2 Simple Steps to greatly Improve your Metal Security

Precious metal companies are all about security: vaults, cameras, airport-style body searches, all the way to special accounting and auditing measures – anything to prevent metals from getting lost or being stolen, the threats being both external and internal. And oftentimes, they are very good at it. The same is true for transportation where combinations of value and risk classes lead to determining the best ways of protection. What happens at the product’s destination is, however, an entirely different matter.

Precious metals are used by a very large number of very different industries: automotive and chemical catalysts, fertilizers, petrochemical catalysts, pharmaceutical catalysts, pharmaceutical drugs, decorative and technical plating, glass manufacturing, silverware, jewelry, consumer electronics, car components, synthetic fibers, solar cells, temperature sensors, writing utensils, laboratories, watches, batteries… this list could go on for quite a while, and it doesn’t even include companies involved in their recovery or recycling. Precious metals are everywhere but only few people realize it.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of companies around the world utilize precious metals on a daily basis without realizing their special exposure to theft or loss. After having visited literally hundreds of such companies, I can tell from experience that most users lock up their metals overnight, or for general storage. Security is, however, frequently minimal with shared and undocumented access to the place of storage. Storage locations are often determined by practicality and economics rather than efficacy. The same applies to video surveillance which is often outdated or absent, and comprehensive metal tracking to monitor internal losses or just excess inventory.

software solutionsRecent cases we investigated are a strong reminder that everyone is exposed, regardless of the composition of the product. Sadly, the majority of thefts is carried out by current of former employees, who may do it for personal gain but, more often than not, for emotional reasons such as a grudge against the company, the department manager, colleagues, or a general perception of injustice in the world. This group presents the most complex risks as it is familiar with both the product, and the facility.

Naturally, applying the same standards as precious metal companies is out of the question for most users, be it for reasons of cost or practicality. However, there are two very simple yet indispensable steps that cost almost nothing while greatly improving your metal security:

  1. Ownership

A single person, or a small group of people if you want to account for absence, takes complete control and ownership of the storage location. Nobody else has a key. Nothing moves in or out of the storage location without a receipt carrying a consecutive and logged number, signed by both owner and recipient. The metal owner’s duty at the end of every day is to take inventory.

  1. Metal tracking

Security needs to be on everybody’s mind, but it must also be somebody’s specific responsibility. All the receipts are sent to this person (or the company owner in small businesses) who will serve as a metal controller. The metal controller keeps track not only of the metal movements, but also of losses that will typically be incurred in most operations. My company BASIQ will be happy to sell you a cool piece of software to do this but, truth be told, a large number of companies might just as well use Excel or Access to get started rather than not do anything. Make sure you store all documentation outside of the relevant areas so it can’t be tampered with.

Implementing these two steps will draw a very effective base line in most operations, regardless of the shape or form in which you use precious metals.

Last not least I strongly recommend creating a positive work environment to prevent metal theft. It has been proven that hostile environments where all employees are treated as suspects will promote criminal behavior rather than deter it. Instead, think of contests or of handing out rewards for a month or year without losses, and post relevant data internally to raise conscience and awareness among your staff.

Happy to help if you would like my assistance!