How EDI Can Boost Your Business in Today’s Air Freight Industry

How EDI Can Boost Your Business in Today’s Air Freight Industry Image


The usage of EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) in the air freight industry has dramatically increased over the past several years. Why? An impressive reduction in data entry, streamlined communication and reduced costs in the day to day activities of your business.

 A simple definition of EDI is a method of providing a common “language” for a company’s computer system to “talk” to another company’s computer system. The primary type of messages that are taking place in the industry include EDI 204/211 (electronic inbound alerts), EDI 214 (shipment event status updates and proof of delivery) and EDI 210 (electronic invoicing).

Shippers are wanting to send and receive scanned images of the paperwork via EDI. Receiving the airbills into Crown via EDI opens the door for sending an image of the paperwork to the driver application, Crown Mobile, for a consignee’s signature using a stylus. While EDI evolved around rigid standards, today most of the EDI messages are tweaked to meet the needs of the industry. The primary framework for communicating between a freight forwarders system and a ground trucking agent are FTP, Web API or XML.

Without the implementation of EDI, a typical freight delivery order is processed in the following manner:

  1. An email is sent from the freight forwarder via email to the cartage company handling the delivery.
  2. The cartage company finds the email, prints the airbill and other supporting paperwork and manually enters into their computer system.
  3. Their forwarding customer calls to confirm receipt.
  4. The shipment is then assigned to a delivery driver at which time the cartage company calls their freight forwarding customer to let them know the shipment is out for delivery.
  5. Once the delivery is made, the driver calls dispatch to let them know who signed for the freight.
  6. Dispatch then calls the forwarding customer to provide the proof of delivery information.
  7. Once the paperwork is returned to the office the original paperwork with the signature is manually scanned and an image is emailed to their customer.
  8. The freight forwarder then takes this scan and rescans into their scanning system.

With EDI and Crown Mobile all of these manual step can be eliminated.

The rise of EDI has been driven by the need for the air freight forwarding community to be able to compete with FedEx and UPS and their ability to offer their shipping customers real-time tracking of freight. As air freight forwarders continue to expand their business with online retailers and home delivery, they must provide similar capabilities as FedEx and UPS. In addition to ensuring the industry stays competitive, EDI also creates a significant increase in productivity by automating data entry and reducing errors, phone calls, manual emails, faxes, paper and costs. Many of Crown Data System’s customers see an increase in business by offering EDI communications to their shipping customers.