NORIT Americas manufacturing focuses on product security to maintain purity

Oct. 1, 2003
NORIT Americas Inc, Marshall, Texas, manufactures activated carbon for use in water purification, food processing, pharmaceutical, gas phase, and industrial

NORIT Americas Inc, Marshall, Texas, manufactures activated carbon for use in water purification, food processing, pharmaceutical, gas phase, and industrial markets. Given the heightened concerns in the United States about bioterrorism, the silent role the company plays in protecting the purity of its clients' products — such as drinking water — takes on an even more critical role.

The company uses hundreds of tank trucks and railcars each year to deliver product to customers. Every trailer and rail car is sealed before it leaves the NORIT facilities, and each security seal has its own serial number that is recorded on the bill of lading — and also is faxed or e-mailed ahead to the customer.

NORIT Americas has always been very security conscious and focused on process control in its operations to ensure its clients receive a pure activated carbon product for their needs. However, after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, even NORIT Americas decided to take extra steps to protect its products, its facilities, and its customers.

The decision to review the complete internal and external security tracking system after September 11 was dictated by a corporate-issued Emergency Management Plan, but readily embraced by each plant location, says Randy Powell, logistics manager for the NORIT Americas Marshall Plant.

“The ability to guarantee the purity of our product shipments for our customers is very important to us,” Powell says. “We have elected to increase the number of security seal points on each transportation vehicle, at our cost, as a service to our customers.”

Since September 11, NORIT Americas seal usage has tripled. The large increase is due partly to an increase in requests from customers, but mainly due to NORIT Americas' decision to be very proactive in ensuring the integrity of its product until it reaches the customers' hands.

“We now secure more sealing points on each vehicle,” Powell says. “It is a value-added service we want to provide to our customers because it is easier to ensure the product integrity than to deal with the potential of contamination.”

It is mandatory that every security seal be recorded and verified at both ends of the logistics chain before a shipment is accepted. If the integrity of any security seal is suspect, then the complete shipment can be rejected.

Some trucks and rail cars are exclusive to a customer account, and are used only for outgoing and incoming shipments of that customer's order. In some cases, customers decide to seal the vehicle for the return trip, and if so, the customer usually will supply the seals in these cases. The serial number of each security seal used on a shipment is also listed directly on a NORIT Certificate of Analysis (C-A).

Activated carbon is a resource for industries that require the removal of impurities or contaminants from their products. So, in addition to meeting National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) guidelines and standards, the NORIT lab tests each batch of material it produces and guarantees the product meets specification and customer requirements through issuance of its C-A, the company says.

NORIT selected TydenBrammall as its seal supplier, and uses the TydenBrammall EZ-Loc Seal for ease of application, serialization, and bar coding capabilities. The E-Z Loc Seal is manufactured of high tensile strength, galvanized non-preformed (NPC) aircraft cable, and corrosion resistant zinc casting serialized lock body.

NORIT Americas uses the E-Z Loc Seal on all the seal points of its transportation vehicles for both the outgoing and return shipments when required. The NPC cable is standard on all TydenBrammall cargo security cable seals and, according to Powell, NORIT Americas finds the presence of NPC cable to be an added benefit that immediately helps detect if any tampering has taken place with the security seal.

NPC cable frays wildly when cut, thereby preventing reuse of the seal by prohibiting the reinsertion of the cut cable back into the lock body.

In addition, the easy-to-read, laser-imprinted serial number on the EZ-Loc Seal allows verification of the serial number on every security seal.

In the past when NORIT Americas used a different type seal with the serial number cast or imprinted on the metal lock body, it would experience problems in harsh weather, extreme road conditions, or other types of abuse, because the seal could not be read and verified with the bill of lading. This brought rejection of the entire load and the difficulties of dealing with all the related problems of return, reverification of the product, and reshipment.

Controlling the distribution of seals in-house is another aspect of maintaining product security, says Ernie Wilson, warehouse supervisor. Seals are kept in a locked, controlled environment, and the serial numbers are meticulously logged before issuance and after application.

Since September 11, 2001, Wilson and his team have been responsible for securing 35-40 seal points on bulk trailers and 14 sealing points on each hopper rail car, including an additional 10 sealing points for each pressure and differential seal on the rail car.

Another security aspect applies to the truck drivers. Customers want to know more about the drivers of the trucks delivering their product. Many more companies are requiring two forms of identification, including a customer-issued identification and a commercial driver license. They want the driver identification information faxed to their offices prior to shipment. Driver identification and even background checks are especially important with municipalities where water purity is a major issue.

NORIT Americas also ships product internationally, as well as importing it from sister plants in the Netherlands and Scotland. On these shipments, NORIT will use “high-security” bolts to seal the cargo. According to Powell, the company is working with TydenBrammall and US Customs to review the proposed requirements for high security bolts that should be used on all ocean containers transiting US ports.

In conjunction with US Customs, a container security-working group has developed a draft ISO/PAS container bolt seal specification that incorporates a new definition of a high-security seal that should be used on international container shipments. This ISO/PAS proposal requires that, at a minimum, a seal must have an ASTM Class D rating on all performance tests to be classified as a high security seal. The American Society for Testing and Materials' F 1157 test standards for security seals are referenced in a new draft ISO/PAS container seal proposal.

TydenBrammall's 3/8-inch diameter rigid bolt seals, the Vu-Bolt and Cargo Bolt HS, meet the proposed ISO/PAS high security standard. These seals require a 3-foot-long bolt cutter for seal removal.

For greater protection, TydenBrammall's Super Bolt HS and Reusable Bolt Loc Seal feature a hardened bolt and lock body design for stronger pull-apart strength and bend test performance. These hardened seals require a serialized tool designed by TydenBrammall for removal.

In addition, NORIT Americas and TydenBrammall are looking into the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) program to foster education and information on the company's best practices in fighting cargo theft and terrorism. Future changes to security measures for NORIT Americas will be minimal because the company is already firmly in control of its product from beginning to end at the Marshall plant.

In addition to all the precautions they have implemented to protect the product in shipment to their customers, they are also very proactive in controlling the raw materials coming into their facilities from their suppliers. The company uses its own trucks to pick up the raw material it uses to produce the activated carbon from a lignite mine 10 miles from their operation. Some acids used in processing the activated carbon are purchased from outside suppliers, but these shipments are sealed for delivery so the integrity of the product from the vendor is assured.