Air freight invoice processing can be a challenge for many organizations that need to accurately capture the invoice data for their TMS or ERP. Here’s a high level overview how companies are currently extracting freight invoice information along with how changes in technology are allowing for more precise data capture.
Paper – Manual Data Entry
Paper has always been the traditional method for air freight invoice submission. Many smaller organizations still extract the data using manual data entry because of the complexity of the invoice. Associated resource costs and manual error rates can be high.
Paper – Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
OCR is the most popular method : paper is scanned and converted to an electronic format that can be accepted into a TMS or ERP. However, the inherent inaccuracies of even the most advanced OCR technologies require AP staff to validate the data with manual intervention. Accuracy rates are in the 80-95% range.
Email – Image PDF Files or Scanned Invoices
PDF image files require the same level of processing and manual intervention as described above for OCR, with the same manual validation and accuracy rates as OCR. This includes freight invoice file formats output by a scanner such as PNG, JPG or TIFF.
EDI (Electronic Data Interchange)
EDI is the exchange of EDI documentation (EDI or XML files) using standardized languages transferred through internet protocols (FTP, HTTP or AS1, 2 and 4) between transacting organizations. Because the adoption of this system requires complete business process change and specialist resources, this method is often adopted by larger organizations that have an infrastructure to support EDI. EDI has 100% data accuracy rates.
The disadvantage for EDI is that supplier adoption is low because the technical, process and financial constraints encourage suppliers to continue to send paper freight invoices.
Invoice portals are often used by larger organizations to get suppliers to submit their air freight invoices directly into the buyer’s TMS or ERP. They’re not particularly popular and paper freight invoices continue to be sent to buyers.
That’s because portals require a supplier to export a freight invoice from their ERP and then raise the invoice all over again within the portal. Often the supplier must download a program to use and pay for the service, all of which are disincentives. Accuracy rates are dependent on manual entry.
Email – Data PDF Files – 100% Validated Data
One of the most inexpensive options for both buyers and sellers is extracting data from a PDF for air freight invoice processing. The data extraction is accurate because there is no “interpretation” of the data, as you would have in OCR.
CloudTrade extracts data from air freight invoices in electronic formats such as PDF, EDI, DOC, and HTML between a supplier and buyer via email with 100% data accuracy. This is done with patented cloud software that converts emailed invoices to EDI or XML files that are integrated directly into a buyer’s TMS or ERP.
Development of software that utilizes AI (artificial intelligence) languages and protocols maps the extractable data layer of the invoice. Validation occurs at the point of capture so manual intervention is unnecessary and the technology has a 100% data accuracy rate.