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Keeping Technology Relevant in Supply Chain

The supply chain demands a high level of system-to-system data exchange to accurately and efficiently move product from manufacturing to final distribution. Critical to that data flow are both APIs and EDIs widely used across many different logistics software solutions but do have their differences. Some of those differences are highlighted below. SecurCapital and technology partner TechSera can help sort through these and advise on different transition strategies for expanding your business.  

With EDI(electronic data interface), companies are able to send large amounts of data at the same time, including the ability to transfer large quantities of documents with a single transfer. This is  convenient and efficient, and also contributes to minimizing any potential inaccuracies. 

EDI establishes a clearly defined standard format allowing documents to be easily exchanged by all parties. This leads to a significant increase in accuracy and efficiency, while at the same time reducing the number of human errors that inevitably occur from illegible handwriting or incorrect document handling. The end result of EDI implementation is a vast improvement in the quality and reliability of the company’s data.

But while the EDI standards system has a lot of benefits, there are drawbacks to it as well. Each of the standards has three different versions, which means that the amount of standards that are available is quite high. That can make it difficult for smaller businesses that are trading with larger companies that use updated versions of the same standards. Another drawback of EDI that’s forcing some companies to look for alternatives, is the fact that they aren’t able to keep up with some of the technological software developments, such as real-time visibility and responsiveness, sometimes taking a long time to configure in accordance to business requirements.

Application Programming Interface, or API, a cloud based technology is a set of programming instructions and standards for accessing web-based software applications that allow software platforms to communicate with each other. Basically, anAPI serves as an interface between software programs and helps them interact effectively. This allows software systems to communicate with each other without any intervention from users. A good example of this is online purchasing when a credit card information to buy an item online. APIs will confirm that the credit card info is valid, the application sends back a confirmation that the order can be processed.

In logistics, APIs provides real-time data for shippers, carriers, forwarders, custom brokers, warehouses and final mile recipients to manage transactions through the supply chain. It eliminates the barriers to data retrieval and use in legacy systems.  APIs can interact with multiple systems via their universal nature and can be maintained and updated without disrupting shipping operations. It is fundamental to Big Data analytics. Big Data and analytics are only as good as the accuracy in the data mined. In other words, recent data is critical to using analytics to their fullest potential. Implementing an API costs less than EDI, but testing during implementation can cause systems to crash.

In the logistics industry, APIs clearly have innovative features and greater adoption rates. However, EDI remains a popular choice because of its robust security and reliability that has made it a long-time industry standard for data exchange. Even if it isn’t yet at the point of completely replacing the EDI format, APIs are the new standard for transferring information.As shippers and carriers continue to upgrade technology, APIs will eventually replace the EDI-based industry.

Abhijeet Singh