The shipping and logistics industries process an enormous amount of paperwork. As companies embrace digital transformation, digitizing paperwork becomes crucial. Data entry is incredibly time-consuming and highly susceptible to human errors that result in mistakes, lost revenue, financial penalties, shipment delays, and lawsuits, amongst many other possible negative consequences.
At times, no matter how careful your employees are or how many times you review your paperwork, a mistake slips through, and your business could be penalized. Additionally, globalization, the rising cost of local labor, and the relatively low skill requirements for data entry often leads to firms outsourcing this work, further increasing the likelihood of costly mistakes.
But errors aren’t the only issue with manually entering data. Professionals spend the bulk of their time filling out these necessary documents, which decreases productivity and reduces profits and even morale.
With Mely.ai’s AI-powered cloud solution, data is intelligently extracted and processed. This efficiency increases document creation and processing by no longer relying on manual data entry. This will liberate the shipper’s time, instead allowing them to focus on business matters that add more value. Our document processing software powered by artificial intelligence overall increases productivity while reducing costs and errors.
How does Mely.ai help your business?
To better understand the benefits of Intelligent Document Processing (IDP), it’s essential to be aware of the challenges of the four primary freight documents that businesses may face.
1. Bill of lading
The Bill of Lading (BOL) is a legally binding agreement between the shipper and the transportation provider. The Shipper’s Letter of Instruction is created by the shipper for the carrier. In contrast, the BOL is issued by the carrier to the shipper.
What information is typically required for a Bill of Lading?
It requires the piece count, weight, description of the goods, and addresses.
Much of the information in a Bill of Lading is the same in many freight documents. If there are mistakes in the BOL, then the inaccuracies will carry over in all documentation, causing many penalties, such as loss of cargo ownership. Given the number of documents your business processes, Mely.ai offers access to all your data across multiple departments for better business intelligence.
2. Commercial invoice
A Commercial Invoice is a vital freight document, allowing the shipment to pass through customs. It is the proof of sale between the seller and purchaser and determines the amount of duty and taxes due.
The difficulty with filling out this type of document is that there is no standardized format, and it requires almost up to twelve points of information, varying from addresses to tax information.
With this large amount of information, it’s easy to miss an important point. An error in the Commercial Invoice could potentially lead to under or overpaying duties and taxes and delays in shipment.
Fortunately, Mely.ai holds no restrictions for templates and formats. The information is automatically structured for your business and then communicated to your systems and partners.
3. Certificate of Origin
The Certificate of Origin is an important international shipping document depending on the destination. It details and certifies the country of origin where the goods were manufactured or processed.
What information is typically required for a Certificate of Origin?
It requires the name and contact information for the exporter, producer, and receiver (if all different), a clear description of goods, HS code, the quantity and weight, the country of origin, the air waybill number, the means of transport, and the commercial invoice number.
This freight document requires precise information. With Mely.ai, you no longer need to rely on manual data entry. Plus, you can turn all your documents into retrievable business-ready data to make the best decision for your company.
4. Carrier Manifest
The Carrier Manifest, also known as the Shipping Manifest, is a crucial transport document for any international e-commerce that makes or receives shipments. It requires detailed information that the carrier needs to create an invoice for the shipment. This type of manifest aids in tracking shipment and knowing the delivery method used.
What information is typically required for a Carrier Manifest?
It requires the operator’s name and details, the shipper’s and receiver’s information, the Bill of Lading number, a clear description of goods, quantity, and weight. And the means of transport and its route.
Businesses use multiple freight documents with carried-over information, which is timely and risky. Thankfully, technology has evolved enough to help companies process these documents while saving time and money and avoiding mistakes. Intelligent Document Processing pulls data from other documents, such as the Bill of Lading, and correctly applies its number to the Carrier Manifest.
The additional benefits of Mely.ai Solutions
Mely.ai Solutions’ state-of-the-art Intelligent Document Processing platform uses machine learning and natural language processing. Intelligent Document Processing (IDP) technology extracts lengthy commercial invoices quickly and accurately, page after page. The extracted data will be structured for you to use in our platform or to send to your current Customs Management System (CMS) for final touches before submitting to CBP/CBSA for processing Customs Clearance.
We created the platform with the seller and buyer in mind, tailoring it to adhere to any document their business requires. There are three applications for this platform:
- Transportation: This area requires an enormous amount of paperwork. Mely.ai can help streamline all the necessary documentation.
- Compliance: The government holds specific industries to a higher standard, like the food industry. If there is ever a health crisis, proper shipment documentation will be necessary for traceability throughout the supply chain & logistics process.
- Customs: Experienced customs clearance professionals spend more than half of their time manually processing documents.
The platform’s data validation and enrichment capabilities allow businesses to be confident that the information being inputted is accurate, ultimately reducing the number of steps in their workflows.
Getting started with Mely.ai Solutions is fast and straightforward. Our team understands the requirements in the consultation process. It supports the project in all phases, including business analysis, planning, proof of concepts, business rules, solution architecture, and deployment. Once implemented, our solution extracts data from documents automatically, validates data, merges with other data sources, and provides final results for you to use as business intelligence.
Book a demo today to see how our platform can help.
While some logistics companies work manually, others have begun to automate their international trade document processing.
But how feasible is automation? Can logistics companies really automate their trade document processing systems? Should those that rely on manual data-entry take the time to digitize?
This article will provide answers to these questions and explain how automation plays into logistics’ companies digital transformation. In addition, the sections below will describe what trade documentation processing automation looks like—and outline the benefits of automating.
Document Processing: A Definition
Document processing consists of capturing data and converting it into a spreadsheet or internal system.
Logistics teams must process a number of documents with every shipment, from commercial invoices and customs forms, to packing lists and bills of ladling.
These documents are often processed manually. Manual processing, however, is prone to a number of risks and challenges—many of which can be addressed with automation.
Digital Transformation for Logistics Companies
It’s a common scenario: A company that once relied on paper-based processes hopes to move into the future. To save time and better serve customers, business leaders decide to adopt digital, paperless solutions.
The logistics space is no exception to the digital transformation rule. Now more than ever, companies are striving for a complete offline-to-online transformation solution. For teams in our industry, this will largely rely on automation: automated customs forms, PDF generation, content tracking, and more.
The overarching goal is for logistics companies to work more efficiently. As we enter an increasingly globalized society, businesses can expedite their international transportation, export and import procedures, customs clearance, and more with automation.
The Challenges of Manual Trade Document Processing
Logistics companies that still work manually may encounter a number of trade document processing roadblocks. These include:
Manual paperwork takes a great deal of time to complete and file, creating a backlog for logistics workers. It is also more prone to human error than automated alternatives.
Data storage issues
Another challenge is manually storing order and shipping trade documentation. By automating their document storage, companies can take a more streamlined approach and conserve team resources.
Lack of a technical background
Most trade documents are government-issued. Without an internal IT team or an expert third-party tech vendor, however, logistics companies may struggle to comply with different countries’ requirements.
Logistics teams today can save time and focus on their core business by automating their trade document processing, shipping requirement verification, and order storage information. This will reduce the risk of shipping delays, compliance violations, and more.
The Benefits of Automated Trade Document Processing
Logistics automation will help companies track the movement of their goods more effectively. These are just some of the benefits of automating your international trade document processing:
Real-time data access
Trade document processing automation allows companies to load and analyze their data in real time. By running reports in just a few clicks, logistics teams can make better business decisions—elevating their inventory management and processing invoices more seamlessly.
Speed and scalability are integral role to logistics companies’ trade document processing abilities. With automation software, the solution will automatically input data into the correct system when a new order comes in, and then consolidate customs documentation accordingly.
Better use of employee time
With an automated trade document processing solution, team members who once focused on data entry can take on more impactful, client-facing work. This will improve staff retention and job satisfaction—without compromising the quality of your team’s trade documents.
While errors are far from the norm where logistics companies’ manual processes are concerned, they do happen from time to time. By automating your international trade document processing, your teams can prevent errors from occurring in the first place.
Mistakes cost businesses not only time, but money. Problems may result in higher shipping expenses, inventory excess, planning and coordination issues, and documentation-error penalties. Automation has a proven ROI by helping to keep these expenses down.
Cloud-based automation solutions are accessible from anywhere. With enterprise-level security and unprecedented reliability, many logistics companies appreciate the ease automation software brings. Trade document processing automation is truly an integral part of logistics teams’ digital transformation.
These are just some of the reasons logistics companies are moving toward trade document automation. The next section will list some of the documents that can be processed automatically.
Which International Trade Documents Can Be Processed Automatically?
Many logistics documents can be automated. Global logistics teams may choose to automate the processing of the following documents:
The right solution will extract invoice data and automatically export it to your logistics company’s internal systems. This will make commercial invoicing easier—and faster—than ever.
Automated customs document processing allows goods to clear customs more efficiently. An automated system will sort and process declaration forms quickly and securely.
Included in every shipment, packing lists describe the type and quantity of goods being delivered. Artificial intelligence lets teams capture and export this data in real time.
Certificates of analysis
Attesting that your goods have undergone the required testing can be tedious. So can proving that you’ve achieved the necessary results. Again, this is where automation may come in.
Bills of ladling
These documents describe what goods are being shipped and serve as a receipt for the consignee. Since bills of ladling increase transparency, the data should be readily-available.
Again, this is where automation comes in.
How Does Automated Trade Document Processing Work?
We’ve discussed the benefits of digital transformation and described the types of trade documents that can be automated.
This section will define the stages involved in international trade document processing automation. A brief overview: Document automation software classifies documents by grouping them into the right category, and then pulling and storing data as needed.
These are the steps that make up automated trade document processing:
Here machine learning models interpret information and patterns from logistics documents. Then, these same models classify the documents by type.
Once the document is classified, the machine learning models extract the data from the document by interpreting the context of the file and content.
Sometimes machine learning models might pick up on an extraction exception. Users will then be directed to parts of the document where changes need to be made.
At this point, the data will move from the documents received into the relevant account record. Approved users will be notified once the document has been processed.
To summarize, document automation software extracts data from international trade documents, interprets the data, and syncs the data with logistics company systems. This results in cost savings of more than 80%—saving teams time and freeing them up to focus on more meaningful work.
Embrace Logistics Automation with Mely AI
Logistics teams can leverage automation to increase visibility into their data, make better decisions, reduce errors, and save time and money. The benefits of automating your international trade document processing are truly expansive.
Here’s the bottom line: Document processing automation is well within reach. The right software will help you transform your manual document processing solution from a slow, error-prone system into a fast, automated alternative. We’re confident you’ll never look back.
Interested in getting started? Book your free demo with Mely AI to learn more.