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Deeper complexity and cooperation within the logistics chain calls for agility and flexibility. Data and rapid exchange of it are important success factors. Twan Slits, Manager Applications & Connectivity, explains how Van den Bosch is responding to this with Electronic Data Interchange (EDI).
“As a logistics service provider, we are connected to many diverse parties. Especially with our intermodal approach (transport by a combination of road, rail and ship), we must be able to keep up with changes – sometimes daily. Take, for example, the failure of a train. You want to have this information available as soon as possible and use it for an alternative route/planning when this is important for deadlines.”
Closer to the customer
Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) can automatically convert data from customers, suppliers and other relevant sources - if they can be interpreted in a uniform manner - into documents such as orders, bookings and invoices. The advantage of this is that the risk of human error is reduced. In addition, employees can focus more on the exceptions and the needs of customers and suppliers.
The biggest benefit is the real-time view of the logistics process. For example, concerning loading and unloading times and current information about the planning and changes in these. “Many of our customers are directly dependent on our deliveries for their manufacturing. Information about, for example, changes in the planning or adjusted loading times is therefore crucial to them. Through EDI, this information can be shared directly with the customer and other stakeholders.”
An additional advantage of the EDI solution within Van den Bosch is that almost all the common business software can be linked. Therefore, independent of the business systems that customers and suppliers work with. “23% of orders are now processed via EDI. Sometimes this only relates to order entry, but there are also customers for whom the execution data is fed back in the form of actual loading and unloading dates, times and weights. It’s then helpful that we can exchange information system-independently.”
GPS and sensors
To sharpen real-time visibility, the EDI team is working on the further integration and sharing of data via GPS and sensor technology, for example. “We are aiming to have information available faster in the right places throughout the entire supply chain via all the relevant internal and external data flows . The value of data is not so much in having it, but in being able to use it quickly and in the right way. EDI is, and will be, the indispensable link in this.”