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Data exchange

Industry spotlight: Flatfile keeps logistics pipelines flowing

From receipt to delivery, the success of your supply chain relies on your ability to know where your inventory is at all times. The more units you need to track, the more complicated that process gets. Whether you are using a transport management system (TMS) or relying on third-party logistics vendors and apps, there will likely be a time when you need to exchange data with vendors and business partners, beyond the walls of your own operating environment. Breaking out of the confines of a closed system requires a lingua franca to ensure that no SKU, no parcel, no replacement part gets lost in the shuffle.

It’s messy out there

Maybe you have hundreds of customers; maybe even thousands. It is likely that none of them manage their data in the same way. They each have different products with different specifications. Even the way they refer to similar products and services can vary widely. Your job, as the logistics enterprise, is to get these goods from point A to point B and beyond. You also need to do it quickly and without missing a beat. If you are spending too much time preparing data to be entered into your system, time is being wasted. That time would be better spent focusing on your core skills (moving things), rather than preparing data. And yet that data is critical to your success. You’ve got to move the products AND move the data. It’s just that sometimes it’s the latter that can cause the most trouble.

Many roads, no rules

For many companies, the standard procedure for exchanging data is to export it to .csv (comma separated values) files. These simple text files containing raw data are the backbone of spreadsheet applications like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. However, because there is no standard that defines the content of columns, merging data from two systems requires data managers to reconcile like content, format it correctly, and place it into the correct corresponding column in the target spreadsheet. 

This process is the source of great tedium, and newly introduced errors. Many businesses have shouldered the task of building a custom solution for handling this data. But that path comes with the added burden of maintaining the bespoke solution, accounting for upgrades and changes to data columns, and constant human oversight.

The smarter path to data exchange

Flatfile uses artificial intelligence (AI) to quickly identify data types and reformat it in an intelligent way that works for your business. After prompting the human user to answer the difficult questions, Flatfile stores these decisions for future use and applies them intuitively to new problems. The result is the super swift analysis, correction, and exchange of data between systems that keeps logistics operations running smoothly all day long.

All your data, everywhere

Flatfile is designed for both software developers, who can use the Flatfile application programming interface (API) to integrate our technology into existing software systems, and data managers, who can easily collaborate through a web browser without special knowledge of software development. This broad usability makes the data exchange process seamless across your workflow. The result is that enterprise resource management (ERP) systems, warehouse tracking systems, TMS systems, handheld devices, and delivery fleet management systems can all share the same data faster and do so with greater accuracy and efficiency. In short, Flatfile greases the wheels of the logistics enterprise to keep that pipeline flowing.