How ZAFT Is Revolutionizing The Document Digitization & Processing For Logistics Companies Through Automation

Back To All Posts | Posted on November 3, 2021

What is Digitalized and Automated Document Processing? 

Simply put, digitalized, and automated document processing is the process of reading, capturing, and converting data from paper or digital documents to a spreadsheet, logistics software platform, TMS, ERP, or internal business system. 

Document Processing for Logistics

Logistics companies must effectively communicate with numerous partners to perform freight transportation and other services. For the exchange of operational data, there is shown to be large-scale use of manual communication, such as phone, fax, and email.

It is estimated that each year customs brokers, freight forwarders, 3PLs, and NVOCC exchange over 12 billion documents that come in a variety of formats. That’s insane!

Transport and logistics companies create numerous documents every day including offers, commercial invoices, bills of lading, airway bills, arrival notices, and packing slips, etc. In addition, they often create declarations, summary declarations, packing lists, transport documents, cargo manifests, and other shipping documents. 

Extracting critical data from these documents has traditionally been a costly, labor-intensive manual process that can often lead to inaccurate outputs, errors, and compliance issues when updating records within your logistics platforms, TMS, or ERP system. 

In the transportation sector, they work at critical junctures in every international supply chain, assisting importers and exporters as they navigate complex regulatory procedures including cargo classification, admission requirements, rates of duty, and import fees. The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) estimated there could be a whopping 44% elimination of export customs work hours that are taken up by the arduous demands of creating and processing paper-based documentation to meet the clearance specifications put forward by national customs agencies.

All of these business documents are referred to as outputs, which require professional management. As you can see the collection of all shipping documents takes a lot of manual labor time and money!

Digitizing and automating these steps helps to minimize errors caused by tedious and manual handling and increase compliance. It also allows employees to concentrate on their main tasks rather than spend endless manual hours searching for crucial documents. This helps reduce sky-high payroll expenses for work that can be digitized, automated — with greater accuracy, reliability, speed, and at scale.

In addition, advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) have led to the development of software that can read documents and data like a human, pull out the desired information, and pass it to where it needs to go – with a high level of accuracy and reliability. Additionally, the tool learns as it goes - the more inputs, the smarter the software gets.  

With AI-powered document digitization and automation software, logistics companies are now beginning to see the real benefits of digitalized and automated document processing. 

The Difference Between Manual and Automated 

In the world of international trade, information needs to be clear and concise. Not only do you have to consider a language barrier, but you are also challenged with the physical distance between the shipper and the receiver. Documents need to have all the right information and be laid out in the agreed format. 

Every shipment managed has a number of documents that need processing such as Master Bills, House Bills, Supplier Invoices, Packing Lists, Bill of Lading, Arrival Notices, etc.

These documents usually get sent by email, downloaded and the details are manually extracted and keyed into a logistics software, ERP or TMS.

For example, a customs brokers or freight forwarder working with a manual system would need to:

  • Receive the documents from the customer
  • Read through and make sure information isn’t left out
  • Chase any outstanding information and ensure documents are filled incorrectly
  • Manually input this information into the relevant carrier system
  • Check the data
  • Submit the data

This manual process involves thought and effort and is extremely prone to human error. It also takes so much of your time when you could be focusing your energy on finding the best rates or other customer-focused activities. It is essentially manually reading, understanding, typing, and checking data from one place to another. 

So much work, right?!

One of the biggest issues with manual document processing for logistics companies is the time it takes to do it. The more time it takes to process these documents, the more costs your company incurs and the longer your customers have to wait. 

With an automated approach, AI-powered automated document software allows logistics companies to transform document processing from a slow, manual process into a rapid, automatic one. Document automation software is a technology that can classify structured or unstructured documents, automatically extract the data from these documents, understand them, sync them or group them in the correct category, and format them with internal business systems. These automated processes have shown to result in cost savings of more than 85% while freeing up staff to focus on higher-value and more essential tasks.

 

In simple terms, AI-powered Automated Document Processing software allows logistics companies to import different types of documents into a business system without having to do any of the manual admin typically associated with this process. 

Fun Fact

Globally, as much as 90% of data extraction and data entry still occurs manually. 

In 2019, only 55 billion of the world's 550 billion invoices were exchanged on a paperless basis. The remaining 90% would require at least some level of manual processing.

Yikes!!!

Benefits of Automated Document Processing

There are many reasons why logistics companies who want to streamline their operations may choose to implement an automated process vs a manual one.

Speed 

Freight forwarders for example, regularly work with many different clients simultaneously. An automated system allows them to dramatically reduce the time to extract the data, speeding up the process for them and their customers.

Accuracy 

With an AI- powered document automation process the risk of error is drastically reduced. This helps to minimize the chance of delays or fines as a result of poorly input data.

Cost Savings

When you save time, you save money!  This goes for both the logistics company as well as their client. Having to digitally submit documents helps to keep overhead low and reduces the employee labor needed to manage the paperwork. 

Better Use of Staff Time 

With staff no longer tied up with time-consuming manual administration, they can now focus their time and energy on high-impact, client-facing tasks. Long, boring manual data entry can be depressing to your staff. Automating this process will allow valuable resources to be used elsewhere.

Room for Growth or Expansion

Implementing a process of automating your documents will provide you with the proper tools to scale up your business as it grows allowing you to increase your company potential.

Accurate data collection

With Automated Document Process software, it is simple to categorize information together giving you access to heightened analytics. This will allow you to better understand the logistics process and make decisions to benefit your business.

Cloud Storage

Automated services allow cloud-based storage which means the documents can be accessed globally.

Recap

The cost savings associated with automated document processing (instead of manual) clearly show an increasing need for logistics companies to consider moving to an automated process. 

Research has shown that manual input of an invoice attachment can take up to 10 minutes for information to be extracted. With larger documents, this process can take up to 60 minutes.

Simplifying your logistics processes, especially in today's unprecedented supply-chain environment, is an essential step in surviving the ups and downs of the logistics industry. 

An AI-powered automated document processing software captures required data from thousands of invoices, bills of lading, purchase orders, and delivery notes within minutes. There’s more manual keying of data which allows your team to focus on higher-value tasks. You’ll save time and money, increase customer and employee satisfaction, and be able to focus on your company’s growth. 

We’ve gotcha covered with ZAFT

The quickest and most effective way to reduce the high costs of manual data entry in your organization is to automate.  

ITS has developed “ZAFT” a technology that actually “READS” documents and data sources like humans do, but with far greater speed, accuracy, and reliability.  ZAFT comes with pre-built proprietary logistics industry intelligence that self-learns as it goes.  The more inputs, the smarter ZAFT gets. 

Whether it’s Arrival Notices, Bill of Ladings, Customs invoices, Certificates of Origin, Delivery Receipts, Airway Bill (AWB) or any other document with hard-to-read or incomplete text, document digitization becomes simplified and automated with ZAFT. 

Highlights:

  • For documents that are entered manually today, Zaft can produce real savings in the range of 75-90%
  • ZAFT reads documents with 99.5% accuracy
  • Documents that used to take 15-60 minutes to handle can now be processed in less than 6 seconds!

Click here for a free demo or to talk to a sales rep!

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