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Komplexe Integration logistischer Prozesse

COMPLEX INTEGRATION OF LOGISTICAL PROCESSES For a few months, projects have been piling up that aim at far-reaching integration of logistical processes with shipping agents and fulfillment service providers. In many cases, this is down to shipping companies getting extremely tight delivery windows from the goods recipient, compliance with which can no longer be guaranteed if shipping orders are logged manually. These clearly structured requirements for the transmission of digital shipping orders (generally by EDIFACT IFTMIN message) often, however, only form the preliminary stage for an in-depth integration of very complex detailed processes. Many companies outsource parts of the order picking process to external service providers and their warehouses. As a consequence, the stocks there are vitally important for planning dispatching processes and the delivery of trade goods to the warehouse in question. Every change in warehouse stocks must be mapped precisely according to time and batch. These digitalized process chains are often very specific to the goods and service provider. Aside from pure picking activity, and the return messages resulting from it, notification and redistribution activities up to and including delivery and complaint management must be mapped digitally using EDI technologies. Standard EDIFACT messages can only partially map the scenarios described, because many of the required process implementations must be highly focused on the logistics service provider and its underlying logistics applications, which are by nature proprietary. Against this backdrop, such integration projects are partially implemented with variations of known EDIFACT processes; classic examples of this include:

  • IFTMIN—to make an advance shipping order notification
  • IFTMIN—to report actual quantities
  • DESADV—as a dispatch order
  • DESADV—as a dispatch confirmation
  • HANMOV—as a dispatch order
  • RECADV—as a goods entry report
  • PRICAT—to transfer item information
  • QALITY—to transfer statistical information

As the requirements of the goods recipients with respect to data quality in logistic sub-processes are continually increasing, this information can still only be partially generated be the suppliers’ ERP systems. This is why these data have to almost inevitably be provided by the shipping agent’s logistics applications. An exchange among these processes by means of standardized EDIFACT message types is in many cases not expedient due to the heterogeneous nature of the logistics applications often developed in-house by the service providers. For this reason, from a certain depth of integration the shipping company’s logistics interfaces are directly integrated with the supplier’s ERP system in the logistics provider’s interface format (generally ASCII or XML formats) without having to fall back on EDIFACT formats. An example from a current project illustrates this:

  • – EK orders to the shipping company
  • – EK orders from the shipping company
  • – snd sales orders to the shipping company
  • – rcv sales orders from the shipping company
  • – snd stock transfer orders to the shipping company
  • – rcv stock transfer orders from the shipping company
  • – snd collection requests to the shipping company
  • – rcv collection requests from the shipping company
  • – snd sales complaints to the shipping company
  • – rcv sales complaints from the shipping company

The large number of processes to be implemented in the EDIFACT or proprietary ASCIII/XML format make it clear that the challenge in integrating such complex process chains lies not in generating and processing the formats involved (EDIFACT, ASCII, XML) but in guaranteeing the required data quality. In scenarios like this, the EDI system deployed must not only be able to transform the different formats used in transactions between a logistics service provider and a supplier’s ERP system; it must also fill the gap between the supplier’s ERP interface, the shipping company’s logistics interfaces, and the client’s ERP and preprocessing systems by using an intelligent logic specific to the respective business processes, without having to fall back on classic programming technologies. Keywords

  • Softzoll, EDI, EDIFACT, shipping company, logistics, integration, processes, suppliers, order picking, dispatch processes, ERP systems, logistics applications
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