Tag Archives: EDI

8 Things To Remember When Starting With EDI

Oh my goodness! I’m faced with choosing an EDI solution! Where do I turn? I just don’t know any of these companies. It is often a daunting task for many businesses, especially those who have little or no experience with EDI. Many companies become familiar with the technology only after being informed by a major trading partner of the need to be EDI compliant. Here are a few key points to consider when choosing an EDI solution:

Your Checklist
Your Checklist

The realities of today’s IoT market


The Internet of Things (IoT) is being touted as the next frontier for manufacturers that want to connect not only with their physical resources but also with their customers. By tying into the IoT, companies can instantly access real-time information on assets halfway across the globe and make faster and better-informed decisions. But despite the potential benefits of the IoT, industry analysts suggest that the technology may not be a good fit — or even fit at all — for the average manufacturer.

 Growth — or lack thereof — of radio frequency identification (RFID) as a parallel to IoT’s adoption challenges. Industry hype around RFID has lasted for years, but factors such as cost and project size have prevented adoption from climbing as fast as vendors suggested. Manufacturers are still asking, “Why can’t we just keep using barcodes?” In light of this, the onus really falls on vendors to prove the value of IoT investment to their customers.

It’s a classic market problem: Vendors who are interested in [IoT] have this notion that, ‘why wouldn’t you want to instrument everything you have?’ The buyers, however, are still unsure why they should change how they detect and respond to problems. They’re wondering if they really need to be able to monitor things in real-time”

Most companies who are consumer focused — manufacturers, distributors, retailers — certainly see it as an eventual opportunity, but, right now, a lot of [IoT] is very experimental. IoT has the most potential in asset management and production monitoring.

What’s the difference between tracking individual items using IoT technology and RFID technology? Aside from the costs associated with each – Oh wait! It’s the costs of each that ‘s keeping both from gaining ground. Both technologies can provide item level identification but RFID can now be considered ‘old’ tech while IoT (Internet of Things) is the current darling of the development world. Here’s what I see happening over the next few years.

You already know that IoT is a term used to loosely identify items that have been imbued with enough intelligence and communication abilities to send messages across the internet. First of all, this means that these items are not human in the ways we normally think of humans using computers to send information via the Internet. But that doesn’t mean that some of these ‘things’ can’t be humans, or at least humans carrying with devices that do the communicating for them. The connections and the information are triggered by conditions as they change.

That information is transmitted using some kind of message format. It’s likely that the vast majority of those messages will not be in EDI X12 format. Some will exist in proprietary formats created to meet the specific needs of the devices, and I expect a larger portion will use some sort of XML format simply because of the ease of creating the content. But there’s no reason that ‘things’ that are already part of the supply chain and would normally be encoded in X12 format documents could not be produced in exactly the same format and thereby easily incorporated into existing processes.  See more on EDI and IoT

What’s the difference between tracking individual items using IoT technology and RFID technology? Aside from the costs associated with each – Oh wait! It’s the costs of each that ‘s keeping both from gaining ground. Both technologies can provide item level identification but RFID can now be considered ‘old’ tech while IoT (Internet of Things) is the current darling of the development world. Here’s what I see happening over the next few years.

RFID has been around for a while and has always (still does) had a slow uptake with regard to supply chain integration. That’s both sad and understandable. RFID came along before current connectivity options were widely available. It requires specialized readers, and has very short distance requirements for communication. But most importantly, consumers were still afraid of what it meant. Some even went so far as to call it the ‘mark of the devil’ believing it would become embeded in every person and allow unwanted tracking and identification.    See more

The automotive industry especially seems to have a lot of promise because of the number of cars that are sold and in terms of the value of having connectivity. Watch for more on this and how the “Battle for the Dashboard” is progressing.This contest sounds like the “Battle of the Bands”. See the kickoff to this contest with Apple’s Entry



Electronic Invoicing Laws In Latin America Are Ever Evolving


The rules regarding electronic invoicing (e-invoicing) in Latin America are both constantly changing and different than anywhere else in the world. Brazil utilizes Nota Fiscal, Mexico mandates CFDI, Argentina elects for eFactura while Chile count on DTE. While the laws pertaining to e-invoicing in those four nations share similarities, each country tweaks their e-invoicing laws on a regular basis.



When we got into SCM Control Towers, there were not too many others (you know, the “experts” who appear in your mailbox every day and draw crowds at those big conferences) who were writing about them or building them.


Now the “big guys” are finally getting into it.

So let’s recreate what we have published and give you some great material.

12 February, 2013

A new term is appearing in the supply chain arena: “Supply Chain Control Tower”. Just as an airport control tower coordinates airplanes landing and taking off, a Supply Chain Control Tower coordinates inbound and outbound distribution flows. Sure sounds more professional than a “dashboard”.
It is all about “knowledge”. Air controllers get information on weather, speed, direction, and altitude of aircraft and use that knowledge to keep their air space safe. Companies must know what is happening with their supply chains so they can prevent disasters too. They need to be able to do “what-if” analysis and work their way around events that will cause disruption and risks to the supply chain

10 May, 2013

Who Sits Where In The SCM Tower

The Global Supply Chain Forum has identified eight key processes that make up the core of supply chain management: (1) Customer Relationship Management (provides the structure for how the relationship with the customer is developed and maintained); (2) Customer Service Management (the company’s face to the customer); (3) Demand Management (coordinates all acts of the business that place demand on manufacturing capacity): (4) Order Fulfillment (integration of the firm’s manufacturing, logistics and marketing silos); (5) Manufacturing Flow Management; (6) Procurement (supplier relationship management); (7) Product Development and Commercialization (integrating customers and suppliers into the product development process in order to reduce time to market; (8) Returns.

In my first take at staffing the SCM Control Tower, I have Logistics, CRM, Demand Planning, Procurement and EDI/Electronic Commerce. I’m not far off the mark. I am covering all the “processes” that the Forum covers. In the Forum’s approach, everybody still reports organizationally in their own “silo” and proper operation of the SCM Control Tower depends on collaboration among the silos

21 June, 2013

SCM Control Tower Team Troubles

You are in the process of staffing your SCM Control Tower. This group will be drawn from different areas of your company (different “silos”) and different skill sets (for example, a “hazmat” expert). Is your SCM Control Tower going to be a team building melting pot or a boiling cauldron of dis-function. You could draw the brightest and most hard working employees in and outside of your company; but if they don’t get along, it could wreck your business.


19 August 2013

SCM Control Tower Functions

Our Supply ChainControl Tower is up and running. Yes, the idea makes a lot of sense, but what are the benefits? How do we make full use of our resources? What else do we need to add to it?

If you take a look at an airport control tower, it usually is a boring place. Yes, they work around the clock but all you see is a super smooth operation. Operators viewing screens and talking calmly into headsets. When it is not “boring”, they usually throw visitors out. Our goal with our SCM Control Tower is to make it a “boring” place.

Airport towers handle incidents on the ground like failed landing gear. They handle incidents in the air like a “near miss”. They even reach out to other airports: anybody ever sat in an airport waiting for your destination airport to plow its snow, or whatever?

So all the time our SCM “tower operators” are monitoring for aberrations: in-house; with the suppliers and service providers; and the external World. They are looking for anything that has, will or might interrupt the supply chain. When ever, let’s call it an “incident”, is detected, the tower operator first determines if it has already occurred.

05 September 2013

Transportation Control Towers

We have been talking a lot about Supply Chain Management Control Towers. Yes, transportation (usually under logistics) is included in the control tower. In many companies, transportation is outsourced to a 3PL, 4PL or 5PL provider. This provider is an expert at hooking your company up to any required transportation resources. Your provider already has some excellent tools available. A popular concept since the 1990’s has been the “Load Control Center” (LCC). We are looking at outsourcing, but yes, excellent software is available if you do it yourself.
Transportation has always been an opportunity to centralize and get some benefits. 3M started the concept of Load Control Centers(LCC) and lots of others followed suit. The LCC is simply centralization of transportation planning and execution. Benefits include:

  • better pricing from centralized transportation sourcing

  • development of standardized operating procedures

  • fewer planners than in several separate operations

  • ability to combine more shipments and loads because of greater visibility

  • electronic integration with carriers


4 November 2013

SCM Control Towers and BIG DATA

Control towers are used in many industries for different purposes: airports and railroads use them for traffic control; power plants have control rooms to monitor operations and third party logistics providers use them to track transportation activities. These are places where operations run well. Why not a “SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT CONTROL TOWER” to monitor and assure supply?

The SCM Control Tower is all about having visibility throughout the supply chain. But if there is total visibility and no ability to make decisions, then it is not a control tower. To be a decision maker, you will need to run “what if” scenarios: forecast and recalculate the entire inventory if “your ship doesn’t come in” (something that literally could happen). To be able to calculate effects of events, it will require a LOT of data. Hence, we need to introduce BIG DATA to our Control Tower.

HEY, I have a GREAT IDEA. If you have more stories or things to add, Send us your story (on the contact form) and WE WILL PUBLISH IT

Automotive EDI – Tying The Strings Together


In our article on “EDI Goes Deep”, we first encounter the concept of “regional” networks. These developed over the years, but now that everybody is going global, how has the auto industry adapted? Like instead of everybody having to join all these regional groups, how have they “gone global” How do we bring these regional centers together?

Everything starts with Industry Associations. The automotive industry has developed a number of industry associations. These associations provide standards for how automotive companies exchange information electronically with each other. With global expansion in recent years, the industry associations around the World now work closely with each other so that automotive companies can set up new plants and onboard new business partners as quickly as possible.

Read more: http://www.ec-bp.com/index.php/articles/industry-updates/10487-automotive-edi-tying-the-strings-together#ixzz2zsZxrtRb


Omnichannel Nirvana


This is a guest post by Scott Koegler

It seems we’ve been talking about omnichannel selling for a long time now. Maybe it’s only been the last 5 years or so that the topic has risen to the level of certified buzzword, but for the majority of consumers who shop online, it’s been a very long 5 years… and even at that, has yet to deliver on their expectations.

Forrester’s study for Accenture and hybris looks at the gap between what retail customers want or expect from their shopping experiences, and what retailers are currently delivering. To say that they’ve identified a gap would be an understatement – and neither the customers nor the retailers can really be blamed.

Consumers don’t see the disjointed technology behind the retailer, and they don’t care that it exists. The retail consumer expects to find the same products in the store, in a printed catalog, and online. They see no line between the different delivery channels. A common expectation is that they can place an order online and pick the item up at the store. In fact, the report says that a full 50% of consumers expect this kind of capability from their retailers. And that follows from their other expectation held by a full 71% that they should be able to view all in-store inventory online. With these kinds of expectations it’s no wonder customers are disappointed by their multichannel shopping expectations – even though the word ‘multichannel’ is nowhere to be found in their vocabulary.

What do retail shoppers want? Aside from price, they want FAST delivery. Our desire for instant gratification is well documented. And when all shopping was the in-store kind, retailers played on that by packing the checkout lines with impulse buys. So that we consumers were able to go to the store, pick up what we wanted and walk out with it – plus a few more goodies.

Automotive EDI Goes Deep


EDI has been used by the automotive industry for over 40 years. The watch-like precision of a car production line relies on the lightning-fast and flawless exchange of EDI and other business documents between the car manufacturers (OEMs) and their huge supply chain.

A lot of the business processes used around the World to manufacture cars started out with a production system developed by Toyota and W. Edward Deming. The two best known practices are Just-In-Time (JIT) and Lean Manufacturing. Both depend upon EDI to quickly transfer business documents, provide visibility of inventory levels and notification of when shipments are due to arrive.

The automotive industry is very global. Does not matter where in the World the suppliers are, they must be onboarded VERY QUICKLY. So EDI must stretch around the World. This means not reachable only by sophisticated EC providers, but also by providers with simple tools for small suppliers. The communications and document standards vary by country. Thanks to several regional EDI networks, all is possible.

And now, for the rest of the story about Automotive EDI

SCM Control Tower Start-Up


We have been gathering a list of issues that need to to be resolved before building a Supply Chain Control Tower: SCM and IT partnership; Visibility; Strategy and expectations; Foundation for the tower; and Team-building.
SCM and IT partnership
The supply chain functional teams are expecting support from Information Technology. Up to now, many IT organizations have not been heavily involved with a lot of the supply chain; for example, the Procurement system could be a package that is supported directly by the vendor. How about bringing the teams together by emphasizing IT network management skills? IT manages complex wide-area networks using state-of-the-art applications. SCM will rapidly understand that IT brings real value to the party.

Scott Koegler recently wrote about “Combined Data and Visibility”. He pointed out that the number of systems or software applications that make up the supply chain within a single company is likely to be more than 1 and could easily be as many as 20. If that’s the case how is it possible to actually achieve what we’ve been calling visibility? He quickly dispelled the notion that all data for the SCM Control Tower can come in real time from the EDI system. So a conclusion is that the SCM Control Tower will need what is called “middleware”.

Read More about Starting Up A Supply Chain Control Tower

Automotive Calls For High Class EDI


Automotive suppliers are EDI veterans and have been into EDI for a long time. But it used to be relatively uncomplicated because of the industry’s business model: just ship a lot of a few assigned parts, on time, without defects. The OEM ran huge assembly plants and put the whole vehicle together. But things have changed. Many first-tier suppliers are now responsible for “systems” (really sub-assemblies) and rely on lower-tier suppliers. As their role changes, so does the complexity. Let’s look at a typical supplier who used to manufacture just rear-view mirrors.

Getting Started With EDI? Here’s Just For You!


Though the majority of our readers are veterans when it comes to EDI, there are always new implementations, new employees trying to get their footing, and even company management not familiar with EDI who are trying to understand what all the fuss is about when all they really want to do is get their orders processed. For those readers (and anyone else who thinks they just want to have a fresh perspective) we have a resource for you.

Find out how to get this e-book

Take a look at our EDI Tool Box too.