Magazine Article | January 1, 2002

EDI Turns Out The Lights On Data Exchange

Source: Field Technologies Magazine
Integrated Solutions, January 2002

Reliable Automotive (Overland Park, KS), a wholesale distributor of specialty automotive aftermarket parts and accessories, needs its e-procurement engine to be as well-oiled as the cars and trucks its customers maintain. In making available more than 50,000 SKUs (stock keeping units), Reliable exchanges order and invoice information with over 300 suppliers. To ensure performance worthy of the company's name, Reliable implemented eVision, a data integration and transformation suite from TIE (St.Paul, MN).

Data Mapping Tools Provide Flexibility
Reliable's primary goal in implementing a new data transformation system was to bring more of its suppliers into the EDI (electronic data interchange) arena. When Reliable decided to expand its EDI-based communications beyond an initial EDI trading partner, its existing system couldn't handle the volume. In addition to causing system failures, the software generated costly labor-intensive processes. Says Lori Graham, Reliable's EDI supervisor, "We needed a lights-out environment in which data could be exchanged and processed without operator intervention at our end."

Using eVision, data is now transmitted to and from Reliable's EDI trading partners via a VAN (value-added network). Residing on Reliable's EDI server, eVision automatically dials out to pull incoming data from the VAN mailbox according to a collection schedule. Relying on templates built with eVision's mapping tools, eVision processes the data to monitor whether or not it is complete and to filter out unwanted data. Processed data is automatically imported into the AP (accounts payable) system, eliminating manual data entry.

More EDI - Less Paper, Less Labor
Graham credits eVision's mapping tools, in particular, with the expansion of the EDI base. "The ability to create our own maps meant that we could expand the types of documents that could be electronically exchanged," Graham explains.

In addition to reducing labor costs associated with processing invoices, Reliable also reduced expenses in mailing and faxing. Most importantly, Reliable greatly narrowed the paper trail. Nearly 50% of invoices are now coming in via EDI.