Medical Products Manufacturer Adapts to B2B Document Exchange

A mid-sized manufacturer of surgical and medical products needed to adapt to the emerging B2B document exchange requirements of Cardinal Health and other distributors. Process automation was needed to fill customer orders immediately and meet their requirement for better service in the healthcare industry.

For several years our customer knew that using WebForms supplied by their customer were the source of many errors. These occurred when the Sales Order information such as the UPC/part number were read from the WebForms and then entered in their business application (Infor ERP VISUAL).


Several challenges arose, including the non-technical need to set a part-number conversion (their number to GTIN number). Additionally, the ship-to locations needed to be reset as only location numbers (GLN) are sent (A hospital has several ship-to locations at the same address, e.g. 6th floor orthopedic surgical suite store room).

It also became necessary for a DCS EDI Specialist to re-map their Altova Mapforce system “from scratch” in order to ensure the new mapping would be in a “clean” state within the new installation resulting in a successful EDI process.


By automating their process, DCS provided three main savings:

  1. Margin Improvement – much more time is available for scrutinizing orders.  Price and revised quantities are spotted.
  2. Cost Reduction – a customer service person was re-assigned to material management duties.
  3. Cost Reduction – the old EDI network per document, per customer, and per month fees were eliminated with direct connections.

The EDI documents exchanged are:

  • Inbound Customer Sales Order (EDI X12 Transaction Set 850)
  • Outbound P.O. Acknowledgement (Confirmation, 855)
  • Inbound P.O. Change (860)
  • Outbound Shipment Notice (ASN, 856)
  • Outbound Invoice (810)
  • Inbound Remittance Advice (820, not integrated)
  • Inbound Payment Approve Advice (824, not integrated)

*Please note that some are not integrated due to complexity.

For example, the customer’s Inbound Customer Purchase Orders now immediately appears within minutes of being sent by Cardinal Health as Sales Orders await customer service approval or correction.  As with all automation, the cost of the second and subsequent customers was minimal. The customer is not fully equip to meet the requirements of their customers while maintaining a success EDI environment.

Have you used an EDI data analysis tool?  How did you learn of the business rules that are unique for each customer (such as packing and shipping requirements that are different for part numbers)?  Did you convert to a new business application recently?  How was B2B document exchange affected?