Among the most common application for large diameter cable seals is in-transit security of high value or cross boarder shipments across industries. Cable seals over 1/8th of an inch or 5mm are the minimum standard accepted for use by members of the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) a public private partnership between Customs and Border Patrol and companies that have an interest in cross boarder shipments. The seals can use a number of different metals for their bodies but the most common are zinc and aluminum with an attached steel cable.
In agriculture, we commonly see seals made of zinc used as they are typically more resilient to the elements especially the colder environments found in the Northern Plains and Midwest. Zinc bodied seals are somewhat easier to work within very cold temperatures which are more of a concern outside of production floors or factory environments. In this industry cable security seals are applied to rail cars, hopper cars, and tankers used in the transportation of commodities or products refined from agricultural goods.
Chemical applications typically call for smaller diameter seals unless there is a cross-border shipment that needs a C-TPAT Compliant Cable Seal. In many cases we see 1/16th inch or 1.5mm diameter seals used to seal drums or valves. For applications on drums end-users often secure the bolt and ring closure, feeding through the aperture to prevent tampering. This is similar to the application on values, where the cable is fed around the base of the valve to prevent changing its position. In either of these applications, individual numbering adds an additional layer of security so that the number can be logged to safeguard against tampering.
For food and beverage production cable seals are used in a number of different situations, most commonly to secure ingredients in compliance with governmental regulations. This can mean applying seals to valves on tanker cars, drums, or on shipping containers for bulk goods. Because of increased needs for tracking and traceability seals are often barcoded to reduce the likelihood of human error. Alternatively, some cable seals can be made with a removeable tag that can serve the same function in removing human error without the need for any supporting technology.
The logistics industry is a bit harder to pin down because often security requirements are dictated by customer needs. However, across the industry there is a desire to move things quickly and with as few errors as possible; to that end over-molded and barcoded cable seals are growing in popularity. Over-molded cable seals are your standard metal seals with a plastic casing to improve marking and readability by various barcode scanners. This type of seal is resistant to rust and less likely to have the marking tampered with than traditional painted or printed seals. In the logistics industry cable security seals are most often applied to rail cars, shipping containers, and truck doors.
In the manufacturing sector cable seal are frequently used in transportation or storage but are also often used for lock-out tag-out. In lock-out tag-out applications the standard is a smaller diameter cable seal that can fit through or around many different openings. The typical applications are access panels, valves, and storage facilities that need more security than a pad lock can offer. As these seals are made for onetime use and marked with a unique number they deter unauthorized access as they cannot be reapplied once cut.
Of course, there are many other applications for cable security seals across these and other industries. To better understand which seal will meet your needs you should ask yourself the following questions:
1) Will I be shipping this cross boarder? If so a larger diameter seal is typically recommended.
2) Are there any internal, industry, or government regulations that impact my need? This can dictate the need for specific diameters, lengths, or composition of the seals.
3) Am I using the most appropriate seal for this job? Depending on the application you might try adding barcodes, over-molds, or even a different metal to meet your needs.