The EDIFACT DELFOR T-Set: Structure, Benefits & Use Cases

The Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) market is only set to grow this year (and beyond.) While the global EDI market is expected to hit $2.29 billion in 2024 alone, it’s further projected to grow to a whopping $3.53 billion in 2028.1

However, it’s not an easy landscape to navigate without support. As businesses of various sizes continue to use EDI to communicate and strategise with their partners, it’s critical to rely on trusted EDI experts and solution providers to keep their processes seamless. And a massive role to play in that journey is to understand the scope of various EDI standards available.

Here, we will expand on our resources around the commonly used EDIFACT standard by covering the EDIFACT DELFOR transaction set (T-Set.) Keep reading to find out what this message involves, its benefits, and how you can realise them in your business. 

Suggested reading: Get ahead of the basics with our guide on EDIFACT Standards Explained.

What is EDIFACT DELFOR?

EDIFACT DELFOR is a specialised transaction set used within the EDIFACT standard. It primarily serves as a mechanism for suppliers to send delivery forecasts or schedules to buyers. 

DELFOR is indispensable in sectors like manufacturing, retail, and logistics, where predicting the timing and volume of deliveries is crucial for operational harmony.

The benefits of using EDIFACT DELFOR

While DELFOR can be applied to multiple industries that prioritise timely and efficient deliveries, the benefits it provides go even further:

  • Forecasting accuracy: DELFOR improves the precision of delivery forecasts, enabling companies to plan their supply chain activities more effectively.
  • Improved supplier-buyer relationships: By facilitating clear and consistent communication, DELFOR strengthens the collaboration between suppliers and buyers.
  • Efficiency in inventory management: Accurate forecasts lead to better inventory control, helping to avoid situations of overstocking or stockouts.

With the above in mind, there are a host of ideal outcomes that it can help a variety of different businesses achieve (when implemented correctly.) Those being:

  • Production planning: Manufacturers rely on DELFOR to align their production schedules with anticipated delivery timings, ensuring smooth operations.
  • Inventory replenishment: Retailers use DELFOR for timely and efficient inventory replenishment, maintaining optimal stock levels to meet consumer demand.
  • Logistics and warehouse management: In logistics, DELFOR aids in efficient utilisation of warehouse space and resources, streamlining the overall supply chain process.

Pro tip: Build your knowledge of the EDIFACT standard with our guide to the EDIFACT DESADV message.

What does an EDIFACT DELFOR message include?

The DELFOR message has multiple segments that each fulfil a specific purpose. So, a typical DELFOR message would look something like this:

UNH+1+DELFOR:D:96A:UN’
BGM+351+0000000123+9′
DTM+137:20240101:102′
RFF+ON:123456′
FTX+AAI+++Special handling needed’
NAD+BY+++CompanyName’
LIN+1++123456:IN’
DTM+2:20240110:102′
PIA+1+654321:SA’
QTY+21:1000′
MOA+203:1500′
FTX+LIN+++Extra packaging’
UNS+S’
UNT+13+1′

And here’s what each segment represents, based on the above example:

SegmentExampleDescription
UNH (Message Header)UNH+1+DELFOR:D:96A:UN’Starts the DELFOR message. ‘1’ is a reference number for the message, and ‘DELFOR:D:96A:UN’ specifies the type of message and the version/directory number.
BGM (Beginning of Message)BGM+351+0000000123+9′Indicates the beginning of the message. ‘351’ is the message type code for a delivery forecast, ‘0000000123’ is the document/message number, and ‘9’ is a message function code.
DTM (Date/Time/Period)DTM+137:20240101:102′Specifies the date/time details. ‘137’ indicates the type of date/time (e.g., document/message date), ‘20240101’ is the date in YYYYMMDD format, and ‘102’ is the format qualifier for the date.
RFF (Reference)RFF+ON:123456′Provides a reference number. ‘ON’ indicates the type of reference (e.g., Order Number), and ‘123456’ is the actual reference number.
FTX (Free Text)FTX+AAI+++Special handling needed’Free text for additional information. ‘AAI’ is a qualifier for the type of information, followed by the text ‘Special handling needed’.
NAD (Name and Address)NAD+BY+++CompanyName’Specifies the name and address of a party. ‘BY’ is a party qualifier (e.g., buyer), followed by the name ‘CompanyName’.
LIN (Line Item)LIN+1++123456:IN’Identifies a line item. ‘1’ is the line item number, and ‘123456:IN’ provides the item number and its identifier.
DTM (Date/Time/Period)DTM+2:20240110:102′Date/time details for the line item. ‘2’ could indicate a delivery or period date, ‘20240110’ is the date, and ‘102’ is the format.
PIA (Additional Product ID)PIA+1+654321:SA’Additional product identification. ‘1’ is a qualifier, ‘654321’ is the product number, and ‘SA’ is an identifier code.
QTY (Quantity)QTY+21:1000′Indicates quantity. ’21’ is a qualifier (e.g., ordered quantity), and ‘1000’ is the quantity.
MOA (Monetary Amount)MOA+203:1500′Relates to monetary amounts. ‘203’ is a qualifier (e.g., line item amount), and ‘1500’ is the amount.
FTX (Free Text)FTX+LIN+++Extra packaging’Additional free text, specifically for the line item. ‘LIN’ indicates the text relates to a line item, followed by ‘Extra packaging’.
UNS (Section Control)UNS+S’A segment to mark the start of the summary section. ‘S’ is a section identifier.
UNT (Message Trailer)UNT+13+1′Concludes the DELFOR message. ’13’ is the number of segments included in the message, and ‘1’ is the same reference number as in the UNH segment.

The equivalents of EDIFACT DELFOR in other EDI formats

EDIFACT is just one of the many EDI standards you and your partners will be working with. So it’s important to have an overview of the equivalents of the EDIFACT DELFOR message in other commonly used formats:

EDI StandardEquivalent of EDIFACT DELFOR T-SetDescription
EDIFACTDELFORUsed for delivery forecasts or schedules from suppliers to buyers.
ANSI X12830 (Planning Schedule with Release Capability)Similar to DELFOR, used for communicating delivery schedules and quantities.
TRADACOMSDELFORSimilar to EDIFACT, TRADACOMS uses the same terminology for delivery forecast messages.
GS1 EANCOMDELFORA subset of EDIFACT, GS1 EANCOM also uses DELFOR for delivery forecasts, typically in the retail sector.
ODETTEDELFOROften used in the automotive industry, ODETTE’s DELFOR serves a similar purpose to EDIFACT’s DELFOR.
SAP IDocDELINS (Delivery Schedule)SAP’s format for exchange of delivery schedules, equivalent to DELFOR in EDIFACT.
Peppol BISCatalogue (Peppol BIS 28)While not a direct equivalent, it is used for similar purposes in public procurement contexts.
UBL (Universal Business Language)Order Response (Forecast)A similar concept for delivery forecasts, though UBL’s framework is more flexible and XML-based.

Pro tip: Discover more from our EDIFACT standard resources with our explainer on EDIFACT INVOIC.

How the EDIFACT DELFOR message is processed

There are a number of steps to keep in mind when processing a DELFOR message:

  1. Generating the DELFOR message

Origin: The DELFOR message is typically generated by the buyer’s ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system. It’s based on the buyer’s inventory levels, production schedules, and demand forecasts.

Content creation: The ERP system compiles data such as quantities needed, delivery dates, and specific item information into the DELFOR format, adhering to the standardised EDIFACT syntax.

  1. Transmission of the DELFOR message

EDI transmission: The DELFOR message is sent via an EDI network. This can be done directly between trading partners or through an EDI service provider.

Security and compliance: The transmission process ensures data security and compliance with industry standards, ensuring that the information remains confidential and intact.

  1. Receiving and interpreting the DELFOR message

Reception: The supplier’s EDI system receives the DELFOR message. It’s crucial that the system is compatible and can accurately interpret EDIFACT messages.

Decoding: The EDI system decodes the message, translating the standardised EDIFACT segments and codes into a format understandable by the supplier’s ERP system.

  1. Integrating with the supplier’s systems

ERP update: The information from the DELFOR message is fed into the supplier’s ERP system. This update triggers various internal processes, such as adjusting production schedules, updating inventory levels, and planning logistics.

Confirmation and feedback: In some cases, the supplier might generate a response message, such as an EDIFACT ORDRSP (Order Response) message, to confirm receipt and understanding of the forecast, or to communicate any issues or discrepancies.

  1. Action and fulfilment 

Operational planning: The supplier uses the information from the DELFOR message to plan production, allocate resources, and schedule deliveries.

Continuous monitoring: Both the supplier and buyer may continue to monitor and update forecasts as needed, exchanging updated DELFOR messages to reflect any changes in demand or supply conditions.

  1. Auditing and analysis

Record-keeping: All DELFOR messages and responses are archived for record-keeping, compliance, and future reference.

Performance analysis: Data from these messages can be analysed for insights into supplier performance, forecasting accuracy, and to identify areas for improvement in the supply chain process.

Rely on Data Interchange for your EDI needs

Having comprehensive knowledge over various EDI standards (including EDIFACT) is a great place to start upgrading how your business addresses EDI. 

But ensuring that you’re using EDI to its full potential and gaining the in-house expertise to see it through is easier said than done. This is where relying on an expert EDI solutions and support provider like Data Interchange proves useful.

We offer a variety of EDI software solutions that can be implemented into your business with ease and satisfy your needs, from order processing to EDI mapping. Our leading support guarantees that you’ll always have an expert available to hear your queries or concerns.

Get in touch to talk to one of our experts and find out how we can help your business today!

1 Global Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) Software Market by End-users, Product, and Geography — Global Forecast 2024–2033 | by Narendratbrc

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