- Enormous volumes of EDI messages to manage, process, and store
- Integration of new formats and applications
- Solution stability and security for continuous high message volumes
- Transparent infrastructure that is easy to maintain and enhance
- Automated reports and dashboards
- Full traceability of messages
- Auditable information integrity
“Axway’s solution is the foundation of our business. We cannot afford to miss a single message. Axway’s system enables us to offer full traceability across our complex EDI infrastructure.”
Full Traceability and Quality of Service for Millions of International Postal Deliveries
International Post Corporation (IPC) is an association of 24 postal operators in Asia-Pacific, Europe and North America. It was founded in 1989. IPC provides its members with systems and programs to ensure that international mail is delivered efficiently and competitively. IPC is recognized by its members as a natural partner and industry organization for improving service quality, promoting cooperation and interoperability, and providing informed analysis on the postal and adjacent markets. IPC’s members handle 80 percent of all the international mail delivered in the world.
IPC uses Axway’s Synchrony Integrator to manage over 120,000 electronic data interchange (EDI) messages daily. Axway’s solution enables IPC to monitor the postal service quality, ensure traceability, and measure performance against targets. “Our objective is to provide postal organizations with tools that enable them to monitor and upgrade the quality of their services. This expertise is not only to our members but extends to posts that are not IPC members as well. Well over 100 postal services worldwide are being monitored for performance standards,” said Johan Van den bergh, Head of Systems Technology, IPC.
“Axway’s platform enables us to process an enormous volume of EDI information. The information is received, translated, verified and integrated into our database,” added Lionel Gilmont, Responsible for EDI Infrastructure, IPC.
International mail items such as parcels and registered letters are bar-coded. When an item is ready to be shipped, the local postal organization scans the item, and a pre-advice EDI message is automatically sent to the receiving postal organization. Once the item is received by the postal organization at the destination, it is scanned again and an EDI message is automatically sent. A parcel can be scanned several times as it makes its way through the postal pipeline to the final delivery. It may be scanned as it comes into customs, as it leaves customs, and again when it is delivered to its recipient.
With each of these scans, an EDI message is produced, and information about the parcel is constantly updated. IPC receives a copy of each and every EDI message for centralized tracking and tracing. “Axway’s solution is the foundation of our business. We cannot afford to miss a single message. Axway’s system enables us to offer full traceability in our complex EDI infrastructure so that we can report back to our members should any anomalies arise,” stated Van den bergh.
When a postal organization has a problem with a parcel, IPC must locate the messages relating to the parcel. IPC has an auditable system that enables it to report that the message has been received at a specific time. This factor is critical because it can impact monetary compensation among the postal organizations.
“Axway’s Sentinel is not only crucial for tracing and tracking, but also for validating the messages and automatically flagging anomalies. Sentinel provides the dash-boarding and alerting functions that are inherent to the value of our organization.”
Monitoring, Setting Standards and Offering New Services
Another important role IPC plays is in assessing adherence to international postal standards for EDI messages. With such high volumes, it is important that messages are in the correct format, and that the contents are always correct.
All the information that Integrator receives is sent to Axway’s Sentinel. Sentinel stores all the data in a central EDI repository to manage updates, provide reports and dashboards, and monitor the system.
“We use the information coming from Axway’s tools to inform the postal operators when there are flaws in their messages,” said Van den bergh. “We also inform them whether their messages are delayed. If there is a problem with the messages or with their syntax, we need to communicate the problem. Axway’s Sentinel is not only crucial for tracing and tracking, but also for validating the messages and automatically flagging anomalies. Sentinel provides the dash-boarding and alerting functions that are inherent to the value of our organization.”
Van den bergh added, “By raising the standards and by putting an infrastructure in place where tasks are handled automatically, we ensure that EDI service between postal operators is monitored continuously. This is essential to our members.”
Many services are built on top of Axway’s system. IPC is currently implementing the Synchrony Gateway. “Some of our partners would like to exchange information with IPC using AS2 and file transfer protocol (FTP). The Synchrony Gateway will provide a common interface to the outside world to exchange information in a secure way,” said Gilmont.
“Axway’s technical support and consulting services are extremely important to us as we have small teams and we need a partner we can rely on to assist us. We rely on Axway as an extension of our own teams. In this way, we can respond to new needs in a timely manner without having to expand the team.”
Excellent Technical Support and Service
IPC relies on Axway for quality support and services. Rather than increasing the size of the team to integrate new standards and formats, it calls on Axway to assist and thus liberate their precious resources for specific dedicated tasks. “Axway’s technical support and consulting services are extremely important to us as we have small teams and we need a partner we can rely on to assist us. We rely on Axway as an extension of our own teams. In this way, we can respond to new needs in a timely manner without having to expand the team,” said Van den bergh.
Axway’s technical support team fully tests applications on its own configuration before they are implemented on IPC’s configuration. “Axway has a lab at its premises with a replica of our environment. Instead of logging onto our systems, they test new releases and applications on this identical environment before rolling them out. This way there are no surprises and the integration to our systems is seamless and quick,” added Van den bergh.
24/7 Availability and Stability as Volumes Increase
One of the issues IPC has had to deal with is the increase in the quantity of EDI messages received. The number has doubled in the last two years.
During peak periods, IPC receives 150,000 messages per day and the volumes are growing as new players are added. Volumes will continue to increase as IPC has begun to work with several major airlines to integrate their EDI messages exchanged with the posts into the system.
Airlines can benefit from the system to handle capacity issues, predict mail volumes, and improve visibility of mail in transport. These services will enable air mail services to be more efficient and cost-effective. In effect, electronic proof of acceptance and delivery provide reliable data for electronic accounting. Another one of the ultimate targets is for mail transport by air to become a completely paperless process by the end of the decade.