Acronym for Electronic Data Interchange

What is EDI transport?

EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) is the best solution for transport companies wishing to exchange files specific to their sector from one computer to another, using a standard format. EDI is the most efficient way of exchanging personalised information from company A to company B. In concrete terms, presents itself in the form of information sent electronically. This information is recognised by both companies’ information systems, thus avoiding manual validation entries. This instant exchange automation has more advantages than exchanging information via fax, email and especially paper. The latter requires hours of processing by a large number of people, before the information can be circulated and implemented within the company.

The main reason why EDI is so popular is the ease with which the entire range of management-useful data can be integrated. This includes all sales documents used for daily management within the transport company:

  • Purchase orders;
  • Invoices;
  • Estimates;
  • Interaction with the bank;
  • Etc.

Electronic data interchanges between companies that are already partners are more frequent.


Specificities of EDI

Transactions via electronic data interchange use norms enabling any non-IT specialised people to read files originating from outside the company. For the entire range of exchanged files to be processed, it is essential to appropriately work on the data management process. If the information processed by the cannot be found, the file will be hard to read. Standard norms are necessary, to ensure the computers perfectly understand the companies conversing together.

Several types of EDI transmissions exist:

  • A direct connection (point to point) which relies on the Internet to “chat” in an automatic and perfectly secure environment;
  • Via a value-added network, known as VAN. In this case, a standard messaging service is used to exchange files;
  • The Web EDI, rather used by very small companies;
  • A mobile EDI: professional applications are rapidly increasing, despite security and readability problems on small-sized screens;
  • externalisation by means of ERP platforms (Enterprise Resource Planning software).

Without going into too much detail, there are several electronic data interchange transmission protocols available which use the Internet. This includes the SFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol) and the AS2 protocol (Applicability Statement 2).

If the language form had not been standardised (number and dates for instance), a company’s computers would send out files speaking their own language (in another format). Company A would be speaking Korean to a French or English Company B who would not understand anything. In a similar way to humans, the computers would not understand each other.


Examples and practical applications

Three key steps prior to electronic data interchange:

Step 1: document lay-out

Let’s take the example of an estimate. The sender company’s computer creates an IT file that includes all the information required for creating an document. Application software is most often needed to create files.

Step 2: formatting in compliance with EDI norms

It is essential to transfer your electronic data to a software that will convert it from its initial format to a standard format.

Step 3: connection and sending EDI files to the recipient

Once the sales documents have finally all been standardised in format, they are sent to the recipient company.


Regulatory cornerstones

The law on the protection of personal data, known as the GDPR: general data protection regulation.