OCR and AI for Parcel Freight Invoice Processing

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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.