Continuing with news on TNT, FTB Asia recently reported on the company's Asia road network and efforts to establish network security.
The article is by Chew Wai Yee out of Singapore and starts off with:
Just four months into the launch of its Asia Road Network, TNT Express has launched a security control centre in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, to monitor the company's integrated road network spanning across Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
Built at a cost of RM1m (US$275,000), the Asia Security Control and Command Centre (ASCCC) is located at its Malaysian operations centre and managed 24/7 by its team of security personnel in the country. The investment forms part of TNT's broader RM15m ($4m) earmarked for investments in Malaysia in 2006 which will include the upgrade and expansion of facilities in Johor Bahru, Penang and Kuala Lumpur International airport, scheduled for completion by the end of the year.
I have highlighted in the past how insufficient and underdeveloped cross-border road links to China's western, southern and northern borders basically ensures that air cargo is the primary choice for firms engaging in trade in these areas. TNT realizes appropriately that any economic infrastructure it puts in place must be paralleled by a security architecture:
The ASCCC is the security backbone for TNT's Asia Road Network (ARN), particularly for high-value goods in transit. The network was first introduced in December last year and aims to link over 120 cities across 4,000km once Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam are added later this year with access to more cities when the road network is expanded to include China by 2007.
Once regularly established, these links should be boon for 2nd and 3rd tier trade due to accessibility and lower costs:
According to TNT, the ARN offers businesses day-definite express delivery services at lower costs compared with air freight and transit times two to three times faster than sea freight.
Gerry Power, MD, TNT Malaysia, told reporters at the launch of the ASCCC that some of the company's air and sea freight customers had switched their transport modes to the ARN. The cost was probably 40% cheaper than air freight, he said. But "you can't be on the roads in Asia without taking security seriously, " he said, adding that "businesses dealing in hi-tech, high-value goods need the assurance that the transportation process is secure."The ASCCC was TNT's answer to that challenge, he claimed.
The physical and informational architecture being deployed is strategically intertwined:
TNT currently operates ten 40ft trucks, carrying cargo to and from Singapore, Thailand and parts of Malaysia. Utilising GPS technology, the ASCCC is touted as the only system in Malaysia able to monitor three countries at the same time.
A particular feature of its system is that the GPS modules are placed on both the trucks and the containers, ensuring that officers at the ASCCC are constantly monitoring the status of the cargo.
TNT's tracking system is also inbuilt with data on the security and safety record of specific locations. If, at any point, officers at the ASCCC suspect the security of the truck or the container is compromised, for instance when passing through hijack-prone locations, the system is able to stop the vehicle remotely using the GPS modules on the container/ trucks.
This road network's success and failures should be benchmarked by regions looking to implement, or in serious need of, similar systems.