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Tetley updates EDI to meet Asda standard

Christian Annesley

Tea bag manufacturer Tetley has updated its Electronic Data Interchange facility to meet the AS2 communications standard being demanded by Asda and its US parent company Wal-Mart.

The project has also helped the firm meet HM Revenue and Customs' deadlines for online filing of tax data.

Asda's move to AS2 dictated the timing of Tetley's re-evaluation of its EDI platform, said Jo Puri, IT consultant at Tetley.

The company is using Seeburger's B2B Integration Server to link into its SAP R/3 enterprise resource planning systems.

Migration from Tetley's Gentran EDI system to Seeburger is almost complete, leaving the way clear for the older system to be switched off next month.

Paul Kay, group business systems manager at Tetley, said the deployment would allow Tetley to develop its relationships with suppliers.

"Historically, EDI was for customers, but there are key commercial benefits to improving systems on the supply side. We do not want our supply chain to be held up at any stage - there is little point being fast with our customers but not with our suppliers."

Tetley is already using electronic invoicing with key suppliers, and Kay said the firm also wanted to share business forecasting information with them.

He added that the business integration platform should broaden the firm's capabilities on three fronts. As well as presenting a strategic opportunity to improve the supply chain on the supplier side, it should also enable Tetley to link to the platforms of customers and improve internal processes.

"Because of the platform's tighter integration with SAP, we can transfer data in and out of the system far more easily, and automated business rules can be applied to enable greater automation of processes that previously required a lot of manual interventions, including checking of inbound orders and invoices," said Puri.

The ability to process data for tax compliance was an unexpected bonus, he added. "We were able to map relevant processes into electronic documents suitable for the Inland Revenue well within the deadline for online filing.

"The Inland Revenue adaptors required ad hoc daily, weekly, monthly and annual information based on payroll, which is not only complex but highly sensitive. The information has to be invisible through the process, yet must have a full audit trail so that information can be traced through every step," said Puri.


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