eBOLs: Fact, Fiction and Future

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services

Remember the not-so-good-old-days when most of our time was consumed by long paper trails and error-filled BOLs? They got damaged. They were late. They got lost. They were difficult to read and easy to misread. Not to mention, there was no efficient way to share the data.

The eBOL (Electronic Bills of Lading) is a welcomed evolution in the petroleum marketing world.

It’s crystal clear

As our industry became more complex, the need for greater, more sophisticated reporting grew. It is crystal clear that eBOLs are the preferred answer to tackle such inadequacies. Doing business electronically has become a critical point for refined fuel marketers, retailers and wholesalers alike. Electronic data not only increases efficiencies, it also ensures greater accuracy.

As the method was defined, eBOL refinement became the next focus. eBOLs have developed over the past several decades to accommodate changes in the petroleum sector and the specific needs of marketers, retailers and wholesalers. Some of the early challenges involved data-rich eBOLs and their inability to serve as a lasting, beneficial and useful tool to all parties involved. Each “round” prevailed with new features, as gaps were addressed.

 Accuracy is critical

In the United States, currently more than 300 petroleum marketers, including smaller organizations, are using eBOLs to automate their invoicing processes — and for good reason. The typical overhead cost to research and correct a single transaction error is $126. The consequence of forgoing eBOL systems can be costly.

Seamless integration

Digitizing the BOL isn’t a magic fix. For example, eBOLs arrive in hundreds of different formats and, depending on who you are doing business with, different information fields and naming conventions. This makes data integration with back office systems challenging.

To help resolve these issues, Schneider Electric leveraged its decades of knowledge and relationships across suppliers, terminals, and customers to find a better solution. Through this effort, we created a platform that works regardless of format or complicated PIDX and SPLC codes, in order to provide a repository for industry eBOL data.

Through the repository, we provide customers with the eBOL data they need, customized to how they need it, as fast as it can be delivered and without duplicates. The data can then be easily integrated into a customer’s accounting system, removing the need to deal with multiple formats and data-jargon.

The capabilities are endless: accessing mailboxes, cross referencing, processing errors, overriding rules and “human-readable” documents that are self-explanatory and all-inclusive.

A better way of business

eBOLs aren’t going anywhere; they’ll only get better. Adoption of the new protocols can help enrich eBOL data and its use in the U.S. market. By doing business electronically, refined fuels marketers, retailers, and wholesalers can all realize the benefits of increased efficiencies and greater accuracy. eBOL data can also help reduce costly errors and re-bills, enhance your level of customer service, and support more profitable operations—making eBOLs a better way of business.

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