As the benchmark supply chain security standard for facilities, TAPA’s Facility Security Requirements (FSR) are now being adopted at more locations around the world than at any time in the Association’s 22-year history.

 One of the latest and biggest facilities to be awarded TAPA FSR A certification is the 225,000 square metre warehouse operation and cross-dock centre of integrated logistics company Ekol in Turkey, where its clients include major retailers, healthcare and electrical companies.

Vigilant talked to the company’s PMO Manager, Murat Türkçelik, about the challenges of gaining TAPA’s highest FSR certification for such a large facility and the approach the company took to successfully meet the Association’s security requirements.

Founded in 1990, Ekol operates over 1m sq mt of distribution centres in 14 countries. This included its TAPA FSR B-certified, 65,000 sq mt ‘Orkide’ facility, so when it moved from there to its new 245-dock ‘Lotus’ facility in the district of Kocaeli Province in the Marmara region of Turkey two years ago, it always intended to once again use FSR at the heart of its security programme and to step up to Level A of the Association’s requirements. 

“Lotus is our exclusive facility for our clients and we wanted it to meet the highest levels of certification for security, fire safety and environmental compliance. We began our preparations for FSR A approximately two years ago and, as a new facility, we were able to design TAPA’s requirements for FSR A into the building’s design process, including main investments such as the facility’s CCTV and access control systems,” Murat says.

One of the biggest challenges was meeting the security requirements for a facility with so many cargo doors. Murat adds: “The Lotus facility has 245 docks, which made it challenging to take decisions, apply any changes, and to control and test changes relating to the dock doors and openings. The sheer size of the building made the validation processes hard as did working with, and coordinating, different contractors for different systems, so we had to change our TAPA audit date a couple of times to ensure we were ready.”

Ekol’s TAPA FSR A certification programme was managed by an internal project team consisting of members from different departments of the company, led by Murat as PMO Manager.

“Some requirements of FSR A are really tough to meet so we needed to make specific modifications to the building, such as changing the locations of some doors, covering all tilted windows with a fence coverage, etc. Following the TAPA FSR requirements forced us to see all risky points and weaknesses and to cover all of these. It was a guide for having a secure building and keeping the facility secure for years to come.”

As part of its preparations, Ekol carried out a pre-audit with the TAPA auditor, Scott Swanson of Bureau Veritas, one year before the main audit. This gave Scott the opportunity to familiarise himself with the building and, even more importantly, enabled Ekol to create a gap analysis report to focus on ahead of its main audit.

Now, having successfully completed its FSR A certification, Ekol is able to focus on the business advantages TAPA certification offers.

Murat says: “Security is one of the most important requirements potential clients want us to meet. Having our TAPA FSR Level A certificate for our Lotus facility places Ekol one step ahead of many of our competitors. Another benefit is that the existing clients we serve in Lotus don't need to conduct their own individual security audits while we have TAPA A certification.

“Our customers are glad to be served in such a secure facility and they feel confident that their products are in secure hands. Also, customers who know what it takes to meet the TAPA FSR A requirements have congratulated us for our achievement. We absolutely believe meeting the Level A standard will help us to win more business. In RFI and tender forms from companies, we can confidently answer questions about security requirements by referring to our TAPA FSR A certificate, which also reinforces Ekol's commitment to meeting the highest global standards as well as our ability to achieve challenging goals.” 

How much easier is it to meet the TAPA Standard when you are opening a new building?

“It depends on the business case behind the decision to build a new warehouse. We are much more aware of the FSR requirements and we have lots of lessons learned. We included all this know-how into our design and planning processes. In the future, when we decide to build a new facility with high security, it will be easier to meet TAPA Standard.”

Looking to the future, Ekol is planning to meet TAPA’s Trucking Security Requirements (TSR) within the next couple of years to support its large transport fleet too.

So, what is the best advice Murat can offer to other companies getting ready to TAPA certify a major logistics facility?

“Organising a gap analysis with the participation of the auditor helped us a lot. Each facility has its own specific complexities and doing a brainstorming exercise with the auditor on site may be helpful for them also. Such complexities are much more in large facilities.”