Security Seals – What’s the Big Deal?

When it comes to transporting goods, security seals can make all the difference. Designed to help detect theft or contamination (either accidental or deliberate), they are considered an inexpensive way of providing tamper evidence or evidence of intrusion into “sensitive spaces”. Depending on the material used and the design of the seal, they also provide some level of security.

Applications include sealing of containers, valves, gates, doors, meters, trolleys, tankers, drums, keys, vehicles, cages, boxes, bags, sacks, hazardous waste, legal evidence, and fire extinguishers. A slightly different application is when seals are used for asset tagging.

Spoilt for choice! Which type of seal do you need?

  1. Metal seals usually have a high level of security. They include:

–       Bolt seals used to secure shipping containers, trucks, and trailers.

–       Balls seals used for securing trucks.

–       Cable seals which are more versatile and come in different lengths for different applications.

–       Tin clip seals used in conjunction with sealing wire. They are versatile and easy to use.

  1. Plastic seals include variable length seals, fixed length seals, padlock seals, meter seals, and special adhesive tapes/labels. They commonly made from polypropylene or nylon, and some may also have internal metal locking parts.
  2. Variable length seals, commonly called “pull tight seals” can fit many applications from securing the neck of a bag or mail sack to sealing chemical drums, first aid kits, and fire extinguishers. They have an adjustable length much like a cable tie but offer a much higher security level and an audit trail.
  3. Fixed length seals tend to be more tamper resistant than variable length ones as there are no sliding parts. They simply ‘click’ into place to lock, which can make them easier to fit than variable length seals.
  4. Padlock seals are usually supplied as a completely plastic seal, shaped as a standard padlock would be. Technically, they can be classed as a fixed length seal. The most common use for these seals is for airline duty-free trolleys. One reason for this is that plastic padlocks can be placed over a locking part, as any metal padlock would be, but they do not require keys to open. They simply break off at their built-in break point, by hand or with a small pair of wire cutters.
  5. Meter seals are used with electric or gas or water meters and usually molded in polycarbonate. The transparent body of the seal means that the locking mechanism is visible, providing a clear indication of tampering. Meter seals can withstand exposure to sunlight and extreme weather, and a wide range of temperatures. Designed for a single use, they are destroyed when removed. Some meter seals contain components which glow under ultraviolet light, allowing the seal to be easily located in darkness.
  6. Special adhesive tapes and labels have high bond-strength adhesives in combination with backing and are designed to fracture or delaminate under designated conditions to indicate premature attempts at opening.

Seals can be individualised to fit the needs of the user. Typical marking includes branding, barcoding, and consecutive numbering. These provide tamper evidence and an audit trail. There are several technologies for individualising in use, including hot stamping, ink jet printing, laser engraving, and thermal printing.

Note – seal it right!

The effectiveness of a seal is strongly dependent on the proper protocol. Protocols include the official and unofficial procedures for seal procurement, storage, record keeping, installation, inspection, removal, disposal, reporting, interpreting findings, and training. With a good protocol, a modest seal can provide excellent security. But, be warned – a sophisticated seal that has not been properly secured may be worse than useless!

View our full range of Security Seals here.

Quality guaranteed! Rigana has BEE Level 1 certification, ISO 9001 accreditation, and an in-house quality assurance department, ensuring that we offer our customers only best.