How to capture freight logistics data

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Deriving accurate insight from line-level data is the foundation for effective decision-making. So, if your logistics firm is looking to get ahead of the competition, you’ll need to shift your mindset and operations towards a modern data capture process that can enhance your freight invoice functionality, and generate more revenue, faster.

Capturing freight invoice data

According to research from Drewry Shipping Consultants, the container liner shipping industry requires about 1.26 billion freight invoices to be issued, verified, paid, and reconciled.

We know from experience that processing Freight Invoices can be labor-intensive due to the format and complexity of the data required from an invoice. Many Freight companies look to automate this labor-intensive process either via digital scanning, OCR solutions, or data extraction tools.

The math is simple: if you have a long and detailed freight invoice, like the 1,500-page freight invoice document that we see, which needs manual capture and validation, its likely to take at least 3 working days to process – on the assumption that the operative can check and amend data at a rate of 1 page per minute. It’s just not fast enough for a business that needs to move quickly within the supply chain.


What’s the biggest challenge for processing freight and logistics invoices?

One of the biggest challenges of freight invoice processing for logistics companies concerns the time-consuming, in-house process that requires multiple levels of manual effort when extracting and keying data into various internal software systems. Capturing data from logistics invoices specifically presents a unique challenge, as they are received in multiple formats and are often sent as a package. Most organizations will send this via email, which means the data must be captured manually, via OCR technology. This presents a key issue, as due to the complexity of a freight invoice, manually checking and correcting scanning mistakes significantly extends the correction and processing time, particularly when you’re looking at a 40-page document, for example!

We also see freight invoices issued in the language where the shipment has been exported from/arrived to etc. To read these, you’ll need language specialists, which can prove to be an issue if not available. CloudTrade can extract and understand data from most languages to speed up the process.

In these times of great economic uncertainty, it’s essential that customer relationships remain the number one priority to keep cash flowing throughout the supply chain. All invoices need to be received, reviewed, and approved seamlessly before a payment is made. The businesses you work with likely lack the capacity to manage lengthy delays, and equally your survival depends on theirs. An already stretched Operations department will also be reluctant to deal with a growing backlog of invoice errors, disputes, and exceptions.

Speeding up the capture process with automation, would not only benefit your business financially, but it would offer greater levels of customer satisfaction by speeding up shipment processing – all essential factors in increasing revenue for a freight or logistics company.


What are the options for Freight Invoice data capture?

Within the Freight and Logistics sector, the predominant methods for processing invoices are still currently OCR technology with manual input or using an EDI platform, both of which have significant downsides, either surrounding supplier adoption rates, cost (implementation and management), or accuracy.

Although OCR has evolved over the years and there have been some improvements in capture rates, the scanning image conversion process remains far from error-free and requires humans to check the captured data. The fact is that many organizations are still using OCR and it's embedded in their current operating models – legacy operations that businesses are reluctant to change. If you’re looking for more efficient ways to capture your data, faster and with more accuracy then there are other options that are more efficient.

EDI is great for high volume and simple transactions but implementing and managing it is complicated. It requires technical resources to set the system up and can take a long time to onboard sending organizations, not to mention the high-cost rates for both parties.

Allow us to throw our hat into the ring...

While the more industry entrenched methods of EDI and OCR offer several drawbacks for data acquisition, CloudTrade is different. CloudTrade captures data from any emailed invoice electronic document format such as PDF, XML, EDI, CSV, Word, HTML, and XLS. Rules are written to mimic human behavior, validate against 3rd party data files, and parse/segment/augment data so it hits the internal system with 100% accuracy. Our technology guarantees 100% accurate data extraction with no change in supplier behaviors. Our technological advances, in our eyes, have pushed EDI and OCR to the bottom of the pile. We do also have the option to process image files.


The benefits of using FreightDocs with CloudTrade

CloudTrade’s Capture solution extracts and validates the data layer from the PDF to ensure 100% data accuracy for every freight line on the document. Once captured, this is passed to the back-office processing application in individual transactions, in a format that will enable automated processing.

FreightDocs by CloudTrade integrates with any backend system and guarantees 100% accurate data capture and touchless processing of freight and logistics documents. With a network of top global carriers already enabled, this plug-and-play data capture solution can be delivering exceptional data capture to you in just a few weeks.

  • Multiple document types
  • Access to CloudTrade carrier network
  • Digital and image-based documents processed
  • Minimal human touch
  • Fast deployment and onboarding
  • Minimal IT resources required
  • 100% validated data capture
  • Fully integrated into any TMS
  • Almost all geographic regions and languages
  • Intelligent rules-based solution

With CloudTrade, we can capture your data and use automated straight-through processing which allows your logistics business to save time and increase your margins. We help freight payment providers, 3PL’s and BPO’s increase efficiencies, slash operational costs and throughput by eliminating manual intervention in the processing of PDF and paper invoices.

We’ve solved the challenge of the ‘Document Chain’ - now all you need is our service to solve your challenge.

Download and read our Freight and Logistics case study to find out more.