Monthly Archives :

September 2019

air freight invoice processing
Air Freight Invoice Processing Methods – Expect 100% Data Accuracy
Air Freight Invoice Processing Methods – Expect 100% Data Accuracy 600 401 Tim Robertson

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

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.

Find out more how CloudTrade helps its partners and customers seamlessly capture air freight invoice data with 100% data accuracy, without manual intervention and with no cost to suppliers here.

Parcel Freight Invoice Processing
OCR and AI for Parcel Freight Invoice Processing
OCR and AI for Parcel Freight Invoice Processing 800 494 Tim Robertson

OCR is still predominately used for parcel freight invoice processing (invoices in either paper, PDF or image files format), turning the information on the invoice into data that can be integrated directly into a buyer’s TMS or ERP.

But even though technological advances have reduced the errors encountered with OCR technology, there will always be an inherent percentage of error in OCR that requires the information be validated or enriched manually. So not only does OCR require manual resources, it also needs defined process steps to make sure you capture and validate the data you need.

It’s claimed that the best OCR on the market is 80-90% accurate. That means you’re going to have to touch every invoice you process to validate that data.

That’s because OCR “reads” information on a freight invoice as an image. It is not a direct transfer of data, which means that a small percentage of essential and crucial information could get “lost in translation”.

Bad data is not good data

Bad data entering your TMS or ERP means your decisions in the audit/payment lifecycle can be at risk, exposing you to issues such as payment delays, fraud, and non-compliance with regulations like tax and customs requirements.

There’s also the question of the SLA’s you have for processing a freight invoice or document chain such as the Order, BOL, POD and Invoice. Whether it’s a few fields you require or external documentation for reference information, it all adds up to substantial delays in processing a freight invoice.

The good news is that advances in AI and capture technologies gives you 100% accuracy in data capture from freight invoices and associated documents, with the data validated at the point of capture.

The majority of freight invoices are PDFs containing a data layer that AI capture software can access. So where OCR is interpretive, AI capture software extracts invoice data directly. And when you write specific business rules to interpret, amend and augment the data you create other efficiencies in the process that OCR just can’t compete with.

At no cost, suppliers send their freight invoices as a PDF to a specific email address, where all the data elements are extracted and validated against defined business rules and delivered to your TMS, payment and back office systems.

That means the invoice data going into your TMS or ERP is precisely what is on the invoice. No further validation is required and invoices are processed within minutes after receipt. That frees up time and resources for your organization.

Find out more about how CloudTrade can boost the efficiency of your parcel freight invoice processing.