Over the past several years, the logistics industry has been propelled into the digital age by a powerful combination of consumer expectations, government regulations and technological innovations. Some companies have been eager to adopt these tools, while others remain skeptical about the benefits, effort — and risks — associated with new technologies.

Despite the myriad of high-tech solutions that have been introduced to the logistics industry — from instant load booking to real-time shipment tracking — there have been few holistic updates to the way that shipping documentation is processed.

Both logistics industry leaders and government representatives tend to champion the shift to electronic shipping documents and the use of AI, pointing to opportunities for significant financial gain and more transparent supply chains. This favorable perception has not yet translated into widespread adoption, however.

Research from the International Chamber of Commerce and World Trade Organization revealed that only about 1% of the dozens of documents exchanged during the course of an international shipment are fully digitized. This means that virtually all companies in the global shipping markets still rely heavily on paper-based shipping documents.
Processing paper documents is not only time-consuming, it also creates an environment rife with human error. This process often stalls shipments, causing delivery delays and leading to exorbitant fees. 

Beyond the shipment-level impact, sticking to paper documents prevents transportation and logistics providers from realizing the full potential of artificial intelligence solutions, predictive analytics and machine learning to better understand their processes, eliminate bottlenecks, optimize delivery and provide exceptional service to their customers. This keeps companies trapped in the past.
Achieving universal adoption of fully electronic trade documentation worldwide will take time, but forward-thinking companies do not need to wait around for their less tech-savvy counterparts. They can leverage intelligent document processing and automation today in order to seize opportunities and secure a competitive edge in a swiftly evolving shipping landscape.

How intelligent document processing (IDP) contributes to operational resilience

By automating the extraction, processing and analysis of shipping documents, emerging technology ushers in a new era of operational resilience. It minimizes manual errors, reduces processing times, and ensures consistent and accurate data handling. In an industry where time is of the essence, the precision of AI-driven IDP elevates efficiency to new heights, ensuring a robust operational foundation.

Applying AI-powered IDP means:

Utilizing skilled resources for higher-value tasks than data keying.

Staying clear of liabilities and delays at customs clearance.

Processing orders faster and getting goods to the customer in time.

Serving more customers faster.

Getting the right data into the right system without human intervention.

Unveiling trends and bottlenecks and identifying opportunities to improve.

Initiating the billing process while the driver is still on the road.

Providing end-to-end transparency and traceability of deliveries.

Getting results from the beginning

Purpose-built, pre-trained AI models can be designed to understand the complexity of shipping documents — including commercial invoices, arrival notices, packing lists, waybills and bills of lading, certificates, and delivery notes. This is the key to seeing an immediate return on investment.

A purpose-built  IDP platform, such as ABBYY Vantage, understands shipping documents and extracts data from even the most challenging forms with minimal setup and stand-out straight-through processing rates. With ABBYY, human-in-the-loop (HITL) manual review is now reserved for exceptions only.

Agility and adaptability

The landscape of global trade is in constant flux, demanding adaptability at every turn. A low-code IDP platform offers this agility by swiftly adjusting to changing regulations, document formats and compliance standards. Developers are in control of the automation and can immediately react to industry dynamics, effortlessly incorporating updates and alterations.

This agility allows logistics companies to stay ahead of the curve, adapting swiftly to regulatory shifts, market fluctuations and customer demands, while maintaining compliance and operational fluidity.

Additionally, ABBYY’s platform is plug-and-play for most users, seamlessly working with transportation management, customs filing and warehouse management systems. This makes adoption low-stress and accessible.

Customer satisfaction through expedited processes

In a customer-centric industry, swift and error-free documentation translates into enhanced customer satisfaction. Mobile capture — on the road, in the truck cabin or at the dock — paired with highly accurate IDP expedites the documentation process, reducing turnaround times for shipments and ensuring accuracy.

Delays due to paperwork and errors can become a problem of the past, fostering trust and loyalty among clients. The ability to provide real-time updates on shipment status adds a layer of transparency, further elevating customer satisfaction.

The integration of highly optimized, AI-driven IDP software into the transportation and logistics industry is not merely a technological upgrade; it is a catalyst for transforming business outcomes. Embracing this technology is a strategic imperative for companies aspiring to thrive in a landscape where efficiency and adaptability are key.

AI hype vs. reality 

AI has dominated much of the innovation conversation in recent years. Despite the increased attention, however, many logistics companies remain hesitant to adopt emerging technologies that utilize AI.

This hesitancy is likely rooted in a combination of skepticism and fear. Industry leaders view promises of skyrocketing efficiency as “too good to be true” while simultaneously worrying about the impact AI could have on human workers.

Companies on the leading edge of adoption — like those partnering with ABBYY — have seen the benefits of AI firsthand. The reality is that modern technology not only lives up to the hype in terms of operational gains, it also strengthens human employees instead of undercutting their importance.

Industry use cases for AI and IDP

Customs clearance — CustomsTrack and Portumna Pastry

Ireland-based pastry supplier Portumna Pastry was regularly experiencing significant customs clearance delays following Brexit.

ABBYY utilized its IDP solution to help CustomsTrack and Portumna Pastry automate the customs declaration process and reduce clearance time by more than 90%. After partnering with ABBYY, CustomsTrack saw average customs clearance time drop from one hour to five minutes. 

AP automation — DHL

DHL is the world’s leading logistics provider, generating over $89 billion in revenue in 2023. Despite the company’s size, it has historically treated invoice processing as a largely manual process. This required dedicating dozens of employees to simply processing invoices.

In 2021, DHL partnered with ABBYY to roll out intelligent automation solutions across several departments, resulting in a 70% increase in overall efficiency. The company was able to automatically process thousands of invoices from over 120 vendors, reducing errors and increasing productivity. 

Order processing and delivery — Carlsberg

Carlsberg is one of the world’s leading brewery groups. A couple years ago, the company saw a need to overhaul its order processing and delivery model in order to accelerate its time to market and improve customer satisfaction.

Before partnering with ABBYY in 2022, Carlsberg often received orders via email. The company then relied on employees to manually enter this order information into its system, leading to delays and errors. The company’s delivery registration process also relied on manual inputs from employees.

Carlsberg was able to cut out these manual tasks by integrating ABBYY’s IDP solutions, achieving a touchless order processing rate of 92% and saving its employees a combined 140-plus hours per month.

Freight audit and payment — AFS

AFS is a leader in transportation cost management. As a result, the company processes over 70,000,000 invoices each year for customers. AFS has always been tech-savvy, adopting electronic data interchange solutions earlier than much of the industry. Despite this, the company was still manually processing millions of invoices every year before partnering with ABBYY.

AFS has been utilizing ABBYY FlexiCapture since 2014, enabling the company to process invoices in half the time without adding significant head count. Additionally, the solution allows AFS to capture significantly more information than ever, analyzing 46 fields as opposed to only 18.

Customer service — East Midlands Railway

East Midlands Railway receives thousands of emails a day. Historically, the company has handled these messages manually, eating up untold hours of employee time and delaying important responses. To rectify this, ABBYY worked with East Midlands Railway and its partner Engeneum to integrate an email classification system that works without manual input.

Implementing ABBYY’s IDP with advanced classification automated the email process by capturing key data from text on emails and document attachments, which is then automatically routed to the company’s customer relationship management solution. This email solution allows East Midlands Railway to process 65,000 emails each year while saving time, increasing productivity and improving customer service.

Click here to learn more about how ABBYY partners with transportation and logistics companies to future-proof their shipping operations and keep their goods moving via intelligent automation.

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