Think Making Money Is Hard? Try Moving It

The banking and financing industries are among the most sophisticated, automated businesses there are. Every day billions of dollars zip securely from the Federal Reserve to banks, who send it to other banks, who send it to customers, who send it back again.

The whole system is slick as slugs through a goose, right up to the point that someone has to touch the actual cash. Then all those encrypted, redundant, transaction-monitored systems give way to the same process used to haul supplies into your building or trash back out—truck drivers carrying bags full of stuff for delivery and signed slips of paper to prove they did it.

Loomis, Fargo & Co., the nation’s No. 2 armored-car company, would like to modernize the whole process and become more of a cash-management service than a delivery company.

Some of the things holding it back are physical—shifting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of change is hard to do without a little physical labor. Some are organizational: The Federal Reserve requires that some parts of the process be handled within its walls, so Loomis can’t shift parts of the operation onto its customers sites to reduce travel and lag time.

The toughest part, though, is getting an industry with strict rules and good justifications for them to adapt to new ways that owe less to muscle power than they do to slick logistics management.

Story Guide:

  • Making Change: It costs $110 billion a year to move cash around the country; there’s got to be an easier, cheaper way.
  • Most Logistics Problems Involve Less Shooting: Cash carriers that handle automation wrong could go out of business, but forgetting real-world dangers could get people killed, too.
  • Automating a Cash Warehouse: The place has computers, but the real work is done on paper.
  • Jumping Through the Fed’s Hoops: Pickup and delivery is inefficient enough, but add in a few extra stops so the Fed can keep an eye on things, and you add days of delays.
  • Vital Stats: Loomis, Fargo & Co.: Company size, challenges, goals, and how it will measure its progress.
  • Player Roster: Who’s moving, who’s shaking and what they’re shaking up.
  • Base Technologies: What they’re using to do what they’re doing, and what they’d use to do it better.