solutions help customers reduce and maintain cost.
Early on in our business, our influences were Steve Covey, a cargo theft investigator with the Illinois State Police, now with the National Insurance Crime Bureau and Willie Morales who was with the TOMCATS and now Willie Morales Consulting. These two gentlemen educated us on the day to day challenges and concerns within the supply chain and the impact of cargo theft. Developing relationships with local, state, federal law enforcement agencies and cargo theft task force groups was an important factor of our beginnings. It provided us with additional education from a law enforcement perspective and allowed us to develop and build a strong network that provides us with Intel and assistance with recovery and investigations.
Additionally, John Tabor who now has ownership in 7P and is well-known in the cargo security and loss prevention arena. John’s early insight helped 7P better define client friendly solutions.
There are many influencers and we cannot name all of them, but we must acknowledge Maurizio Scrofani Vice President of Supply Chain Security and Intelligence at Grupo ALTO. A visionary, Maurizio’s experience, knowledge, and vision helped guide 7P to further develop true supply chain and risk management tools within our GPS RouteWatch platform which includes our unique EDI Google Map tracking and risk management tools.
ISCPO: What are the three most important elements a company must do to maintain a high standard of supply chain protection?
Jeff: First and foremost, utilize a layered approach using a combination of technologies and train staff and transportation providers on a “need to know” basis. This is a combination of covert GPS, C-TPAT compliant seals, various routes, and other confidential security protocols.
Secondly, understand what should be expected when using real-time GPS technologies and the associated challenges. This includes understanding the capabilities of individual GPS devices and how they meet your requirements. Do you require light detection, temperature monitoring, does the battery meet your transit times? Battery is also important. Many look only at the battery versus the transit time. One must consider if there is a cargo theft will the battery last through the recovery process. Daily there are many solutions being introduced to the market and although there are some very viable solutions there are many questionable solutions.
Third, is the utilization of a robust software platform, properly backed up by supported redundancies, history, and validation.
ISCPO: What are the biggest challenges (1-3) to supply chain protection & security you see from a holistic industry level?
Jeff: 1. How to implement and manage a global solution 2. How to properly manage GPS devices and training 3. Employee education and training.
ISPCO: Tell us a challenge you see facing many professionals in the industry today and how your product/service helps to solve this issue?
Jeff: With the complexity and speed of the just-in-time supply chain, it is more important than ever to have complete visibility of inventory and the associated risk of goods in transit. Companies who understand the challenges of using real-time GPS devices understand what a powerful tool this technology is. Our real-time GPS devices and RouteWatch software platform are utilized around the world, incorporating all modes of transportation. Today our RouteWatch SecureFlight software has been approved by over 35 global airlines with access to over 4,300 aircraft.
Our World Cargo Association Network allows us access to cargo security services and local regulations in over 6,400 offices and 190 countries. This network allows us to provide services around the world and local expertise in transportation and cargo security.
However real-time GPS cannot be utilized on every shipment within the supply chain and because of this, 7P provides a unique EDI supply chain visibility and risk management tool within our RouteWatch SaaS. Our EDI management tool also can combine shipments which contain GPS devices, giving the user a complete view of all inventory within the supply chain and associated risk levels.
ISCPO: Thanks Jeff for your insights.
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