Logistics is the lifeline of trading. From perishable goods to steel, everything is reliant on logistics. However, a core challenge that plagues the industry is the processing of massive amounts of documents that are generated on a daily basis. While the task can not be undermined for its importance, it also ends up taking crucial time from employees' schedules that can be well spent somewhere else. Therefore, it is now high-time for logistics companies to adopt new methodologies that can help them automate the process of documentation.
What Options does the Logistics Industry have?
There are many traditional methods of extracting and capturing data from logistics documents such as manual data entry, and template-based Optical Character Recognition(OCR). While each one has its place, technology is now starting to make the above mentioned traditional methods of data capture obsolete.
How does Manual Data Entry Work?
Manual data entry is what it says it is. Humans receive paper-based or electronic documents, they open up CargoWise (or other ERPs), locate the relevant data on the document and type – or copy and paste – that data into the corresponding field in the business system.
Due to the nature of the work, manual data entry is a job that requires meticulous attention to detail and sustained levels of concentration. However, humans are not infallible, particularly when it comes to the performance of tedious, repetitive tasks. Unlike machines that can follow a set of instructions continuously without getting tired, humans become distracted easily and inevitably, errors creep in.
Manual data entry is also slow when compared to automated solutions – there’s simply no way a human can compete with modern machines when it comes to processing at speed. Nonetheless, many organizations view manual data entry as a cheap and easy way to process documents. There’s no software to implement or maintain and no need to train employees how to use it.
There is also a view that automation technology is expensive and that there is no time or budget to transform tried and tested workflows and make the transition from manual to automated processes.
How does Template Based OCR Work?
OCR is a technology that allows text to be extracted from image-based documents, such as PDFs or scanned invoices. It captures data according to predefined rules or templates and converts the data into digital data or editable text.
For example, imagine you’ve been sent a paper document, like a scanned bill of lading or accounts payable invoice. OCR technology extracts the data so you can copy and paste it into a business system or Excel spreadsheet.
In essence, the technology recognizes text in a document or image and can extract it. In theory, this means that this part of the process no longer needs to be done manually and so can be performed quicker. OCR templates do improve data capture accuracy, but they are extremely expensive to set up and maintain. For industries with low document variability, template based OCR is a perfectly adequate solution. For logistics documents, the reality is that documents will come in a variety of formats, making document processing extremely expensive and difficult using only OCR software.
The Logistics Industry in Present Times.
Logistics deals with multiple transactions taking place every minute. Each of these transactions produces more & more documents leading to more document processing tasks. All this ultimately gives rise to a variety of different issues such as -
- Large amount of documents produced to process.
- Incorrect data submission such as registered recipients' data, delivery statuses, etc.
- Time incurred for processing invoices, and multiple other documents.
- Custom services with different freight values.
- Compliance issues and related paperwork for different geographies globally.
How will the Future Market affect the Extent of Documentation in Logistics?
Covid 19 took a toll on all the industries including the logistics. Multiple large sections of the industry came to a halt and the international logistics chain was disrupted by the deadly virus.
However, the good news is that it's gaining pace again. In a report by AlliedMarketResearch, logistics is projected to reach $12,975.64 billion by 2027. This figure predicts opening up multiple new avenues for logistics creating more work in the process.
There are also other key indicators such as reverse logistics for E-Commerce and increasing trade agreements. With an increase in demand, the amount of documentation required is bound to increase. This demands deploying an AI document extraction & processing platform for logistics that can optimize the process (that too exponentially). It will help free up time for the employees so that they can pay attention to tasks that are much more important and relevant.
How the Collaboration of IDP & AI can help Automation in Logistics?
An Intelligent Document Processing platform is a complete solution for document processing in logistics. This is by virtue of its Artificial Intelligent algorithms. An IDP system is capable of learning and evolving throughout its lifecycle. It works like a baby that learns from its environment and becomes more & more efficient day-by-day learning from its surroundings.
This is not all! It comes with a coalition of ground-breaking IT technologies of today i.e. Machine Learning, Computer Vision, Natural Language Processing and Robotic Process Automation.
A collaboration of all these technologies makes IDP an effective solution from start to finish of any document process. It can pre-process, extract, process, validate , segregate , and sort data. Beyond this, an IDP can also automate processes that determine the flow of data into the infrastructure using RPA. For instance, simple tasks such as download, upload, move, update etc. In fact, it can also be integrated with a chatbot or an email responder to automatically send custom responses to the customers hands-free.
What are some of the Other Compelling Features of an IDP?
The above section described the basic functionality of an IDP. Although, the platform has a lot more to offer. For instance:
- It can process digital and paper-based documents in bulk.
- It helps categorize different types of documents automatically.
- It allows users to create custom document extraction and create new workflows.
- The platform can take advantage of business rules for amplifying automation during processing & validation.
- An IDP can be integrated with both upstream and downstream applications. This also includes legacy systems.
- It effectively integrates with any organization's existing document management infrastructure, therefore, there is no need to make any massive changes (even if required).
IDP Use Cases for Logistics Business
There are multiple subcategories in logistics that can be automated using an IDP. For instance Courier & Express Service, Land Transportation, EXIM logistics, E-Commerce, etc.
To give you a better idea, we have listed out three common use cases of IDP in this industry.
Logistics paperwork in essence is the entire set of documents utilized in the industry. These range from proforma invoices to packing list, certificate of origin, airway bill, Inland bill of lading, etc.
The task of documenting logistics paperwork would require constant data entry and validation at multiple points. Having control over logistics paperwork will directly control the quality of the supply chain exponentially.
Bills of Lading
Bills of lading is a collaboration of three important data points i.e. title of the goods, receipt of the product, and terms & conditions. It acts as a legal binding between the carrier and the shipper. This legal binding entails that the shipment will reach its destination as per terms & conditions.
It is an important document that is frequently produced whenever a shipment is carried forward. A logistics organization is required to constantly update the bill of lading into their system. The document is also often used for extracting data during shipping.
EXIM services are a major contributor to the logistics industry. To sail smoothly, it requires a variety of documents to be maintained and verified continuously. These documents can range from common export documents to transportation documents, compliance documents, licenses, and destination control statements.
The process of documentation requires scanning, processing, and segregating multiple documents. Also, the task demands easy access to the information required during customs check.
How is VisionERA a Complete Solution for Logistics?
We understand that a specialist industry such as logistics receives different shapes, sizes and types of documents on a daily basis. It thus requires a specialist solution such as VisionERA which is a pioneering platform possessing the capability to learn from context and extract all relevant data such as – date, address, billed amount, etc. – from any type of logistics documents. VisionERA’S document processing capability is a huge leap forward from traditional OCR and light-years ahead of manual data entry.
From covering a broad range of shipping document types and structures to offering out -of -the box integrations, VisionERA can help organizations eliminate repetitive manual tasks, while enabling them to save cost and time savings. It can also aid drive greater productivity throughout the workforce as it is simple to set up, and requires a minimal investment in time and budget.
VisionERA’s compelling features not only makes it productive but is easy to use and customize as per your likeness as it comes loaded with a customizable DIY interface for the user. Also, it offers stand-out features like autocorrection, automatic gridling, plug-n-play and a plethora of capabilities for making your document processing easier and faster.
To know more about VisionERA’s document processing prowess, talk to our experts now.
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