What is a VDA 4986 Message?

The VDA 4986 message represents Just-in-sequence information that are sent to suppliers by their customers. In contrast to a VDA 4985 message which is used as Just-in-Time calls, the VDA 4986 message is specialized on the use case when car manufacturers want to communicate demands to suppliers who have to deliver single parts in given sequence directly to an assembly line. These JIS messages follow the VDA standards and are supplement documents for electronic purchasing processes based on delivery schedules commonly used in the automotive industries. The structure of the VDA 4986 message is based on EDIFACT

The use of the VDA 4986 Message

The assembly of a car is a highly automated procedure which still offers a lot of variety customizing a single type of car (equipment, color, etc.). That makes it necessary that suppliers producing parts which are directly sent to an OEM’s assembly line always send the right part for the right car at the right time. Therefore the VDA 4986 message is used to communicate exactly that information.  

In difference to a VDA 4984 or a VDA 4985 message a VDA 4986 message is specialized on sending information for just one specific part to be delivered and therefore contains much more information referring to the item. A VDA 4986 message therefore consists of segments containing production number (= ID of produced car), assembly line, parts family, part number, exact time to ship and a sequence number.

The parts family, also called “Modul” in the VDA 4986 message, specifies in general to what type of part the requested items belong. I.e. you can have a parts family for headlights and the part number then exactly specifies which type of headlight (with or w/o Xenon-lights, etc.) must be built into the car in the end. Why is the parts family information in a VDA 4986 message?

The parts family is used to specify which items are organized together and shall be sent inside one rack/container or other type of package that is used to send out the parts. So you can have different types of headlights in one rack when they belong to the same parts family.

And how does the supplier know where to put the item in the container/rack? This information is also sent in the VDA 4986 message with the so called sequence No. specifying in which sequence the parts must be filled. The production number of a car cannot be used, because this number may not be defined consecutively without gaps and there might be lesser equipped cars where certain parts must not be shipped and for these cars you then get no sequence, which means a vendor must leave a rack pocket empty.

As each individual item is communicated with a VDA 4986 message the calls are sent very frequently in most JIS scenarios (one exception is for instance the AUDI pearl chain process). That can mean you receive i.e. one call every minute and from the time of order to the time of shipment there may only be a timeframe of 90 minutes. That means w/o having a sophisticated EDI JIS-solution which is able to process JIS messages like the VDA 4986 in a short time you will never be chosen as a JIS supplier for automotive manufacturers/OEMs.

How does a typical VDA 4986 Structure look like?

JIS messages consist of segments and elements specified by the VDA 4986 guideline. EDI solutions – which in most cases must be an on premises solution for JIS processes – send, receive and process EDI messages like VDA 4986. In order to ensure a high quality of the process it is mandatory to follow the VDA 4986 standards which is vital for time critical processes like the Just-in-Sequence delivery. 

To summarize, a typical VDA 4986 message includes:

  • Information concerning the part and parts family that are ordered (Material No., Parts family/”Modul” No.)
  • Assembly line (Where to ship at an OEM plant)
  • Production and Sequence No. (For which car is the item and in which order it must be shipped)
  • Date and time (At which date and time must the item be shipped to an assembly line)

EDI Workflow for processing of the VDA 4986 Message

The VDA 4986 message is generated on customer side and sent from there to the supplier. The functional acknowledgement confirms the reception of the JIS message. After master data validation the information from the VDA 4986 message will update the supplier’s planning by adding or updating existing schedules, performing a rack planning and also automatically printing all required papers for the JIS item (rack label, sequence label, assembly papers).

In JIS processes order information are mainly exchanged with VDA 4986 messages but they are not the sole message for the whole delivery process. The JIS processes usually start with a VDA 4984 message defining a long term (typically several months) delivery planning, which can be further specified with a VDA 4985 message giving more precise information of quantity for given dates. The VDA 4986 messages are then ultimately used to clearly communicate the predicted time of use for the single item sent to the assembly line and therefore the data of the VDA 4986 message has the highest priority over the data of the other messages (VDA 4984, VDA 4985) sent so far. When the shipment of a JIS delivery is done this will be communicated with a VDA 4987 message.

In general documents that are exchanged between customer and suppliers via EDI follow a typical sequence of business processes. The table below shows the role of a VDA 4986 and which other message types are used in an automotive scenario:

In general documents that are exchanged between customer and suppliers via EDI follow a typical sequence of business processes. The table below shows the role of a VDA 4985 and which other message types are used in an automotive scenario:

How is the VDA 4986 Format called in other EDI Message Standards?

The VDA standard is very common in the EU region when exchanging EDI messages with automotive OEMs. In contrast to that in the NAFTA region commonly ANSI X12 message types are used – also for a wide array of industries and not just automotive. In the ASIAN region and also in the EU region EDIFACT is a widely used standard which also applies for many different industries. The EDIFACT DELJIT message and the ANSI X12 866 are used in particular for exchanging production sequence information.

The VDA 4916 message is the predecessor of the VDA 4986 message for exchanging JIS information and is still in use by some OEMs in the EU region.

Benefits using EDI and the VDA 4986 Message

Benefits exchanging JIT demands via VDA 4986 for both - the customer and the supplier - are:

  • Reduces employee workload tremendously as data has not to be typed in manually and information are exchanged very frequently
  • Preventing errors as data is generated automatically by the system w/o human interaction
  • Realizing a highly customizable car assembly process is only possible with exchanging the demands automatically via EDI and standardized JIS messages like VDA 4986

Benefits specific to suppliers

  • Managing one car order per minute is only possible by operating with an automated EDI process (no re-keying)
  • Automatic integration and planning of sequence calls saves time and reduces costs
  • Fulfilling VDA 4986 standards makes them eligible to be nominated as partners for JIS processes at the end

Benefits specific to customers

  • Direct delivery to assembly with a short time order eliminates stocks/warehouses
  • Communicating sequences ensures that the right part is delivered for the right car
  • At the end, communicating all the different types of parts and parts families automated via EDI enables the OEMs to produce high customizable cars efficiently

Typical Errors when using the VDA 4986 Message

Problems that occur when exchanging JIT and JIS messages are commonly based on wrong or missing master data, missing sequences or long running procedures. If data transmitted inside a VDA 4986 message is unknown in the supplier’s ERP system (or special JIS application which is used), an error during the importing step will be the result. Typical issues in context of VDA 4986 messages are:

  • Parts and regarded parts families (“modules”) are not maintained
  • New plant/dock/assembly line information are exchanged but not maintained on supplier side
  • Gap in sequence is happening due to transmission/planning issues
  • Connection issues lead to missing transmissions which can cause trouble soon in a time critical process like JIS-delivery

Automate the VDA 4986 Just-in-sequence Message with flexible operating models

When expanding your EDI usage, you should evaluate all options how to operate EDI. With SEEBURGER you have all options: The SEEBURGER EDI solution can be used on-premises as an in-house operation, can be booked as an EDI Cloud Service in the SEEBURGER Cloud or in public cloud environments like the ones from Google, Azure, AWS etc.

Still you have to consider that automotive OEMs not always allow cloud operation models when it comes to implement JIS processes. So be aware that in terms of JIS processes you first check with your OEM if a cloud operation model is applicable.

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