Advance shipping notice consists of an electronic document that streamlines goods receipt tasks

Advance shipping notice (ASN/EDI 856) speeds up goods receipts

26 Aug 2021

Advance shipping notice or advance ship notice (ASN) arose from the need to reduce errors in deliveries of goods, especially in the B2B (business-to-business) environment. This electronic document, which includes detailed information on the contents of the shipment, automates the transfer of this data between the supplier and the customer, streamlining the receipt of the goods.

In this post, we analyse this electronic document, the information it contains, and how it’s integrated with the company’s various software programs.

What is advance shipping notice (ASN)?

An advance shipping notice consists of an electronic document sent automatically by a supplier’s software application to the business or warehouse set to receive the products once they’ve been dispatched. In other words, this electronic document indicates that the order has been shipped (advice of dispatch or dispatch note) so that the customer can prepare to receive the goods.

Advance shipping notice expedites this logistics process in such a way that, when the products arrive at the warehouse, operators simply need to scan their barcode to have all the necessary relevant data to receive them (product in question, units, supplier, dispatch date, etc.). This way, the workers can anticipate their arrival and not waste time on analysing documentation, cross-checking information, or entering data into the system.

This notification is sent in the form of EDI (electronic data interchange). EDI messages comprise a system that makes it possible to send digitised documentation in line with an international standard so that it can be read and interpreted automatically by different software apps. This saves time, costs, and, above all, eliminates errors caused by manual document management.

Advance shipping notice is based on several international standards widely accepted in sectors such as the retail, e-commerce, and automotive industries. In the US, the EDI 856 standard — defined by the X12 organisation of the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) — is common. In the rest of the world, the DESADV or despatch advice message is generally used. This standard falls within the framework of UN/EDIFACT, a set of standards developed by the United Nations.

Ultimately, advance shipping notice constitutes an evolution for logistics when it comes to deliveries: it automatically notifies the customer’s program of which goods it will receive, their condition, and their origin, which streamlines processes and eliminates errors in information transfer and product management.

The advance shipping notice includes a GS1-128 code for the receiver to automatically identify the products that have arrived
The advance shipping notice includes a GS1-128 code for the receiver to automatically identify the products that have arrived

What information does an advance shipping notice contain?

An advance shipping notice provides information relating to the shipment, as well as the physical characteristics of the product or good. This is obtained from the warehouse management system (WMS) and the ERP (enterprise resource planning) system.

Among other details, this electronic document incorporates:

  • Shipment number and date
  • Delivery date and conditions
  • Information related to the package shipment (addresses, transportation conditions, etc.)
  • Order form and data (what goods are being delivered and in what quantity, product serial and batch number, etc.)
  • Detailed unit load (type of packing or packaging, etc.)
  • SSCC (Serial Shipping Container Code) or GS1-128 barcode to speed up receipt

With all this information, the company has better traceability of the order on the way, as it knows all the details on the goods dispatched, the date they left the warehouse, and when they’re expected to arrive at their destination.

With the information supplied by the advance shipping notice, Easy WMS can generate and print labels with the data of the products to be received
With the information supplied by the advance shipping notice, Easy WMS can generate and print labels with the data of the products to be received

Benefits of advance shipping notice

Production and storage organisation methods such as just-in-time call for flexible logistics solutions that ensure the quick receipt of material and strict stock control, even when the goods aren’t in the warehouse. Advantages of advance shipping notice include:

  • Complete visibility of the order receipt process: this electronic document guarantees that companies can exercise control over their orders, always knowing when — and where, in the case of multinationals — they will receive the merchandise and in what condition.
  • Accuracy in product shipments: the advance shipping notice validates that the order dispatched by the supplier corresponds to that received by the customer, avoiding errors in product deliveries.
  • Agility in goods receipts: warehouse operators can prepare in advance to receive the merchandise, thus optimising space and human resources.

To implement the advance shipping notice system and reap its benefits, it’s necessary to digitise stock management in the logistics centre. To do so, you first have to install a WMS, which knows the status of the products in the warehouse in detail and the exact time they are dispatched. Meanwhile, the ERP can provide additional information on the characteristics of the goods (e.g., expiration date) that should be included in the advance shipping notice. The proper combination of the two software programs ensures that the advance shipping notice system runs smoothly.

Advance shipping notice: how do you generate and receive it?

An advance shipping notice is an electronic document that can be generated and sent automatically by both the WMS and ERP system.

In the receiving facility, a sophisticated warehouse management system, such as Easy WMS from Mecalux, captures that information and designates a receiving buffer, recording the products that will enter the warehouse prior to the physical receipt of these goods. Additionally, the WMS lets you create and print the labels with the data for each item slated to arrive, which the operators will then place on each package when processing the receipt.

This is the logistics operation performed, for example, by medical device multinational Intersurgical in its new warehouse in Wokingham, UK. This facility operates by means of advance shipping notice: the ERP system receives the ASN from the supplier’s software program and sends it to Easy WMS to generate and print a label for each product. Once the pertinent checks are made, the operators will affix each label to its corresponding package.

A similar operation takes place at the new Ixos cealco warehouse in Granollers, Spain. As the company works with suppliers from over 50 countries, the logistics management team chose advance shipping notice as the solution to boost efficiency in goods receipts. Nowadays, Ixos cealco’s ERP system informs Easy WMS of the receipts in advance, making it easier for operators to check them.

Advance shipping notice: agility for Logistics 4.0

Syncing the transmission of data between the sender and receiver of the goods guarantees companies greater efficiency in their logistics processes. Advance shipping notice ensures that the operators that receive the goods can foresee what orders they will receive and when. This makes it possible to prepare the loading docks and set up areas in the warehouse so that everything is ready at the right time.

Likewise, this system improves product traceability for both the sender and receiver: it’s possible to know, at all times, when the shipment is expected and which logistics facility is scheduled to receive it.

If you’re interested in enhancing your logistics operations through digital solutions, don't hesitate to contact Mecalux. Easy WMS software will maximise your productivity, eliminating errors in all logistics stages in the warehouse.

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