Communicating Data Between Trading Partners
Electronic data is interchanged directly (point-to-point between companies) or indirectly via a Value Added Network (VAN). Transentric is able to help establish direct connection to Union Pacific and other trading partners for most EDI transactions. Direct communication requires that both partners have compatible communications protocols (line speeds, baud rates, etc.), standards and transmission times. The use of VANs is far more common. A VAN operates like a post office. It receives transmissions from senders, sorts these transmissions according to the intended receiver, and delivers the mail to another VAN or to the receiver's electronic mailbox.
The VAN addresses communication protocol issues and transmission times. In addition, the VAN can provide translation, installation and training. Most VANs charge an initial start-up fee, a monthly fee for mailbox use and variable fees for message transmission, based upon the number of characters or documents transmitted.
The actual routing of EDI messages is accomplished through the use of sender/receiver codes, which uniquely identify the companies involved and are exchanged early in the establishment of the trading partner relationship. These codes are used to create an electronic "envelope," similar to the postal address on a piece of mail. It is the envelope which controls the routing of the message, not the contents of the envelope.