For decades, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) has been the default means of data transfer between carriers, shippers, and 3PLs. project44 aims to replace incumbent technology – including EDI, web scraping, and rating software – with web service API (Application Programming Interfaces). APIs allow many types of software, written in any programming language, to communicate easily, securely, and cost-effectively.
project44’s premise is that many of the challenges inherent in traditional methods of data transfer can be alleviated or solved by the transition to APIs. Learn more about our company, our model and how we plan to transform the logistics industry in Jett McCandless’s recent interview with Bootstrapping in America – hosted by our friends at tastytrade.
Challenges of EDI Technology
Most logisticians are familiar with the challenges of EDI technology. Back-and-forth data transactions can take minutes or hours, and in some cases, fail altogether. Trading partner implementation is a lengthy and often tedious process. While EDI is technically a ‘standard,’ few standards are used; fields are often highly customized for a given shipper and information types are limited. Business processes arising to accommodate the challenges of EDI are inefficient. However, transportation and logistics providers have continued to rely on EDI. It is an entrenched part of the transportation industry. Many businesses are waiting to see which technologies can prove staying power before investing in new approaches.
Other methods of data retrieval, namely web scraping and rating software, also present challenges. Web scraping can lead to extraction delays. Structured data errors grow as scale increases. Traditional rating software can be expensive and comes with integration issues or manual processes of its own.
The application of APIs in the transportation and logistics industries is relatively recent, although APIs have been in use in other industries for more than 15 years. APIs are today’s unknown and unsung technology heroes. Just as they’ve revolutionized other industries by brining us apps like Google Maps and Uber, they’ve already started to completely change the supply chain technology game.
Despite the longevity of EDI, market pressures are exerting strain on the status quo. 3PLs and shippers must deliver real-time shipment visibility to their customers while maintaining more efficient operational processes. We’ve provided a compelling proof of concept, using APIs to address many of the challenges posed by EDI technology, FTP, and traditional rate bureaus.