R12-million drug bust at OR Tambo Airport

SARS Customs intercepted a male traveller from Tanzania carrying narcotics worth over R12-million at OR Tambo International Airport yesterday (24 January 2016).

The bust took place when the 36-year old man, who was carrying two large suitcases, was asked to put his luggage through the Customs scanner. The scanner image revealed 10 clear plastic bags that contained a white crystal substance.

Upon investigation this turned out to be 10 bags of Ephedrine. The total weight of the consignment was 40.20 kg with an estimated street value of R12 060 000. The man has been handed over to the South African Police Service and he is expected to appear in court. Source and photos: SARS

Rapiscan launches “Driverless” Cargo Inspection System

Rapiscan M60Rapiscan Systems has launched the new Driverless Eagle M60 cargo inspection system. It is a fully-automated vehicle screening system which can operate without the need of a driver and has been specifically designed to assist customs and border personnel in their detection of nuclear materials, explosives, weapons and contraband such as tobacco, alcohol and currency in trucks, cargo and containers.

Rapiscan’s driverless system requires no driver to be present during scanning, which the company says eradicates driver fatigue and driver work-shift changes; improves inspection rates and vehicle throughput; and removes risks associated with lone workers, health and safety incidents and potential human error. It can be driven on the road like a standard vehicle, allowing the unit to move between locations quickly and easily as required.

Once moved into position via a remote steering system, the M60 automatically detects two positional sensors — one placed at either end of the scan location. The positional sensors can be placed as far as 35 meters apart, allowing for oversized cargo or multiple units to be scanned in one pass.

As the scanning commences, additional sensors on the M60 make minor adjustments to the direction and position of the vehicle which ensures it consistently drives in a straight line between the two positional sensors. The system is designed not to deviate by more than 25mm from the center line.

The automated scan process is then monitored by a system operator who is housed in the M60’s onboard inspector’s office. This operator views the high resolution X-ray images produced by the system in real time.

Rapiscan was recently awarded two lucrative contracts for its vehicle and cargo inspection systems. On May 13, the company announced a $15 million order from an undisclosed Middle East customer. The order is for multiple Rapiscan Eagle M60 mobile inspection units, which the Driverless Eagle 360 is based on. This was followed by a $13 million order for an undisclosed “international customer,” again for Eagle inspection systems.

Rapiscan’s Eagle cargo and vehicle inspection systems are used by customs agencies, military organizations and homeland security operatives around the world. Eagle cargo and vehicle inspection systems use proprietary transmission X-ray technology that is able to penetrate well beyond the surface of a container or vehicle to provide comprehensive detection of threats.

A short film demonstrating the Driverless Eagle M60 in action can be seen here.

Latest US container 100% scanning postponement predictable

Rapiscan_m60UK freight forwarders have welcomed but are not surprised by the latest US postponement by two years of the implementation of new rules requiring all cargo containers entering the US to be security scanned prior to departure from overseas ports, with national association BIFA reiterating calls for the initiative to be abandoned.

Peter Quantrill, Director General of the British International Freight Association (BIFA), said it was “hardly surprising” to hear the recent news that the US had delayed the introduction of the new rules “amid questions over whether this is the best way to protect US ports”, calling the move “a healthy dose of common sense”.

Mr Quantrill commented: “As BIFA has said repeatedly, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has consistently underestimated the enormity of the task in hand relative to the costs both to the US government and foreign governments – as well as, importantly, the limited ability of contemporary screening technology to penetrate dense cargo, or large quantities of cargo in shipping containers.”

The deadline for implementation of 100% scanning of all inbound containers has already been delayed from 2012 to 1 July, 2014, and US Secretary for Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, who took over the role just six months ago, has now reportedly decided on another 24-month postponement.

BIFA’s comments follow the recent news of a letter from Thomas Carper, chairman of the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which suggested that the use of systems available to scan containers would have a negative impact on trade capacity and the flow of cargo.

Quantrill adds: “Media reports suggest that the US Government now doubts whether it would be able to implement the mandate of 100% scanning, even in the long term, and it would appear that it now shares BIFA’s long-standing opinion that it is not the best use of taxpayer resources to meet the USA’s port security and homeland security needs.

“We have always said that expanding screening with available technology would slow the flow of commerce and drive up costs to consumers without bringing significant security benefits.”

He continued: “Whilst the latest news of a two-year delay appears to be a healthy dose of common sense at the US Department of Homeland Security, BIFA still believes that the US Government ought to take an even bolder step and repeal the original legislation.

“That would be the most appropriate way to address this flawed provision and allow the Department and the industry to continue to focus on real solutions, including strengthened risk-based management systems to address any security gaps that remain in global supply chains.”  Source: Lloyds Loading List

Finance Ministry approves transition of destination inspection service from scanning providers to Nigeria Customs Service

NigerianCustoms-BadgeThis is a landmark and very brave decision by the Nigerian Government. All countries operating Build Operate Transfer (BOT) X-ray cargo scanning services should watch this development with interest.

Following the expiration of the Destination Inspection Contract Agreements between the Federal Government of Nigeria and Scanning Service Providers (SSPs), the President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces has directed the transition of Destination Inspection Service from contracted SSPs to the Nigeria Customs Service.

Accordingly, effective from 1st December 2013, Nigeria Customs Service has taken over full processing of all import transactions to Nigeria in accordance with the amended Import Guidelines of the Destination Inspection Scheme. Pursuant to this, all Scanning Service Providers (Cotecna, SGS and Global Scan) shall cease to approve new Form M, issue Risk Assessment Report (RAR) or perform Scanning operations for goods imported into Nigeria.

In international trade several destination countries require Pre-shipment inspection. Pre-shipment inspection, also called preshipment inspection or PSI, is a part of supply chain management and an important and reliable quality control method for checking goods’ quality while clients buy from the suppliers.

After ordering a number of articles, the buyer lets a third party control the ordered goods before they are dispatched to him. Normally an independent inspection company is assigned with the task of the PSI, as it is in the interest of the buyer that somebody not connected with the deal in any way verifies the amount and quality. This way the buyer makes sure, he gets the goods he paid for. Wikipedia

The SSPs shall handover all valid Form Ms and existing Valuation Database to the Nigeria Customs Service. However, the contract for provision of ICT infrastructural back up for the scheme currently being executed by Webb Fontaine is extended for a period of 18 months to ensure a smooth takeover by NCS.

As we enter this era, the Federal Ministry of Finance urges stakeholders and all Nigerians to give the Comptroller General of Customs and his team all the support necessary to manage a smooth and successful takeover. While no effort was spared in the build up to this process, we should all bear it in mind that transitions of this magnitude may throw up some implementation challenges. It will require the understanding of all Stakeholders to manage whatever initial challenges that may arise before the process fully stabilizes.

As part of the take-over plans, Help Desks and Dedicated Hotlines have been provided to enable Stakeholders and the general public channel complaints, observations and suggestions on the process to the Nigeria Customs Service. Help Desks are provided at Customs Headquarters, Abuja and other Commands across the Country. Such feedback can also be channeled directly through the following dedicated numbers: 09 4621597, 09 4621598 and 09 4621599.

The Ministry will like to convey the appreciation of Mr. President and all Nigerians to the Scanning Service Providers for services rendered to the Nation since the beginning of the Destination Inspection scheme in 2006.

Source: Businessnews.com.ng

100% Scanning – Have all the Options been considered?

Port of Oakland - VertiTainer's  crane mounted scanner solution employs advanced passive scanning technology and sophisticated identification algorithms to detect and identify gamma and neutron sources in shipping containers as they are loaded or discharged from a container ship.

Port of Oakland – VertiTainer’s crane mounted scanner solution employs advanced passive scanning technology and sophisticated identification algorithms to detect and identify gamma and neutron sources in shipping containers as they are loaded or discharged from a container ship.

While the question of mandatory weighing of containers features high on the International Maritime Organisations’ (IMO) list of priorities, a recent post “Container Weighing – industry solution on the horizon“, reminded me of a solution which has been around for some time now, but for various reasons would appear to have been overlooked by authorities – or so it would appear. Readers and followers of this blog may well already have viewed the feature on VeriTainer’s gantry crane mounted radiation detection and identification system, called the VeriSpreader® – refer to the New generation NII technology page of this Blog.

The spreader is a device used for lifting containers and unitized cargo. The spreader used for containers has a locking mechanism at each corner that attaches the four corners of the container. A spreader can be used on a container crane, a straddle carrier and with any other machinery to lift containers. (Wikipedia)

The recent maritime disaster involving the breaking-in-half, and eventual sinking of the MOL Comfort gave rise to the question of overloaded container boxes. While government and international security-minded organisations have pursued methods to address breaches in the supply chain, it would seem that little ‘innovation’ has been applied to the problem – specifically in regard to minimizing the time and cost of routing containers via purpose-built inspection facilities.

At least three known radiation incidents have hit the headlines in recent times – namely Port of Genoa (2010), Port Elizabeth, New Jersey (Feb, 2013), and the most recent in the Port of Voltri (July, 2013). Each of these incidents warranted an emergency response from authorities with a consequential impact on Port Operations.  Unfortunately, advanced risk management systems and other security safeguards did not alert suspicion, allowing these ‘threats’ into the heart of the port, not to mention the radiation threat to port workers?

It could be argued that since the inception of government-led supply chain security, 2002 onwards, many of the world’s supply chains have built in ‘possible inspection’ into their export lead times. A trip to a purpose-built inspection facility will normally require diverting transport from its predestined journey to a land border crossing or seaport. Moreover, lack of predictability often causes delays with possible loss of business where ‘security’ measures delay the movement of cargo.

Several Customs and Border authorities have instituted ‘export-led’ compliance programmes which seek to create better regulatory awareness and expectation for shippers. While not without merit, these still impose an inherent cost to trade where in some instances, shipper’s are compelled to institute ISO-type security standards which for some require dedicated and skilled experts to entrench and maintain these throughout the organisation. So, while the development of increasing levels of compliance amongst supply chain operators will occur over time, what of government ‘Non-Intrusive’ inspection capability?

Port Technology International‘s Feb 2013 article – Future X-Ray Inspection Equipment to be based on Industry Standards – opined that “future developments in cargo screening are likely to follow a common innovation trajectory that is fostered by market needs and new technology, while being strengthened by existing intellectual property and evolving industry standards. Innovation is often perceived as a circular path beginning with customer needs that are identified by a technology developer. The developer then creates application technology in the form of products to meet those needs”.

Land and rail-based cargo screening technology has improved immensely over the last 10 years with improved safety (shielding), throughput (speed) and portability. Engineers have likewise realized the need to ‘fuse’ imaging and radiation threat detection technologies, all offering a more cost-effective package to the end-user. These are by and large the Customs and Border authorities worldwide who protect our territorial waters and ports. Yet, the approach remains ‘modality driven’ which has ensured a period of predictability for designers and manufacturers, not to mention their revenue streams. Given the container weighing – port radiation threats discussed earlier, perhaps it is time now for transport and enforcement authorities to consider technologies as developed by VeriTainer and Lasstec and define a specification for “100%” needs – could this be uniform? Not unlike Lasstec’s container-weighing solution that allows the weighing of containers during the loading cycle so not to disrupt the work flow, Veritainer’s VeriRAD solution uses a gantry crane ‘spreader’ to house its unique solution with specific emphasis to mitigate the threat of a ‘dirty bomb’.

 

Future X-Ray Insepction Equipment to be based on Industry Standards

Smiths Detection HCV Scanner setup routine (Picture credit - Mercator Media)

Smiths Detection HCV Scanner setup routine (Picture credit – Mercator Media)

Innovative technology for the non-intrusive inspection of cargo and vehicles has rapidly emerged over the last decade to become a significant factor in port and border protection and homeland security. Several hundred high-energy mobile and fixed-site X-ray inspection stations are deployed throughout the world to examine passenger cars, trucks, trains, and shipping containers that transport goods bound for international destinations. Behind the scenes, cargo screening technology continues to be a story of innovation and change, driven by keen competition and a common mission to improve global security.

Early cargo screening systems were relatively slow and expensive to operate. They produced a limited resolution single-energy X-ray image, often using an isotope source such as Cobalt-60. The imaging software was rudimentary, and limited to simple controls such as pan and zoom, while computer processing speeds significantly limited inspection throughput. By contrast, most systems today are accelerator-based, which allows for higher energies, faster operation, and more precise controls. These systems incorporate software that takes advantage of improved computing platforms and features increasingly sophisticated analytics – this power has paved the way for the use of dual-energy accelerator sources and advanced detectors to facilitate material discrimination, enabling inspectors to identify threat objects more quickly, based on their composition.

Future developments in cargo screening are likely to follow a common innovation trajectory that is fostered by market needs and new technology, while being strengthened by existing intellectual property and evolving industry standards. Innovation is often perceived as a circular path beginning with customer needs that are identified by a technology developer. The developer then creates application technology in the form of products to meet those needs. With numerous competitors in the market, suppliers are motivated to continually improve their products. However, a more nuanced understanding incorporates the role of component technologies and the core capabilities of the technology developer. Each of these constituents influence and are influenced by their respective technology and regulatory standards, which then ultimately impact the products available to the customer. For the full report with diagrams, Click Here!

Component technologies and their standards are often driven by the needs of other markets and may only be tangentially connected with the market of interest. Consequently, developers often have minimal influence on these technology standards but will benefit by leveraging the investments already made by other organizations. ‘Components’ may be subassemblies (such as a computer graphics card) or entirely separate systems (such as a cloud computing service) that can be incorporated into a screening system to provide a complete customer solution. System providers benefit from these parallel technologies and component standards because they provide innovative insights and functional capabilities, such as interoperability, interchangeability, and known performance characteristics. In the case of cargo screening, there are many component technologies that are potential sources of future innovation. A few notable examples are described later in the report.

Because cargo screening is a youthful market with changing customer requirements and technology that is evolving to meet those requirements, existing industry standards are still in flux. This is beneficial for the cargo screening industry in that it provides ample room for innovation and development. As cargo screening technology continues to evolve and mature, the community will develop consensus in more areas and create additional standards. However, the standards process is slow and seldom speaks to the most current technology issues in an industry. For example, material discrimination is an important new feature offered by many cargo screening systems, yet there is little guidance from current industry standards to assess the performance of this technology. Source: www.porttechnology.org

Portable multi-purpose airport scanner

Flatscan portable scanner

Flatscan 27 portable scanner

Mondial Defence Systems provide the full range of CBRNe (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive) solutions to government, military and civil agencies.

The FlatScan 27 is a highly innovative flat portable battery-powered X-ray photodiodes system that has been specifically designed for high-speed and high-resolution inspection tasks. It incorporates a state-of-the-art 2D (two-dimensional) self-contained robust scanning detector, a laptop computer and a CP120B or CP160B portable constant potential X-ray generator to deliver real-time image processing. FlatScan 27 was developed in cooperation with specialised EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) teams and comprises various unique features, specifically to meet any emergency situation. The technology will predominantly be of interest for applications used by the military, police, prisons and customs.

The FlatScan 27 comprises a large number of unique technological features and delivers a versatile and highly thin detector (thickness of just 55mm). This detector means that large objects with dimensions up to as much as 535 x 412mm can be scanned in just one attempt, even in situations where they might be located in very inaccessible places (e.g. close to a wall).

Flatscan 27 providing material discrimination and conventional scanning capability

Flatscan 27 providing material discrimination and conventional scanning capability

Furthermore, the FlatScan 27 delivers an excellent image quality with a high penetration capability (up to 34mm of steel at 160kV, 0.5mA). This is possible as a result of its sensitivity, the 800 microns resolution and the ability it offers for slowing down the speed of the scanning detector.

The FlatScan technology can be extended through a variety of options including materials separation. This involves the colour coding of a package to indicate whether the components inside are organic or inorganic in nature. This option delivers extra insight to the operator when making an informed judgment relating to the contents of suspect objects or packages.

The detector is equipped with a battery that lasts for two hours, while the two X-ray source cells each enable the development of up to 200 images. It should be noted that in cases of long-lasting laboratory applications, both items can be powered by optional mains power supplies.

For quick on site intervention, the FlatScan 27 detector can be easily transported in a backpack, while all accessories are stored in a carrying case. For more information visit – http://www.mondial-defence.com

 

X-Ray Security Screening – Technologies & Global Market Outlook

Over the next five years, Homeland Security Research Corporation analysts forecast a growth at a CAGR of 10% of the global X-ray screening market, led by a dramatic expansion of the Chinese civil aviation (two out of three new airport projects are in mainland China) and internal security funding. Other key markets are terror-troubled India and the replacement market of the US and Europe.

Despite years of cutting edge weapon and explosives screening technologies RDT&E, there is no competitive modality on the horizon which challenges the cost-performance of 2D X-ray screening technologies. The global X-ray security screening market (including systems sales, service, and upgrades) is forecast to grow from $1.2 billion in 2011 to $1.9 billion by 2016.

The new report is the most comprehensive review of the multibillion dollar global X-ray security screening market available today. It analyses and forecasts the market by application, by geography and by business transaction. The report, segmented into 50 submarkets, offers for each submarket 2010-2011 data and 2012-2016 forecasts and analysis. In more than 300 pages, 90 tables and 150 figures, the report analyses and projects the 2012-2016 market and technologies from several perspectives, including:

  • Market forecast by application: Air cargo, Airport-cabin baggage, Secured facilities, Postal items, Supply chain cargo and People screening AIT
  • National and regional markets
  • X-Ray Technologies: conventional, backscatter, multi-view, coherent and dual energy x-ray
  • Systems sales, post warranty service and upgrade markets
  • Competitive environment: 16 leading vendors and their products
  • Market analysis: e.g., market drivers & inhibitors, SWOT analysis
  • Business environment: e.g., competitive analysis
  • Current and pipeline technologies

Source: Homeland Security Research Corporation