Typical X12/EDIFACT/SAP IDoc mapping: transportation stages in logistics EDI

(Disclaimer 🙂 I’ve been working with logistics documents (Ocean and Road primarily, plus some Rail and Air) a lot recently, but I see them from the EDI prospective and might not fully understand business behind them. So I probably not always use the right terms, or misunderstand some details. This technical article is more about the structures used to describe transportation stages and related data.)

Another complex EDI case, related to the logistics EDI documents, is how different formats describe transportation stages (legs, conveyances, …). There are 2 main ways of describing transportation legs: stages and stops. For example, we need to move cargo from point A to point D, with points B and C in between.

A -> B -> C -> D

In case of Ocean Logistics it might be:

  • A-B, pre-carriage (warehouse to loading port)
  • B-C, main-carriage (loading to unloading ports)
  • C-D, on-carriage (unloading port to delivery destination)

In case of Motor it might be A as the loading point (warehouse) and B, C and D as Ship To store locations.

So, we could describe this route (A->D) as a set of stops (A, B, C and D) or as a set of legs (stages, conveyances, …) (AB, BC and CD). As we’ll see, different formats use one of these approaches.

Of course, for very simple cases, when we are interested in the first and last points only, we can always use Ship From and Ship To locations (N1 in X12, NAD in EDIFACT and something like E1EDKA1 in SAP Idoc (depends on the document)). It is typical for Orders or ASNs. But when it comes to Logistics, especially complex scenarios (like Ocean) and such things as Booking Request/Response, Shipping Instructions or Load Tender Motor documents, we need to know much more details – locations, requested/estimated/scheduled/actual dates of departure/arrival, carriers and sub-carriers, information about consignments/products loaded/unloaded in different points and so on. And logistic-specific documents contain structures for them.
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