What is an ANSI X12 EDI 856 Message?

The ANSI X12 EDI 856 message – commonly known as Advanced Shipping Notice (ASN) – is a document the supplier sends to a customer for notification about an upcoming delivery via EDI. The message follows the ANSI X12EDI message standards and is used by manufacturers as well as by retailers.

The use of the ANSI X12 EDI 856 Message

ANSI X12 856 messages are used to inform customers about deliveries shipped by the supplier. The information contains all relevant information referring the shipment.

When the EDI 856 ASN arrives at the customer and is accepted, the shipment information is automatically booked into their ERP system. In the next step the ASN information can be used to plan the future inventory usage and when receiving the goods the physical shipment just needs to be aligned with the data from the already processed ANSI X12 856 message.

How does a typical ANSI X12 EDI 856 Structure look like?

An ASN message uses segments and elements defined by the ANSI X12 EDI 856 guideline. EDI solutions – which can either be an on premises solution or EDI Cloud Service – send, receive and process EDI messages like the EDI 856. It is required to follow the ANSI X12 EDI 856 standards to ensure a high quality of the process.

A typical ANSI X12 EDI 856 Message includes:

  • Information concerning parts that are shipped (Material No., Material description)
  • Quantities that are sent
  • Shipment and Arrival date
  • Ship to address (Plant, Dock/Gate addresses)
  • Terms of delivery which can be based on INCOTERMS. INCOTERMS stands for International Commercial Terms which are a set of pre-defined commercial terms provided by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
  • Carrier data (Carrier name, Means of transport, etc.)
  • Packaging (Package No., Package Type, Serial No.)

Processing of the ANSI X12 EDI 856 Message

The supplier generates an ANSI X12 EDI 856 message typically at the moment a shipment is done for the customer. On customer side the receiving system validates the ASN message from the supplier against the ANSI X12 EDI 856 specifications and sends back a functional acknowledgement (ANSI X12 997 message) confirming the reception of the ANSI X12 EDI 856 message. After reception the ASN message is forwarded to the ERP system where it will show up as planned shipment.

ANSI X12 EDI 856 Message in context of ANSI X12 EDI 830- and ANSI X12 EDI 850 message

An EDI 856 ASN is used typically in the manufacturing and in the retail industries in conjunction with order processes, delivery schedules and purchase orders. In both industry scenarios the customer first sends an order message either as ANSI X12 EDI 830- or as ANSI X12 EDI 850 indicating what the supplier has to deliver and when. At the delivery step the supplier is creating an ANSI X12 EDI 856 message answering either of the 2 document types triggering the shipment.

EDI Workflow for processing of the ANSI X12 EDI 856 Message

Documents exchanged between EDI trading partners follow a typical sequence of business processes. The sequence of exchanged ANSI X12 messages depends on the industry. The figures below show the role of an ANSI X12 EDI 856 standard in a manufacturing scenario and in the retail industry:

How is the ANSI X12 EDI 856 Format called in other EDI Message Standards?

In the Northern America region ANSI X12 has seen a wide adoption as the primary EDI standard. In Europe and ASIA EDIFACT and VDA messages are encountered more often. The EDIFACT defines DESADV as standard for exchanging ASN information. In the automotive industries you also come across the VDA4987 and VDA4913 standard to exchange shipment information.

Benefits using EDI and the ANSI X12 EDI 856 Message

Benefits exchanging shipment information via ANSI X12 EDI 856 for both - the customer and the supplier - are:

  • Reduces employee workload tremendously as data has not to be keyed in manually as shipment information is exchanged very frequently
  • Preventing errors as data is generated automatically by the system w/o human interaction
  • Reduces costs as less paper has to be exchanged

Benefits specific to suppliers

  • Automatic generation of shipments information in form of an EDI 856 message saves time and reduces costs
  • Fulfilling ANSI X12 EDI 856 standards will lead to higher acceptance for new customer projects and better supplier ratings

Benefits specific to customers

  • Lesser workload and errors as information is already present with the ANSI X12 856 message and doesn’t need to be typed in by customer personnel.
  • Shipment information is received in advance so that planning for production and inventory can be enhanced. It is practically impossible to run a JIT (Just-In-Time) or JIS (Just-In-Sequence) assembly line without ASNs, which is due to the risk of not knowing if supplies arrive on time.
  • Goods receipt is accelerated as data referring to the shipment is already on the customer side. In addition with barcode labels the data from the EDI 856 message can quickly be aligned using RFID- or Barcode-Scanners reducing human errors at goods receipt tremendously.

Typical Errors when using the ANSI X12 EDI 856 Message

Problems that occur when exchanging ASN messages are commonly based on wrong data referring to the shipment. Wrong package information or reflecting the package structure incorrectly in the EDI 856 ASN are errors customers usually face. Because of that some customers also started to introduce penalties for suppliers not sending in the proper ANSI X12 EDI 856 format or send no EDI 856 ASN at all as it raises significant effort on their side to correct or key in the data manually. Typical issues when sending ANSI 856 messages are:

  • Quantity in ASN does not match with the quantity actually shipped
  • Packaging numbers are wrong or missing
  • Packaging structure (which boxes belong to which pallet) is not in line with the actual shipment

Automate the EDI 856 Message with flexible operating models

ASNs are key to your supplier rating and/or your reliable supply chain management. When you look into replacing an outdated EDI solution you worked with so far, you should evaluate all options how to reliably operate your next generation EDI solution. With SEEBURGER you have all choices wide open including on premises as an in-house operation, or using an EDI Cloud Service in the SEEBURGER Cloud or in public cloud environments like the ones from Google, Azure, AWS etc..

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