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EDI Academy – the OFTP protocol

10/08/2016

Communication protocols are a key aspect in any EDI relationship. As we explained in this post, different systems for transmitting information between trading partners have arisen over time. One of these is the Odette File Transfer Protocol, better known by its acronym OFTP.

 

How did this standard come about?

The OFTP communications protocol is linked with the automotive sector. This industry was one of the pioneers in the rollout of EDI technology during the 70s in the United States. This is because automobile companies were not only growing, but were also obliged to exchange large amounts of information constantly so that their supply chain could function properly.

With the passing of time, this need to share data with a plethora of manufacturers and suppliers remained steady, and even began to increase. We must bear in mind that suppliers in the automotive industry forming part of a production chain may be widely dispersed. However, it is very important that all members work as a team to meet the high quality standards demanded by the Just in Time management model that holds sway in this sector, and which calls for permanent and fluid exchange of massive data volumes and large files.

In the 80s, these particular features led Odette, the automotive industry association par excellence in Europe, to work on a specialized communications protocol able to adapt to the specific features of these companies. This is how, in 1986, what we know today as OFTP came into being.

Soon, the standard spread throughout the European automotive industry and today remains the most widely used in this region. In addition, some companies in other industries such as pharmaceuticals and banking also use it, albeit more anecdotally.

 

OFTP upgrade

Technology breakthroughs and the current needs of the automotive business prompted Odette to launch another version of the protocol in 2010, designated OFTP2. The EDICOM team actively participates in the working group, which continues to explore improvements. Our role is to propose new technical updates and enhance security.

Among the advantages of this communications protocol we can highlight its adaptation to the automotive industry. The standard allows users to encrypt and compress files so that it is possible to share not only EDI messages but also CAD files and other large-volume documents widely used in the sector.

Upgrading the OFTP2 protocol provided greater flexibility and robustness to the communication system between trading partners, providing benefits such as:

  • Higher data compression capacity.
  • Assuring reliability and management of secure communication via Internet among trading partners (SSL / TLS, identification, e-signature, encryption, etc.)
  • Handling very large files (> 500 GB)
  • Longer length file descriptions.

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