Technology takes the lead in parcel delivery security


South Africans have embraced online shopping and mobile commerce, with the sector having exceeded R50 billion in spend during 2022. That proliferation has directly led to the growth of South Africa’s courier express parcel delivery industry – but there are others who have been eyeing this growth, looking for ways to take advantage of this rapidly growing ecosystem.

Those opportunists are the country’s criminals, who are constantly looking for potential gaps along the delivery chain to take advantage of vulnerabilities to achieve their nefarious ends. In the past, their crimes have varied from intercepting parcels of designer goods and removing contents to swap out for fakes so that the originals could be sold, to delivery drivers being hijacked at the point of delivery, with their phone or vehicle being stolen. 

A delivery at a home also highlights to passers-by that someone inside will be opening the gate and will likely be distracted by signing for their parcel, presenting the opportunity to gain access and ransack the home. 

There’s just no way that the country’s crime prevention services or security companies could be involved in every delivery, from fulfillment and dispatch to arrival at its destination. That’s why technology has become the leading crime prevention officer in the express delivery industry – and why DPD Laser has drawn on the insights and experience of its global network, designing and implementing a raft of safety and security solutions to protect its customers’ precious cargo, drivers, and everyone receiving packages. 

“There’s an extensive and sophisticated system and sequence of events designed to protect every collection and delivery that’s seldom seen by our customers or their clients,” explains Devon Light,  International Executive at DPD Laser. “Even though the system is invisible to everyone along the way, its results are tangible, as the parcels were entrusted with make it to their final destination safely and on time.” 

Start with the security before the beginning

Before a fulfilled package is collected, load plans are shared with the 24-hour control room, with details including a full plan of the intended delivery, along with driver and vehicle information. 

Before each trip, every vehicle’s tracking units are tested to make sure that their one-minute-interval tracking capability is fully active. In line with international standards in tracking technology, the control room is the only party that knows where the tracker is located on each vehicle.

The control room monitors all line haul movements from the point of origin until the parcel reaches its destination, carefully keeping an eye on transit times. At the same time, the control room monitors traffic and other incident reporting, so that vehicles can be diverted, in real time, away from accidents and other issues that could make them vulnerable. This technology was put into good use during the July 2021 unrest, when vehicles and drivers were kept safe from violence and looters. 

“The safety of our drivers is our top priority, which is why every driver has a panic button linked to armed response,” Light says. “Our tracking and monitoring system is immune to signal jamming too, making sure that we keep track of our drivers and their vehicles, wherever they are.” 

Should a customer request it, DPD Laser can deploy an armed escort for a delivery from door to door, including trained and armed personnel and unmarked vehicles equipped with outer and inner view camera systems. These units have their own mobile asset tracking unit that can be deployed on request too. 

Keep the last mile – and recipients – safe from harm

Last mile delivery vehicles are also fitted with vehicle tracking units, whether owned by DPD Laser or a contractor, and are just as closely tracked by the DPD Laser control centre as those that originally collected items for delivery. 

DPD Laser frequently engages with law enforcement and with other players in the industry to share information about crime hotspots, so that it can plan trips accordingly. Furthermore, should a delivery contain a high-risk item, or be destined for an identified high-risk area, the delivery vehicle can be supported with an unmarked armed security escort, should the client choose that option.

It is a sad reality that South Africa has one of the highest crime rates in the world, and that every business and industry has had to design and create effective responses to that. DPD Laser’s proactive response keeps parcels and the people that deliver and receive them safe, making sure that the country’s e-commerce boom can continue to stimulate the economy at a macro level, and providing peace of mind to online retailers and their customers that every package will be delivered, safely and on time.

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