EDI Advanced Shipping Notifications (ASNs) are an incredibly powerful tool. They allow warehouse operatives to receive order and shipment information in one simple, electronic transaction prior to goods receipt. Despite the simplicity of the process though, ASNs carry a wealth of useful information and, if integrated with a warehouse management (WM) system, can be invaluable in improving efficiency, cutting costs and reducing errors. Here are some ways in which ASNs can deliver real benefits in the logistics supply chain:
Receive information early
Comparisons are sometimes made between ASNs and the Bill of Lading (BOL), which accompanies a shipment along its path. While the ASN is similar to a BOL and even carries much of the same information, there are crucial differences. As the name suggests, ASNs carry their information in advance of the physical shipment, which has several key advantages for warehouse management systems and the goods receipt process.
Cut the time and cost of receiving goods
The warehouse of today is a fast-paced environment with small margin for error and little time for manual sorting of goods deliveries. Systems can be largely automated, where pallet barcodes generated from shipping labels can be scanned and the contents compared to the ASN, which contains marking, packaging information and configuration of goods in the transportation equipment. This greatly increases the speed of the receiving process and receiving costs are thought to be reduced by about 40% when using ASNs.
Improve accuracy at the point of receipt
As ASNs can be configured to carry data such as Serial Shipping Container Codes (SSCC), goods type, quantity and batch/lot numbers they can ensure a higher rate of accuracy, as what is captured from reading the SSCC from each pallet when delivered to the warehouse can be matched to the information previously sent in the ASN and any anomalies flagged. Upon receipt of the ASN, the receiver is immediately informed of any difference between what was ordered, and what was actually shipped, including any substitutions. This eliminates any cross-checking errors that can occur with manual verification of goods delivered against invoice and order paperwork and further speeds up the receiving process.
Having an accurate overview of goods due for receipt and anticipated fill rates ahead of physical delivery allows managers to plan for greater efficiencies. ASNs allow you to prepare for various goods arriving in one shipment to be allocated for putaway, immediate use or re-allocation for subsequent outbound shipments, as required. Part of the power of ASNs is that they are extremely flexible themselves, with warehouse operators able to specify exactly what information they require from vendors and providing multiple ways in which to transmit this information, be it via automated system-to-system interface, web-based vendor portals or even manual input into a digital template.
Advanced Shipping Notifications are a key element of the ideal supply chain. When used to its potential as part of a functioning, integrated WM solution, the ASN eliminates the need for paper-based communications, improves inventory management, turnaround times and facilitates smoother data transfer.
Advanced Ship Notifications will be an essential component for the future of WM too, as they are fully compatible with RFID solutions and are essential when operating a mechanised receiving process. It’s no wonder then that ASNs are becoming a standard practice for many warehouses as they look to reduce costs, improve efficiency and offer increased flexibility.
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