The portal-based ocean shipping e-commerce network INTTRA on Tuesday unveiled a new application designed to reduce the millions of manual transactions ocean carriers process annually.
The product, called INTTRA Change, will allow shippers to submit electronic documents to carriers in the output format from their enterprise resource planning (ERP) system or transportation management system (TMS) while allowing carriers to receive it in an electronic-data-interchange (EDI) format.
INTTRA will map the document – typically bookings and shipping instructions - and convert it to EDI, the preferred format for carriers. Instead of emailing the attachment directly to the carriers, shippers would email it to INTTRA, with the EDI version flowing seamlessly into the carriers’ system.
“Customers tend to take the output from their ERP or TMS and attach that document and send it to carrier,” said Sandra Moran, vice president of industry and product marketing for INTTRA. “Then the carrier rekeys it. Shippers spend time making sure this data is correct in their system, but then errors can pop up when information is rekeyed.”
The product is designed to eliminate the manual intervention on the carrier side, cutting down on errors, and on staff time needed to key in the information manually.
At first INTTRA Change will map any structured readable electronic document – from a PDF to a spreadsheet to output documents from an ERP. Eventually, the application will expand to handle unstructured documents that are captured through optical character recognition (OCR).
Moran said what separates INTTRA Change from similar document “translation” application is that it doesn’t rely on OCR, which can produce errors. She said INTTRA has already taken some standard carrier documents and mapped them to aid the translation of boiler plate documents.
She said the product could conceivably reduce manual invention in more than one in six of the roughly 76 million manual transaction carriers undertake.
“Manual processing costs are a major concern for both smaller shippers, as well as large, multi-national corporations,” said INTTRA Chief Executive Officer Ken Bloom. “Organizations are spending millions on advanced ERP or TMS systems, only to find that shipping information is being manually re-entered, often incorrectly, in carrier documentation centers. Not only do these mistakes delay shipments, but they also have the potential to eliminate many of the efficiencies gained with automation and optimization. We consider manual transactions to be one of the weakest links in the management of global shipments, and INTTRA Change provides a new option to eliminate its practice in the industry.”
After a shipper’s existing reports or documents are sent directly and electronically to their carriers, any exceptions from validation checks, as well as amendments or cancellations, are managed by the INTTRA Change platform, enabling customers to immediately edit and re-submit transactions online.
“This capability eliminates back and forth emails or phone calls between carriers and shippers in order to process transactions,” INTTRA said. - Eric Johnson