If you work for a manufacturer or distribution center of some kind, you know the importance of keeping goods safe during shipment. After all, it would cost your company a lot of money and headaches should items get tampered with during transit, especially if you don’t realize it until too late. Using security seals will give your company’s leadership team peace of mind and ensure that your goods ship safely.
High security truck seals in particular work well for securing shipments and providing evidence of tampering, but their names are a bit misleading. Before we get into too much detail about those seals, though, let’s first take a look at security seals in general.
What Are Security Seals Used For?
Security seals are contraptions that companies use to contain goods within a room or vehicle to keep items safe. They help protect business operations overall. Most commonly, companies will use these gizmos for shipping items. Some hold truck trailer doors closed, and they all provide evidence of tampering should someone try and even succeed at breaking into the cargo.
Each security seal comes with a unique serial number, which allows companies to more easily track these shipments. Regulations mandate that these serial numbers only be used one time (more on that later). Once goods reach their final destination, the seal is removed and usually disposed of. Most security seals can only be used once because taking them off often requires breaking them—which is part of their tamper-evident feature.
Tamper evidence is an important part of security seals because it protects your company from liability should someone or something mess with the seal. The biggest sign of tampering is a broken or damaged seal.
There are several different types of security seals, all varying based on features like the fastening mechanism, tensile strength (how much weight the seal can withstand), length, and use.
What Are the Different Types of Security Seals?
Security seals come in three main types and in three different levels of protection. The types are:
- Truck Seals: You would typically use this type on semi-truck trailer doors for tracking and tamper-evidence purposes. You can also fasten them to rail cars and bunk tankers. The truck seals from ZipTie.com come in plastic and are 7.5” long. They typically have a tensile strength of 60 pounds. To fasten them, loop the tail through both parts of the latch, and push the end of the tail into the head.
- Bolt Seals: These are the most heavy-duty of the seals. You would use these for international shipping or for shipping high-value goods because they adhere to ISO 17712 and C-TPAT regulations (more on that later). They are typically used on shipping containers, although you can also use them on trucks, railway cars, or tankers. They are made of metal and typically have a tensile strength of 3,000 pounds. To use, remove the bolt head from the bolt body. Slide the body through the latch, then push the head onto the bottom of the body until you hear a click. To remove them, you will need to use bolt cutters to remove this type of seal.
- Pull Tight Seals: These seals come in longer sizes than the other 2 types, ranging from 9-18”. They have a tensile strength of about 45 pounds. Because they are longer than the other types of seals, they work best for securing cargo shipped in tank trucks that have latches of more unique or wider shapes. They also work for rail cars, tote bags, and drums. They are made of plastic. To fasten it, place the tail through the latch and then through the locking mechanism. Pull the tail through the locking mechanism until you get the desired tightness.
Now that we’ve covered the types of seals, let’s look at the three different levels of protection that seals come in:
- Indicative: This level offers the least amount of protection in terms of how much tensile strength they can hold. Seals of this level are made of weak metal or plastic. You would usually use them for identification purposes only.
- Security: This level provides less protection than high security but more than indicative. You can use this level for a wider range of applications than the other two levels as well. They can be made of metal or plastic.
- High Security: This level offers the most protection. Because they are supposed to be the strongest, they must meet certain standards based on a country’s shipping regulations (more on that later). They are often made of metal.
Now that you’ve got a basic definition of the different types of truck seals, let’s take a closer look at high security truck seals in particular.
What Are High Security Truck Seals?
A common misconception is that a high security truck seal is a mechanism that holds semi-truck trailer doors closed, and that it has the highest tensile strength among truck seals. While this description matches the definitions we provided above, what most people think of when they search for high security truck seals are actually high security bolt seals. Bolt seals are the strongest of the seals, thus the highest security of all of them. Many shipping guidelines require that you fasten this type to containers transported internationally.
When we say highest security, we mean that they offer the biggest deterrent for suspicious persons to break through because they’re harder to remove. However, these seals are not made to keep people out. Rather, you use them for proof of tampering should any occur.
What Is ISO 17712?
ISO 17712 provides recommended procedures and guidelines from the International Organization for Standardization on:
- How to classify security seals
- What to accept as sufficient for security seals
- What to do when a security seal doesn’t meet standards
More specifically, they recommend that:
- A third party that is accredited based on ISO/IEC 17025 requirements checks the tensile strength of security seals. Each seal must be at the high-security level.
- Each seal has tamper-evident qualities. An accredited third party must check that seals have these features.
- Manufacturers track seals for auditing purposes—typically utilizing serial numbers. That’s why it’s imperative that serial numbers are not used more than once. An independent provider that specializes in ISO certification should check that manufacturers are complying with regulations.
These procedures apply to seals used on mechanical freight containers and shipped internationally. While ISO 17712 seal requirements are not mandatory to follow, many governing bodies around the world use them as the basis for their own regulations. One such body is U.S. Customs and Border Protection. They provide regulations for high security seals in their Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program and through separate security guidelines.
What Are C-TPAT Requirements?
The C-TPAT seal requirements aim to optimize cargo security during international trade and shipping. One such way they do that is by requiring that all high security seals adhere to the most current ISO 17712 standards. They also verify that seals used for international shipping are properly secured on containers and trucks. You should fasten these seals as soon as you place all goods in the container or truck to reduce the chances of easy tampering before you even ship goods out. Any vehicle used for shipping that can be sealed must be sealed.
C-TPAT takes it a step further by also requiring that shipping containers and trucks be inspected before they’re used and a seal is affixed to them. These inspections check for damage or loose doors, handles, brackets, etc. on containers and trucks to verify that they’re as safe as possible when you ship your goods. You can read more of the C-TPAT requirements here.
It is important to note that only those who partner with C-TPAT have to follow these requirements. Partners in this program agree to work with Customs and Border Protection “to protect the supply chain, identify security gaps, and implement specific security measures and best practices.” With that said, C-TPAT did help write the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s guidelines, so some similarities exist between the two sets of security criteria.
What Will Happen if a Container Arrives Without a High Security Seal?
If you sent a shipment with high security seals on your containers and it arrives at its destination without the seal or with a different one, two things could’ve happened. The first is that Customs checked it. In the U.S. in particular, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers will place your high security seal they removed in the container and fasten the container with their own seal. After inspection, they will then notify the appropriate parties—whether it be the carrier, your company, or someone else involved with shipment—to let you know that they inspected your goods.
The other possibility should your shipment arrive without its security seal is that someone attempted to or successfully entered your container. If you do not hear from Customs about checking your shipment, then you should start documenting what you notice. Contact the shipper, carrier, and your insurance company before entering the container. Wait until the shipper or carrier sends someone out to inspect inside. Take pictures of the broken seal if still on the container, of the container itself, and of the contents inside. Make note of what is missing and anything else you might notice is awry. You can use all this documentation to file a claim against the carrier if you feel it necessary.
While seals are meant to provide evidence of tampering and not necessarily to keep suspicious persons out of your shipments, you can use multiple seals of varying types and sizes to further deter entry.
How Do You Remove a High Security Truck Seal?
Once your shipment reaches its destination, the receiver will need a bolt cutter to remove a high security seal. When they cut, they should make sure to do so along the long part of the bolt seal and not on the head for best results. They should keep their arms and wrists in front of them and as straight as possible to avoid injury when cutting. They may also need eye protection in case a piece of the seal goes flying when they cut it.
For liability reasons, make sure high security truck seals removal is only conducted by authorized personnel. That person should be someone from your company. Do not let the truck driver remove it. If an unauthorized person cuts it off, it’ll be harder for you to tell whether the seal was tampered with during transit. It may also hinder your ability to successfully file and win a claim against the carrier.
Note that when you use high security seals for your shipment, they may not keep bad actors from accessing your shipment. You can use seals to discourage such attempts, but really you should put them on shipping containers and trucks to indicate whether your shipment was tampered with while in transit.
So where do you get these high security truck seals? At ZipTie.com!
Buy Truck Seals From ZipTie.com
If you’re in the market for truck seals, whether you need high security or identification ones, buy them at ZipTie.com. We offer both stock and custom seals. Our stock seals:
- Are ZipTie.com branded
- Ship as soon as same day
- Have a high visibility hot stamp
- Provide better value for lower quantities
If you would prefer seals that match your brand colors and include part of your company’s name in the serial number, then custom seals might be for you. These seals offer:
- A custom name on the seal
- The ability to add a barcode
- Better value for higher quantities
- Laser-etched serial numbers
- Shipment within 24-48 hours
What’s more, our high security truck seals are ISO 17712 compliant seals. You can be sure that you are getting high-quality, tamper-evident seals when you buy from us. Ready to take the plunge? Check out our bolt seals to order, or give us a call at +1(855)947-8433.