containers stored in a port with serial numbers

Container Seal Number Tracking Made Easy with a Serial Number Scanner

Thomas Mörtl Zimmerer

Account Executive at Anyline

May 04, 2022

Organizations shipping a container need to ensure their merchandise is secure. If shipping through FCL or LCL shipping, one requirement is to ensure a container seal is placed on the container. This helps you to know that the container is properly locked and closed.

Whenever a company sends a container like this, it needs to record the seal number on the Bill of Lading. This notation is a type of receipt for the freight service. It works just as a contract would between the shipper and the freight carrier. It is a legally binding document that provides all necessary details to process the freight shipment that the driver or the carrier needs to have. It also helps ensure proper invoicing.

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Why are container seal numbers so important?

The container seal has an identification number on it. That number needs to accurately reflect the number placed on the Bill of Lading. Before the container is opened at any point, the seal number is checked against the Bill of Lading to ensure it matches.

Container seals ensure that containers haven’t been opened

These seals are important, but they are not entry proof. You should not assume that they will provide full protection against theft. Rather, they work to deter unauthorized entry and help show if there is any evidence of tampering should the seal have damage to it. If there is any tampering with the seal, that does not mean that theft has occurred, as it could have been done through a customs inspection. When a custom inspection like this happens in the U.S., the customs official will place a new seal on it showing who opened the container.

Recipients need to make sure the seal hasn’t been tampered

In some cases, there is no evidence of a broken seal from customs, but there is still evidence to suggest that someone opened or tampered with the container. It’s important to verify it was not tampered with by anyone else. The only way to do that is to check the container seal number to ensure it matches the Bill of Lading.

A mismatched seal number might delay shipping

Many customs authorities do a good job of ensuring that the seal numbers match. If there is no match of the seal numbers, the cargo in the container may be delayed from being released. Additionally, there may be a heavy fine associated with the process.

How human errors get in the way

The seal is an essential component for shippers, customs, and recipients. It shows that everything is fine and tracked correctly with the container. It helps show the merchandise within has not been tampered with.

Yet, a common problem is that humans make mistakes, especially when manually reading and recording seal numbers. Consider a few common problems:

  • Transcription errors are common. They occur when information is entered in the wrong manner. This may include repetition, typos, and deletion. Whenever someone is rushing, they are at risk of inputting the wrong data. It’s easy to miss this type of error.
  • Transposition errors occur when information is entered in the wrong order, such as numbers being switched. This also happens when people are rushing, especially when working with serial numbers or long combinations of letters and numbers.

If a seal isn’t recorded properly, it loses all value. The container recipient and the customs officials will assume the seal was altered. That leads to delays in verifying merchandise and potential fines.

How to integrate a serial number scanner in your organization

Integrating Anyline’s mobile serial number scanning solution into an operation is simple. It allows for mobile device use with a simple camera. It also functions reliably in poor conditions, such as in low light situations. It’s compatible with iOS, Android, Windows 10, and more. It supports cross-platform integration frameworks like Xamarin, React-Native, and Cordova.

The serial number scanning SDK can be integrated into any existing system, eliminating the need for multiple devices in the supply chain. It even works when there is no internet connectivity.

Not only that but it can also be leveraged with a web-based solution thanks to the AnylineJS, too. For more information on integrating Anyline scanning, contact us today.