First off, it is important to be clear on what a seal is and what it is not. Unlike a lock, a seal is not intended to delay or discourage unauthorized entry. Instead, a seal is meant to leave behind unambiguous, nonerasable evidence of unauthorized access.

Tamper indicating seals / Container seals can have an important role to play in customs, non-proliferation, law enforcement, and counter-terrorism. Unfortunately, the tamper-indicating seals currently available, given how they are typically used, can be quickly and easily spoofed by almost anyone. High-tech electronic seals are not automatically better than simple mechanical seals, and are often worse.


Tamper indicating seals have been used by customs officials for over 7,000 years. Despite their antiquity and modern widespread use, however, there remains considerable confusion about seals, as well as a lot of misconceptions, wishful thinking, and poor practice. According to an extensive study done by the Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory :


of the 244 seals they studied could be defeated using low tech methods in less than 3 minutes.


Seals could be defeated by an amateur in less than 44 minutes.

There are different kinds of seals broadly divided into two categories : Passive seals and Active seals
Passive seals require a great deal of manual labor to inspect. Many seal users hope that by replacing passive seals with active (electronic or electrooptic) seals, or using high-tech seal readers, they can reduce the time and labor needed for inspection. However, the active seals and seal readers currently available tend to require more effort from seal installers and inspectors for a given level of security than simple mechanical seals. Some other crucial challenges faced in using Tamper indicating seals are as below :

  • Inaccuracy in locking/ unlocking data
  • Loss/ serial number duplication of Security Seals
  • Inventory overheads of maintenance and management
  • At least 105 different generic methods are available for potentially defeating a seal. These include, for example, picking the seal open without leaving evidence, counterfeiting the seal, replicating the seal at the factory, chang- ing the serial number, tampering with the database of seal serial numbers, drilling into the seal to allow interior manipulation and then repairing the hole, cutting the seal and repairing the damage, and not installing the correct seal in the first place and then later replacing it with the correct seal.
  • Container seals aren’t entry-proof and you shouldn’t rely on it to prevent theft. It’s main functions are to deter unauthorized entry and to determine if there’s been one by acting as evidence of tampering.

"The effectiveness of seals is strongly dependent on the proper protocols for using them. A sophisticated seal used poorly may be worse than useless if naively trusted. "

Vulnerability Assessment Team at Argonne National Laboratory

Our Solution

Cargo and Asset theft are a huge problem especially when container seals are depended upon and misunderstood to be a credible means of securing assets. The situation becomes especially dire when the said seals are used in industries where these assets may be nuclear weapons, fuel, oil or other expensive and dangerous resources. With OpenApp’s Automation system :

  • Access is scheduled ahead of time to automate process (can also be given in the moment).
  • Access log will tell the Operator details on when the lock was accessed, by whom thereby giving him control over Remote Access of moving material.
  • Location based Access to have a bird’s eye view, total control and visibility over moving assets.
  • Cost Saving is the biggest perk of OpenApp solutions over Security seals.

Price Comparison and Data Capture Analysis

Scenario 1 (OTL Locks)


Transit Depot




Trips per day


Doors per truck

Cost of OTL seal : INR. 12 in bulk pricing

Cost/day :

INR. 288

Cost/month :

INR. 6,912

Cost/year :

INR. 82,944

Unit Economics :

INR. 36 Cost/truck/day

Scenario 2 (OpenApp Latch)


Transit Depot




Trips per day


Doors per truck

Cost of OA : INR. 6,500 + 1,500 (Software Annual) = INR. 8,000 /truck

Cost/day :

INR. 176

Cost/6 day week :

INR. 1,056

Cost/month :

INR. 4,224

Cost/1st year :

INR. 50,688

Cost/2nd year @ Rs1,500 :

INR. 12,000

1st year Unit Economics :

INR. 22 Cost/truck/day

2nd year Unit Economics :

INR. 4 Cost/truck/day

@10,000 units

  • Spend on OTL (2 Years) : INR. 10,36,80,000 x 2 = INR. 20,73,60,000
  • Lifetime Value of OpenApp (2 Years) : INR. 7,48,80,000
  • Risk Management Cost (1% of pilferage saved in total shipment of Rs 1,000 Cr in a Year because of better control) = INR. 1,00,00,000 *

Total Earnings

Direct Savings

INR. 13,24,80,000


Pilferage Saved

INR. 1,00,00,000

= INR. 14,24,80,000

* Hypothetical

INR. 14,24,80,000 =

65 new trucks


Container Seals do not deter theft whatsoever. They are merely ‘tamper-indicating’ which means they are in no way deterring theft from taking place rather they just ‘indicate’ to authorities that a tamper attempt was made. Unfortunately, the nature of a seal is not known to many who confuse these as products that boost ‘security’

Furthermore, it is believed that these seals are a cheaper alternative. But, in reality, they are not, as elaborated above. To keep assets secure and safe from theft, OpenApp’s Access Technology is the absolute sure shot.

There’s more! Read next Use Case for Warehouses