EASI Webinar - Part 2
EDI Routing Envelopes
Now we're getting into the thick of things. Routing Envelopes. In truth, they're very simple but they are critical to the entire EDI process. Just like you place a letter inside an envelope in order to mail it, your computer system places your electronic "letter" (PO) into an "envelope" to make sure it reaches the right person. In this case, the right company.
The Routing Envelope is basically a line of information at the top and bottom of your EDI file (PO, ASN, Invoice) stating who is sending the file and who should be receiving the file. It "wraps" your EDI file up just like an envelope encases your handwritten letter.
One of the more important aspects of the routing envelope is the use of DUNS #'s to identify trading partners and the inclusion of a unique "interchange id". The interchange id is simply a unique tracking number for the EDI transmission. Think of it like a unique serial number stamped on your letter. Or better yet, like a UPS or FedEx tracking number on your parcel. This unique tracking number will be discussed later when we touch on some of the more "advanced" standards.
See our Routing Envelope page for more info.
832 Product Descriptor Databases (PDD’s)
What in the world is a PDD and why does anyone need them? Prior to the EASI standards how did companies receive information about new products, or even information about current products? Most warehouse systems require case pack qty information prior to or at the time of receiving product. It's also a good idea to know how much something weighs and it's dimensions. Distributors could try to do this once the product actually hits their docks, but the time impact is huge. The supply chain would grind to a halt while a distribution center sorts through the receipt, weighs and measures and inputs all that information into their system. So how did companies handle this before EASI? Not well. Not well at all, and that's the truth. Think of all the emails and spreadsheets that would bounce back and forth, and all the manual entry that would go on to get this information in a system.
This is why we use a PDD. We're not going back to that dark lonely place.
The PDD file contains all this information, along with item weights/dimensions, pantone numbers and image file names for websites, Harmonization codes for customs documentation/compliance, and coming soon NMFC classifications for improved freight rates.
For Mill's, being able to generate this information at a moment's notice saves an incredible amount of time in compiling all this information for each trading partner. And for Distributor's they are able to pull this information directly into their computer systems. Trying to manually enter several thousand items and all this information into the backend system is a nightmare (and was). Not anymore. Use a PDD.
The EASI group is always finding efficiency advantages with this Standard. We're now on version 6 and looking to adopt version 7 at the upcoming meeting. The willingness of Mills and Distributors to work together to automate tasks is clearly visible with this standard.
More information can be found on our PDD page.
850 Purchase Orders
Everyone in the apparel industry either sends or receives Purchase Orders. The value of automating the communication and import of these "forms" is a no-brainer. Everything communicated on a faxed or emailed PO is present in the EASI 850 PO standard, including special instructions. And by using the GTIN standard, which can be imported using the PDD standard described above, the Mill knows what the Distributor is purchasing. And the Distributor knows what they enter on their purchase order is actually going in to the purchase order on the Mill's side.
By standardizing the PO, entry errors are minimized. Is that a "2" or a "Z"? 3 cases or 3 pieces? Where did they want this shipped? I can't tell what they're ordering. Not only do you get fewer errors and greater speed by complying with the 850 Standard, you also open up the door for "down channel" EDI files. Files whose data is based on accurate PO data.
In short, the EASI 850 Purchase Order is exactly like the Purchase Orders your sending or receiving now, except they're electronically communicated and the receiver doesn't need to redo the work of manually entering the information in their system.
More information can be found on our PO page.
856 Advanced Shipment Notifications (ASN’s)
How is a shipment communicated? Email, spreadsheet, fax? How is that information put in the receiver's system? Is it manually keyed in, and if so, how much time does it take and how many errors result?
The 856 ASN is where the Mill "pays" the Distributor back for 850 PO compliance. The distributor saved the mill time (and themselves with accuracy) by transmitting their Purchase Order via EDI file. The mill now has all the information they need to provide a "response" file.
Upon shipment the Mill can now communicate to the Distributor what is on the way to them. Along with shipping destination and tracking information, this file includes product and qty information and against what purchase orders the shipments have been made.
The Distributor no longer needs to key this information into their system. They "pull in" the ASN file and receive the shipment against it. While the ASN file contains serialized tracking numbers (SSCC-18 barcodes were mentioned in the carton label section above) the receiver can chose to receive against those tracking numbers or receive using the GTIN barcodes.
One important note about ASN's. A single ASN represents a single shipment, often a container or Less Than Truckload shipment, which may contain multiple purchase orders. There are many advantages, both in the receiving process and in supply chain visibility to receiving at the ASN level, rather than at the PO level.
With ASN's we see can see the connection between the standards. GTINs have been established by the Mill for the product and the Distributors associate those GTIN numbers with the SKU numbers in their system. A PO has been received electronically, ensuring the integrity of the data. Standardized carton labels have been applied for efficient barcode scanning and accuracy upon shipment. The 856 ASN is transmitted to the Distributor. The Distribution Center uses the standardized carton labels to scan the goods into their system and post the receipt.
For more information visit our ASN page.
Additional Discussion Topics
EDI File Components: Header, Detail, Trailer wrapped in a routing envelope. Fields with attributes: Data Type (numeric, text, code), Length, and Required/Optional/Dependent
EDI Communications: FTP push/pull process. Like an online mailbox for exchanging EDI files.
Interpreting a Standard Layout File - 832 Example
Using the Compliance Test Site - 832 Example
Questions from the Attendees
Q: Briefly, what is the 997
A: Think of the 997 as a "signature required" process on a your UPS/Fedex Parcel Shipment - where the parcel is your EDI file. So when a Distributor transmits an 850 Purchase Order File to the Mill, the Mill can use a 997 to let you know they received the file - they "sign" the parcel letting you know they got it. The 997 can be integrated into your backend computer systems to let you know if a file you sent has not been "signed for". This lets you be pro-active
in making sure your trading partner received the file. There are few things worse than not knowing your Mill did not receive the Purchase Order you transmitted a week ago. The use of 997 Functional Acknowledgements enables you to be informed of that scenario within hours, and cuts down on your need to following up manually (phone/email) with your trading partner to confirm receipt of a file.
Q: Are there any "laws" governing the re-use of a gtin once a supplier drops an item?
A: The EASI Standards currently does not have a guidelines for re-use of "dead" GTINs. This will be addressed at the upcoming Annual Meeting. It will likely be the recommendation of the Technical Committee that the same guidelines in use by the GS1 organization (the same that governs retail UPC re-use) be used for the EASI Standards. GTINs would be available for re-use 2 years after the product is taken off the market.
Q: Are the standards applicable to international customers?
A: Absolutely. The use of GTINs (Globally unique identification numbers) and the similarity in "forms" and capabilities means the EASI Standards are not limited to US-only trading partners. The one "hole" in the current standards is in the availability of appropriate "ship to/from" address fields. At the Annual Meeting in April the group will be voting for the adoption of these new addresss fields that will further automate international processing of the files. But even with the standards in their current form there is very little to stop international processing (even if minor manual processes needed to take place to insert/modify incomplete international addresses. The time/cost savings still apply.
Q: How long are older standards supported?
A: The short answer is, the group only supports the current version and most recent retired version of each standard. This was a conscious choice made by the group as a whole. By support I mean that if the current version is 6.0 and the most recently retired version is 5.0, both versions will be maintained on the website (available for download) and both versions can be tested on the Compliance Test Site. Supporting more versions of older standards defeats the purpose of the group and the use of the standards, since we'd be taking a step backwards to the time when their was no true standard and each trading partner would need to customize their systems for 10 or 20 different file types (one version for each trading partner). So, to provide proper motivation, and stay true to the group's mission, only current and the most recently retired version of each standard is supported.
Great first webinar everyone! Thank you for your attention, we hope you gained some knowledge you can put to use right away. Keep an eye out for a follow up survey to let us know what you thought of the session and how we can improve it for future webinars.