Innovations in airfreight screening
“Next-generation screening technologies have the potential to revolutionize the air cargo industry from packaging to final destination,” he says. “But these developments will require strong collaboration between the public and private sector to ensure optimal utilization and efficiencies.”
Technologies also need to be economical, according to Andrew Goldsmith, vice president of global marketing at Rapiscan Systems. After all, he says, “the greatest screening technology in the world is useless if the private industry can’t afford to use it.” Goldsmith projects that this rationale will lead to the utilization of outsourced, or “screening-as-a-service,” models as nations prepare to meet the TSA’s December deadline. He reveals that his company has already found great success implementing outsourced models in Puerto Rico and Mexico. Rapiscan officials are aiming to streamline screening and air cargo operations, helping to create a model for outsourced security.
Entities that can afford the newest screening technologies, however, have a variety of options. High-tech X-ray systems are arguably Rapiscan’s bread and butter, but Goldsmith sees a lot of promise in materials discrimination — a technology that will come to market very soon, he reveals. Goldsmith explains that materials discrimination allows systems to analyze the chemical makeup of freight, which, he says, tells cargo agents whether the content of the container matches up with the manifest.
Although freight agents can currently distinguish dense cargo from non-dense cargo, Goldsmith says materials discrimination modernizes the process. “In the future, thanks to materials discrimination, these same operators will be able to pick out specific narcotics or threats, allowing for far more sophisticated screening techniques than those used today,” he says. Along with adding another layer of security, this technology will also ease the burden on freight inspectors. It’s a win-win situation, Goldsmith says.
“Airports must select systems that not only properly inspect cargo, but are also operator-friendly,” he says. “If no one can use the screening technology, it doesn’t improve security, does it? Threat-detection software should be included in whatever system is selected, making it simple for operators to swiftly inspect cargo and identify potential threats in cargo images.”
Moving forward, however, Goldsmith says “integration” will be the buzzword in cargo screening. He envisions the global airfreight industry taking a cue from the maritime sector and better integrating their data management systems with screening technology. Such integration provides a layered approach to screening, Goldsmith says, “and it’s where we will likely see air cargo screening technology in the future — as an integrated piece of the cargo puzzle, rather than a standalone, separate system.”
And as cargo agents, governments and freight forwarders around the world prepare to meet the TSA’s rapidly approaching screening deadline, it’s a concept that will likely serve the industry well.