Seaway uses intelligent automation to gain real-time visibility and streamline AP invoicing
Seaway is one of the largest diversified transport and logistics providers in Australia. Founded in 1999, the company has grown significantly both organically and through acquisitions. In addition to their worldwide network, the company now has offices in New Zealand and China, over 60,000 square metres of warehousing in Australia, and transports more than 30 million kilograms of air freight and 128,000 twenty-foot equivalent containers per year.
To maintain its impressive growth trajectory, Seaway is putting an increased focus on the efficiency and scalability of its internal processes. The company’s business improvement team identified accounts payable (AP) invoicing as a top priority for process optimisation.
In particular, visibility was a problem. Inputting invoices into the company’s CargoWise system was a laborious process, which meant that operators often preferred to do it in batches at the end of each month. As a result, the finance team lacked real-time insight into the current invoicing position, which made financial management difficult.
Seaway had experimented with outsourcing AP invoice processing to a third-party organisation, but found that the costs were prohibitive. The company next tried an optical character recognition (OCR)-based invoice capture solution, but it proved challenging to integrate with Seaway’s CargoWise logistics platform, and the project faltered. It was time for a rethink.
Seaway reached out to some WiseTech consultants for advice on finding an AP invoicing solution that would work seamlessly with CargoWise. This led to an introduction to Shipamax, which Seaway quickly included on its shortlist of possible vendors. Following a detailed evaluation process, Shipamax came out ahead of the competition and Seaway signed up for an initial 12-month contract.
Shipamax’s AI-based approach was much more impressive than our previous OCR system, and they already had a proven integration with CargoWise, which was a huge selling-point for us.Adrian Green, Head of Business Improvement, Seaway Logistics
Unlike traditional OCR-based solutions for invoice automation, Shipamax does not require users to create and manage invoice templates for data extraction; instead, the solution uses proprietary community-powered artificial intelligence technology to “learn” how to read the relevant data from each supplier’s invoice.
As a result, the Shipamax AI becomes more effective and accurate over time. High accuracy data extraction, combined with Shipamax's intelligent automation app for reconciliation has enabled a rapid increase in straight-through processing (STP) rates. In Seaway’s case, the STP rate increased tenfold over the first 12 weeks, and today an average of 50% of its AP invoices are read and reconciled entirely without human intervention.
One of our teams is already seeing 60% STP, and there’s plenty of potential for further improvements. As an operator, if you set up your jobs correctly in CargoWise, it just works—invoices from all your regular suppliers go straight through.Adrian Green, Head of Business Improvement, Seaway Logistics
Today, if an invoice comes in that can’t be processed without additional information, Shipamax routes it directly to the relevant operator. Thanks to seamless integration with CargoWise, it’s a quick and simple process to check and post the invoice.
The finance team also benefits from the integration, which provides much greater transparency and helps to reduce the risk of errors. In fact, a month-on-month comparison has shown that the number of invoices that need to be reversed due to errors has fallen by more than 90% since the introduction of Shipamax.
Real-time two-way communication between Shipamax and CargoWise means our finance team now has instant visibility of outstanding invoices, not just occasional static reports.Paul Hennessy, Head of Finance, Seaway Logistics
Seaway sees Shipamax as a valued partner, and plays an active role in the ongoing development of the AP invoicing solution. As part of the Shipamax Next Generation community, the company gets early access to new features, and helps to shape the solution's roadmap through hands-on feedback.
For example, Seaway has recently worked with Shipamax to design and test a range of features that all Shipamax clients can now benefit from. These features include supporting invoices with line items in multiple currencies, enabling operators to adjust exchange rates when posting invoices without having to log into CargoWise, and streamlining the flow of creditor information into Shipamax from a single daily import to real-time updates.
The Seaway team also helped Shipamax with the implementation of its tolerances feature, which is a major time-saver for finance teams. In the past, if an operator posted an invoice containing an amount that was a few cents different from the amount in the accrual, the finance team would have to account for those odd cents by manually adjusting the accrual in CargoWise. With the tolerances feature, as long as the difference is within an acceptable threshold, Shipamax can post the invoice and perform the required cleanup in CargoWise automatically.
The Shipamax team have been very responsive to feedback. Since we started working together, they’ve released several new features that have really helped us move forward.Adrian Green, Head of Business Improvement, Seaway Logistics
With the Shipamax solution in place, Seaway has been able to eliminate the costs of outsourcing AP invoice processing and save significant amounts of time for both its operators and its finance team—putting the company in a stronger position to scale up its processes as it integrates new acquisitions into the business.
Using automation to increase efficiency is really important as the business continues to grow. With Shipamax, our operators and finance team can spend less time on paperwork and more time focusing on the parts of their job that really add value.Adrian Green, Head of Business Improvement, Seaway Logistics
If you're interested in learning more about automated document processing in logistics, read our latest guide on the topic, which includes the benefits of document automation software for shippers.
- Operations and Accounting
- Documents Supported:
- AP Invoices
- Business Size:
- 350 employees
- Technology Intergrations: