The global automotive industry has grown around a collection of regional B2B standards, primarily covering documents and communication protocols. The key automotive regions even had dedicated networks built to service the automotive companies within these locations. The regional networks; ANX in North America, ENX in Europe and JNX in Japan have been operating for many years, providing connectivity for both car manufacturers and their suppliers.  At GXS we support all the major regional standards and we also provide an interconnection between these regional network infrastructures. But, technology moves on and the internet has started to change the dynamics of how companies work with each other.

Over the last decade the automotive industry has globalised their operations into every major economy around the world and hence more and more trading partner related work is undertaken outside of a car manufacturer’s home market or region.  This has meant that automotive companies have had to build increased flexibility into their IT infrastructures to support operations in these new countries.  As these companies worked more globally, so there became a need to try and use common standards across the various regions.  This simplifies the trading partner on-boarding process and helps to remove complexity from an automotive manufacturer’s B2B infrastructure and associated supply chain.

The German automotive industry has been the most proactive in terms of globalising their car manufacturers and suppliers, with China being the key market to expand into. As these companies globalised their operations over the past decade they found that the traditional VDA message set was too restrictive in terms of supporting truly global logistics flows and hence why the German automotive industry is collaborating on a project to introduce a new Global EDIFACT Message set that will simplify global trade. In earlier blog entries I highlighted how OFTP2 is likely to become the global standard for B2B communications across the automotive industry and how the Global Transport Label was introduced to simplify the shipment of goods across country borders.  In a similar manner I believe that the new Global EDIFACT Messages are going to help simplify and standardise the cross-region exchange of business documents to support global production operations.

I first heard about the Global EDIFACT Message initiative in December 2012 when I attended the ODETTE conference in Berlin.  VW, BMW, Hella and Bosch jointly presented a session at the conference on how they were working together  and in partnership with VDA to offer support for the Global Message Set.  The new messages are based on the JAIF Global Message Guidelines for the Automotive industry, developed and published jointly by AIAG (USA), ODETTE (Europe) and JAMA/JAPIA (Japan).

Work on this initiative started a couple of years ago and the first three messages have been released and are starting to be implemented. VDA4938 is probably the most recognised of the new message formats as it relates to Global Invoicing, an initiative to remove paper based invoices from the supply chain and at the same time help introduce faster payments to suppliers. The key reasons for implementing these new messages are to:

  • Enable support for the current, complex processes while maintaining support for the legacy processes, where possible
  • Use future proof message formats
  • Enable global facilitation of VDA recommendations
  • Reduce effort for development, maintenance and support
  • Reduce complexity, increase stability and avoid errors

The messages that have been developed so far and those still under development are listed as follows:

Even though there is a VDA number associated with each message, this merely helps to identify as a VDA recommendation for implementing each Global Message and there is extensive documentation available from the VDA website to describe each message. The intention is that these messages will be used across both large and small companies and to support the latter group of companies, these messages will also be included within the auto-gration initiative being driven by ODETTE in Europe.  I will expand more on what auto-gration actually is in a future blog entry.

So in summary it is hoped that these new Global EDIFACT Messages will help to reduce the technical complexity of working with global trading partners and provide a platform to develop more standardised business processes to support manufacturing and logistics operations in any region around the world.

GXS already offers support for all key messages being used across the automotive industry today and we will be looking to offer support for these new messages as well. We will also look to establish a simple VDA to Global Message Migration Service to help companies make the switch to the new messages.  I will provide more information on this initiative at a later date.  In the meantime GXS plans to host a webinar on the Global Message Set, more of an educational event, to provide more detailed information on this particular project and provide the latest status updates for each message. I will publish further details of this webinar in the near future.

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