Providing standards, tools and services
for the automotive supply chain

Publication: Automotive Supply Chain API for Transport T & T

30 Sept 2021

In the drive to further digitalisation of automotive supply chain processes, the use of APIs to complement traditional EDI messages is taking hold and the inbound transport process is a perfect candidate for the introduction of APIs to bridge the current digital gaps.

The tracking of shipments during the execution of multimodal transport is one of many supply-chain processes where more transparency is required.

Odette guidelines based on the standard EDIFACT IFTSTA message already exist to cover the exchange of transport status information between partners with an established business relationship, such as OEMs and suppliers with their usual transporters and with their regular providers of other logistics services.

Another solution is, however, needed to facilitate the exchange of data between supply chain actors who are not in an established relationship or who currently use web portals to carry out activities such as, ad-hoc ordering and confirmation of transport capacity and the tracking of deliveries made by 3rd party carriers.

REpresentational State Transfer (REST) Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) provide the perfect opportunity to fill the gaps and enhance existing messaging systems in a light and flexible way.

Experience shows that widespread acceptance and deployment of any new concept depends on standards being available, so Odette and its National Associations started a multi-national initiative to develop standardised APIs for the inbound transport process, involving experts from OEMs, Tier suppliers, LSPs and API Technology Providers.

Andrea Suemer from Volkswagen, Chair of the API initiative commented: “The publication of a recommendation to standardise the inbound transport process represents a major step to link up logistics environments that have become increasingly complex and fragmented and this is only the beginning. The industry has more plans for development of standardised APIs and we will certainly be looking to Odette and its National Associations for support to go further in bridging the digital gap.”

The APIs specified in “Automotive Supply Chain API for Transport Track & Trace2 (OA02) support immediate capacity reservation in the transport ordering process but, more importantly, support almost ‘real-time’ track and trace visibility during the transport execution phase.

The Recommendation describes the data model and functionality for the use of REST API in transport processes as an extension to existing EDI data exchange processes describes how to define and implement standardised REST-API interfaces for collaboration within the automotive industry and between the automotive industry and its logistics partners.

We expect an increasing number of supply chain processes to be supported by APIs so, in order to achieve consistency of design and use the Odette “Technical Principles for the Use of APIs in Automotive Supply Processes” (OA01) have also been published.

In order to support an agile development and implementation process, the technical artefacts have been published on GitHub (*) and SwaggerHub (**)

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(*) Internet hosting for software development and version control using Git. It offers the distributed version control and source code management functionality.

(**) Online tool for the dynamic development of APIs.