Many companies aspiring to supply chain excellence have integrated advanced shipping notification into their goods receiving operations. If you work in logistics, you are very likely to come across the term, unless you happen to work in one of the shrinking number of organisations that hasn’t implemented ASNs.
While the number of companies without ASNs is heading downward, there are challenges which prevent some businesses from adopting the process, the most common of which relates not to the companies themselves, but to their suppliers.
You see, advanced shipping notification is not something a company can implement unilaterally. To understand why this is though, you first need to know a little about how the process works.
A Document and a Process
While advanced shipping notification is a process, the concept is named for the electronic document which makes the whole thing possible. Before the dawn of the Internet, the closest suppliers could come to sending an ASN was to produce a bill of lading which traveled along with each customer shipment, detailing the contents.
With the advent of electronic data interchange or EDI, it became possible for suppliers to send shipment details not with customer shipments, but well in advance of them. This was how the advanced shipment notification concept came about and is the reason it can be challenging to implement.
In order for your company to make use of advanced shipment notification, its suppliers must have the capability to transmit ASNs and your internal systems must be able to receive and process them.
Sadly, despite the concept having been around now for many years, there are still plenty of suppliers that don’t have ASN capability. For some reason, the practice has enjoyed almost ubiquitous adoption among manufacturers for use in raw-material supply, but has not gained the same ground in distribution centre operations.
The Benefits of ASNs for Goods Receiving
Advanced shipment notification can make a dramatic difference to the cost, speed, and efficiency of DC goods receiving activity, which is why its slow penetration into distribution centre operations is surprising. It might not sound like a big deal, but the electronic transmission of shipment data from supplier to receiver offers a number of important cost, time, speed and accuracy advantages, for example:
- Goods receiving teams gain early awareness of what will be arriving, enabling them to plan labour and resources in advance
- ASNs facilitate automation. For instance, barcode scanning can be used to check pallet contents against the data contained in an ASN
- Manual data entry is mostly eliminated when advanced shipment notification is used, which means less chance of data entry errors occurring
When all the advantages of advanced shipment notification are put together, cost savings in goods receiving activity can be as high as 40 to 50%. So if you find yourself working in a receiving environment where ASNs are not in use, it might be a good idea to ask someone the reason why.
There may be a good reason, or it may simply be that nobody’s thought about the benefits. Your question might generate some interest and may even become the catalyst for some investment—and a big improvement in goods receiving performance.
Learn More About Improving DC Processes
It’s always good to share thoughts and ideas about how processes can be improved, especially when you are new to a company. After all, that’s one of the reasons companies bring in new blood.
Now you know about how advanced shipment notifications can improve goods receiving, you might like to get some more improvement ideas for your personal knowledge bank. If so, check out Supply Chain Leaders Academy e-Class number 15.
Of course you can only do that if you’re an Academy member though. If you haven’t yet joined, don’t worry—we’ve plenty of space and time for new members, and we look forward to welcoming you aboard soon.