As TAPA looks to 2020 and beyond, could a new Modular Standard be the certification route more and more companies are looking for?

All over the world, TAPA is respected for delivering the leading supply chain security standards.

They are mandatory minimum requirements in a growing number of contracts between Manufacturers and Logistics Service Providers (LSPs). They breed confidence in supply chain resilience. And, they are proven to reduce risk and prevent losses.

So, that’s it then. All sorted!? Far from it. The reason why TAPA Security Standards are so effective is because they are designed by the supply chain security industry for the industry, and they’re reviewed and updated every three years to address emerging threats and to look to simplify the Standards without, in any way, reducing their effectiveness. This is a process which every security professional in TAPA’s global membership is invited to participate in.

Adoption of TAPA’s Facility Security Requirements (FSR) and Trucking Security Requirements (TSR) reached the highest level in the Association’s 20-year history in 2017, with certifications rising 16.6% and 41.5% respectively, and the TAPA Security Standards footprint now extends to 60 countries in the Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) region alone.

While the current Standards are an undoubted success for companies which implement them, do they suit everyone? No. Can they be improved in the future? Yes. So, as we look to the next FSR and TSR revisions in 2020, are we talking evolution or revolution?

As a fast-growing Security Expert Network for everyone in the supply chain, it’s TAPA’s job to consider such questions, to ‘think outside the box’ and consider the pros and cons of any changes designed to deliver even greater value to its members and their customers. In terms of Security Standards, that job in EMEA falls to Luc Van Herck, TAPA EMEA BOD member, who led the development of the TSR Standard for EMEA and now, as part of the Standards Team, has the task of looking at ‘Future Standards’.

This month at TAPA EMEA’s conference in Warsaw, he presented the concept for a new Modular Standard and gave a compelling case for proposed changes designed to appeal to the widest possible audience of Manufacturers and LSPs. It’s still early days and any future Modular Standard would be required to follow a roadmap through the whole TAPA system of regional discussions, the Change Control Board process and, ultimately, World Wide Council approval. Nonetheless, right now, it’s interesting food for thought, as Luc explains …   

Back in 2010, when we started the TSR certification project, we came up with a version covering most of the immediate needs identified at that time, both for LSPs owning no trucks as well as true trucking companies.

Was it perfect? No. Was it covering all transport modes? No. Was it designed to pass the test of time? No. Was it covering all our members’ needs? No. It was simply the first version of something that clearly needed to grow … and it has.

In 2014, we gave in to the demand related to external locks on a TSR 1 truck and allowed a module for product tracking. These decisions were taken on the condition that it would lead to more certifications in the region requesting these changes.

Over time, the project on ‘Future Standards’ has actually turned more into a project on our ‘Future Standards Model’ and has led to what – for now – I am calling the ‘Modular Standard’ model.

The starting point for me was a simple question: is TAPA covering the end-to-end supply chain from a Standards perspective? Well, we have a Standard for transporting goods in FTL trailers, hard-sided and soft-sided. We also have a Standard for securing goods in a warehouse. And, now we have a third Standard for secure parking.

But does this cover the supply chain? I think we all know the answer to that. In my company, we produce products in factories that must all have C-TPAT or AEO status. But does this cover our security needs as we want it? Close but not all. We just need that extra 20% to cover security of product as well as anti-terrorism and customs issues.

We then truck, rail or float out the goods to ports – but not all in trailers. International product goes out in sea containers towards seaports, rail terminals etc.

This raises the question of whether today’s TSR covers the needs for secure container transport? Close but not entirely. It’s slightly different. I would say we just need another 5% to cover specific needs. Does PSR cover the security needs for leaving trailers behind before putting them on a train or a ferry? Most, but not all. The basic elements are there; fences, access control, CCTV but we need a bit more, mainly around liability transfer and temporary storage or handling.

These are just some examples to reinforce my point about the need to cover the end-to-end supply chain from a Standards perspective. As we have proven in all areas of our activities over the past 20 years, TAPA needs to continue adapting and growing in order to remain the leading Security Expert Network in supply chain security.

So, am I proposing we should think about doing away with our current Security Standards? Of course not! Over the years, with the support of its members, TAPA has created something meaningful, good and recognisable, and we did it together as an industry. This is unique.

TAPA’s FSR and TSR are very solid Security Standards and offer a perfect backbone to what could become a Modular Standard in the future.

For the ‘Future Standards’ project, I established some conditional targets:

-        Use the current TAPA Standards where possible

-        Simplify where possible

-        Avoid excessive work

-        Make it flexible, scalable and agile

-        Keep the TAPA identity/style

-        Must create value for members

-        Must create value for TAPA (expanding our footprint)

-        Keep it auditable and certifiable

-        Keep it cost efficient

So, the basic principle for a future Modular Standard would be to reduce the TSR or FSR to a core minimum of requirements and then to add modules to them according to the needs of the users. The modules would be a set of requirements that are inseparable and mandatory once you select them.

Let me give you an example: you are a trucking company which transports trailers but that also has container traffic. You would select the TSR Trailer module as well as the Container module and this would create a list of requirements for certification. Potentially, this would culminate in the production of a certificate listing the two modules.

Our Working Group has looked at two modules:

·       transport of sea containers

·       transport via rail or ferry

With the support of TAPA members – Essers, Duboc, DFDS, Schenker and BAS Logistics - we started working on these modules, which we identified as C-TSR (container TSR) and M-TSR (multimodal TSR), based on TSR 2017. For the C-TSR, we concluded that only six requirements from the existing TSR needed to be adapted, that’s six out of 97.

We followed the rules and concluded that having three levels did not make any sense. We considered only a need for C-TSR Levels 1 and 2 on the principle that if something does not add value, it is out.

The rest of this module consists mainly of:

-        requirements needed to protect the container without the possibility to open it

-        adapting the secure parking conditions as containers offer more physical security than trailers

-        clear transfer of liability on both ends; it is about moving a sealed box from A to B.

The M-TSR module would be based on the same principles, mainly focusing on liability transfer and the relationship between carrier and rail/ferry operators, as well as risk assessments on-site to ensure cooperation and a clear view on duty of care.

We have tested C-TSR with two TAPA member companies:

·       Transports Duboc from Le Havre - an exclusive container transport company with high standards but not able to apply for the existing TSR.

·       Essers from the Netherlands - already TAPA TSR certified for their trailer fleet on Levels 1, 2 and 3 but which also has important container traffic which it is not able to get certified.

Transports Duboc was audited in exactly the same way as a regular TSR audit: overall Policies and Procedures (P&P) were checked, the specific P&P were checked, specific equipment was checked, people were interviewed. The audit took about 6-7 hours, largely because it was a new process to the people involved.

Essers was only audited on the module and their audit took about 25 minutes for the P&P for this type of transport to be checked and then another 10 minutes or so to check the specific equipment in accordance with the TSR audit rules.

So, for the future, we proved that if a company needed two or more certificates, this can be done in one audit with no real extra costs and only an hour to a few hours in additional time. If a company wanted to expand its current certificate with an extra module, it could possibly be done in an alternative way avoiding live audits, such as using Skype, video conference, photographic evidence, email etc.

A future modular approach can offer great potential. It can also cover more modes of transport than just FTL trailers. Think about Last Mile delivery vans – true LTL transport: a custom-made module so no more tinkering of the existing TSR trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

It can cover more, based on purpose; i.e. an FSR remodelled to fit the specific needs of a factory, a P&P operation, a VAS facility, pure cross-dock, a destruction center, you name it. It can be done on the basis of our current FSR. Furthermore, it can fit the needs of an industry as a particular interest group, such as a module for the transport of tobacco, pharma, automotive, fashion, metals … anything is possible.

Today, I believe, for example, that still too many Buyers do not go for TAPA certification because TSR 1, for example, is not the full answer to their needs. In the future, extra modules can offer the solution.

And, finally, dare I say, maybe the use of modules can be a chance to overcome regional differences, such as a specific regional module on locks or GPS tracking.

But, there is a challenge. The Standards Team has limited, volunteer resources and is not set up for this. It will be TAPA’s members which help identify and come up with their industry needs by working as a group. TAPA will offer the platform, control the audit and certification process, offer training, and handle the secretariat issues that always come with a TAPA Security Standard programme.

To the different industries that make up TAPA’s membership, I say discuss and act as one. You are all facing the same issues. Give LSPs the chance to offer a certifiable solution to the whole industry using the TAPA model.

Even if you can reach only 90% of the industry with this certificate, it is far better than all the different Buyer compliance models and audits. It has the potential to save lots of time and lots of money.

We might even end up with a supply chain from A to Z covered by certifiable modules that also offers the opportunity for a Buyer to be TAPA Supply Chain Certified.

For now, this project is going to the World Wide Change Control Board (WWCCB) to be discussed. If you have any input, feel free to contact me via info@(*** please remove ***)

Ultimately, the Future Standards ‘ball’ is in your court.


-        Solid recognisable TAPA standards

-        Cost efficient from an audit perspective

-        Companies can excel in more than just one service

-        No need for excessive work (no need to start from scratch)

-        Add modules at your desired speed

-        Member groups can introduce expert standards

-        Growth in membership as TAPA will cover more industries

-        No change in the Security Standards model:

o   Multi-certifications

o   Current 3-year model preserved

o   Waiver committee process

o   Standards Secretariat support

o   Standards Team support