Suppliers of wiring materials switch to electronic document interchange

15. January 2019

3rd January 2019, Brno – The supply chain with wiring and electric products has become another segment that is switching to automation of processing of business documents using standard format for structured data interchange (EDI). The most important distributors under the Association of Electrotechnical Wholesalers are connecting their suppliers. Processing and translation of documents within individual business counterparties is provided by the EDI provider CCV Information systems. The first to exceed 70 suppliers connected to electronic document interchange has been Sonepar, that sells hundreds of thousands of wiring items from more than 400 producers.

Companies in the field of supply and distribution of wiring and electric products and services have decided to significantly accelerate the transition to the unified way of exchanging and processing business documents in the structured format of EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) in the Czech market this year. The goal is to gradually eliminate the inefficient ways of transmitting data, be it paper documents or mail correspondence and other ways requiring high level of office administration and manual engagement of workers.

Furthest way along document digitization travelled by Sonepar  

One of the largest domestic distributors, Sonepar currently has more than 65% of the volume of documents with more than 70 suppliers connected to the electronic communication with the aim to gradually connect all major partners.  

Tomáš Šťásek, Head of IT at Sonepar, comments on the current practice: „Previously, we used to send orders to most vendors in PDF by e-mail and some of the bigger suppliers had their own portal solutions into which we manually imported an order data file that had to be first exported from the system by purchaser, which was a few steps more. From the other side, we then received a large number of invoices only in paper or as a PDF. Even though some suppliers did send invoices electronically via e-mail in various versions of ISDOC format or other specific formats, for those it was necessary to code loading programmes which was laborious and costly.“

As an ideal solution for exchange of business documents in fully electronic form, including their automatic machine processing, the standard EDI was chosen, that is being used internationally. 

„With the increase of our turnover, the number of received lines and invoices has grown proportionally and on top of that, we wanted to facilitate the work with goods receipt for workers at the central warehouse so that they could ship the orders to customers the following day,“ describes the key reasons for the change Tomáš Šťásek, and adds: „We were searching for such a solution that would be acceptable for the greatest number of suppliers possible so that on our side, we did not have to deal with a tailored interconnection with each of them individually. Finally, we chose a proven cloud solution ORION EDI by CCV Information systems, which provides us with all format translation and document distribution to counterparties across secure network over one interface.“

Benefits of EDI deployment from warehouse to accounting

The deployment of EDI communication into Sonepar’s information system consisted of modifying the receipt of data formats for 4 types of documents, setup of communication channel and testing. A pilot project with three vendors to verify that the setup was correct then followed. Only after that did Sonepar launch contacting other suppliers. 

„At first we had some concerns about how this solution would be received by our partners but in the end, the engagement was quite smooth. To a large extent, this was also due to a certain degree of their readiness, some of them had already been using EDI, and so there was no problem in negotiating with EDI providers and interconnecting. Afterwards, those who did not have EDI and waited for a practical demonstration of the operability of the solution were also involved,“ describes the beginnings of partner involvement Šťásek.

„Now with hindsight, I can definitely say that the current volume of received invoices and items would not be possible for us to manage in the current number of employees and especially warehouse and economic department can no longer imagine functioning without EDI communication. The greatest benefit of the implementation is therefore effectiveness and facilitation of work,“ added Šťásek.

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