Security is a critical factor in supply chain logistics, especially when handling “dual-use” items. If these items fall in the wrong hands, they can be sold illegally, or worse, used for nefarious means — such as developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
Oftentimes security is perceived as an impediment to supply chain efficiency because of added regulations, redundant checks, and extra steps.
In our project, we want to illustrate that security and efficiency are complementary — not competing — concepts.
We interviewed people involved in the chemical supply chain in Jamaica. We were particularly interested in the imports and exports of “dual-use” precursor chemicals, which have industrial uses (for detergents and lubricants) but also dangerous applications (such as to make chemical weapons).
We asked: how do personnel in each node within the supply chain balance operational efficiency and security? Do existing security measures muck up the process and impede business?
After interviewing 50 individuals — from freight forwarders, truckers, customs officials to high-level government representatives — we compared notes and developed process maps that visually tell the tale of the dual-use chemical supply chain in Jamaica.
The process took many days since perspectives on how the nodes interacted within the supply chain did not always match perfectly. We had gaps and sometimes conflicting narratives, which forced us to return to our sources to clarify. But once finished, we had 18 process maps that illustrated where operational efficiency and security gaps could be addressed.
We could not have pieced this information together without local engagement.
We worked with the Caribbean Maritime Institute to present our findings to the Kingston community. One of our recommendations is to streamline the front-end of the supply chain — the import/export permit application and approval process — such that the imports and exports of dual-use chemical items are reported and accounted for.
Providing clear guidance on what types of dual-use chemicals need what type of permits will also save importers and exporters time, energy, and money. Through our presentation, we illustrated how security and operational efficiency have a mutually beneficial relationship.
We also had the opportunity to present our work to students at the Caribbean Maritime Institute. We invited them to apply this approach to other supply chains of interest.
The Institute agreed to develop a graduate-level curriculum to teach students our methodology. We hope that they carry on the lessons beyond their education and into their careers as tradesmen and maritime security specialists.