We’re all looking for ways to reduce our efforts even in the most menial day to day tasks we undertake. From setting up light sensors at home to negate the necessity of manually controlling the lights and voice assistants like Alexa which perform our bidding at the use of a few selective words, why exert ourselves when we’ve got technology at our disposal?
Think of how convenient it would be if your company is able to cut down on the count of repetitive, humdrum, and routine tasks that are carried out by their staff daily, every week? These are the very tasks that often delay sales, defer deliveries, exasperate customers, and are at times even carried out inaccurately. Imagine the time, efforts, and exertion this will save and the increased efficiency it will inculcate!!
When it comes to the manufacturing sector, in particular, the companies belonging to this sector were some of the initial adopters of automation, executing robots and processing lines for carrying out the everyday production operations in the plant.
Speaking of the manufacturing sector, you can also sneak a peek at our blog on IoT in manufacturing.
With the aim of accomplishing automated efficiency in segments beyond the production line, the sector has started employing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) as an attempt to enhance the back-office operations.
What is RPA?
Robotic Process Automation, or RPA as it is called, is a software that is combined with business operations for automating certain activities, reducing human errors as well as enhancing productivity.
Analysts at Gartner have predicted that 85% of large organizations will have deployed some form of RPA by 2022, and it wouldn't be long before RPA gets employed regularly in smaller and mid-sized firms, as well.
RPA in Manufacturing
“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” - Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens
Automation of manufacturing has led to various latest innovations in factories in many sectors. As a result, the manufacturing sector is getting to enjoy errorless and simplified procedures without needing to conclude full performance to enable the best productivity by employing RPA.
Inaccurate replication processes escalate the precarious productivity of manufacturing firms as well as the leaders of these companies, which is why they are embracing the Robotics Process Automation for enhancing their output and productivity.
Manufacturing companies have been altering their production unit from human resources to physical industry robots to carry out the operations of assembling their products, monitoring their quality as well as packaging them. While the robots are effectively aiding in repairing the assembly line, the companies still face hurdles in handling operational procedures as well as back-office operations. This is where RPA steps in and with its aid companies are automating manufacturing for reducing the work of human resources and chances of errors and for enhancing productivity.
RPA is also relevant for smooth operations in the midst of crisis scenarios, for instance, the COVID19 pandemic. With employees working remotely and having to send their emails and phone communications through their homes, the adoption of RPA’s algorithms ensures that the processes ensue as flawlessly as they can with a minimum number of workers at the disposal.
An effective example of RPA in Manufacturing is the collaboration between General Electric (GE) and UiPath. The main aim of the multinational conglomerate was to escalate automation across the entire company aiming at unlocking its full advantages and boosting productivity.
Benefits of using RPA in manufacturing
Benefits of implementing RPA in manufacturing operations
1. Cost savings
Companies can enhance productivity with the 24/7 operating ability of RPA bots that subsequently enhances the total savings. (Speaking of bots, how about taking a glance at our blog on Machine Learning Chatbots?)
RPA also cuts down on the expense of manual labor needed for performing the humdrum and to perform mundane and repetitive functions.
Robotic process automation typically results in up to 20% cost saving. – Capgemini
2. Reduced wastage and mistakes
The RPA bots can fix manufacturing hurdles such as manual lapses as well as inventory wastage by automating scheduling. The rule-based execution of RPA systems reduces any manifestation of errors. Subsequently, wastage is reduced significantly too.
3. Increased focus and efficiency
As I’ve already mentioned above, RPA aids the manufacturers in maximizing efficiency by cutting down on errors. While RPA manages administrative functions, the workforce can focus on operations of greater importance.
4. Enhanced back-office operations
By executing RPA, manufacturers can oust their traditional systems which have more chances of errors with more dependable digital ones.
Use Cases of RPA in the Manufacturing Industry
The biggest revolution whose impact must be incorporated is the shift from physical to software robots. In reference to this, I will now discuss some of the real-world cases where RPA is being employed in the Manufacturing industry.
Bill of Materials (BOM)
BOM is a central document in the manufacturing industry. The document consists of a comprehensive record of materials as well as components that are required for creating a new item or product. The main aim of the document is to provide employees with all the data they require regarding their journey towards the advancement of new products, that is information focusing on what, when, where, as well as how to buy.
Any mistakes committed at any of these stages can create an adverse chain impact on the remaining production cycle resulting in a huge loss for the company. As a result, RPA, equipped with its ability to conduct quasi error-proof task function becomes a crucial requirement as it is programmed for precise and timely process completion.
Customer Support and Service Desk
Customer experience is one of the crucial aspects of the success of any business. RPA can come in handy for the front office when it comes to enhancement in interactions with the customer. It can be employed to update the company if its employees are keeping pace with customers if the contact schedule is being maintained and to keep stay updated in case any customer has forwarded a complaint.
(Now that I mentioned customer experience, you can also sneak a peek at how Disney is enhancing its customer experience!)
When the work is carried out manually the employee is required to navigate through a number of systems to get back to a single customer for accessing multiple information via multiple systems. When RPA is employed, we can reach multiple stored information at a single location which allows the company to aid its customers better.
Use Cases of RPA in the Manufacturing Industry
Administration and reporting
Manufacturing companies face plenty of issues when it comes to processing that can result in a considerable overload upon the administration departments. This is where RPA serves as the magic wand for dealing with effectively managing administration.
All required reports for providing a clear and effective portrait of production can be developed precisely and timely through the aid of bots. This will also prompt enhanced decision making over the business processes to be adopted for the accomplishment of the firm’s desired outcomes.
In any manufacturing industry, regular and effective upgrades are a must for it to thrive. For ensuring the consistency of business procedures as well as persistent incorporation of novel procurement in the production cycle, shifting data from old to latest systems is a significant task associated with the manufacturing industry which is set to develop.
There’s a lot of possibility of errors in the case of manual performances which could prove to be immense and costly, with the systems being innately interconnected, the possibility of compound errors increases. Robotic process automation meanwhile can accelerate the performance and reduce the possibility of error, thus providing more productive results.
The invoice processing procedure calls for interaction between various people who need to execute a number of inspecting and approving procedures of the invoices that exist in several formats as well as languages. The coordinated efforts hold possibilities of error as usual which is increased by the monotony of the task, which can weaken the focus of the employee.
For example, if Employee X clicks on Column A instead of column B, this might create a domino effect, reaching deep into the manual invoice processing network, and result in difficulty to track adverse consequences. Meanwhile, software robots can skim through the forms promptly, input the data into the system at the appropriate place, and send out the amended documents to the essential department for authorization.
The inventory process is one back-office procedure that can get very labor-intensive when executed manually. The variations in aspects like the supplier delivery as well as the demand of consumers can result in a dearth of predictability that muddles the process completion much more leading to faulty inventory turnover, as well as complications being faced while reaching the varying demand.
Employing bots for automating emails, acquisition processes, digitization of paperwork, as well as for monitoring inventory levels and consumer demand, identifying and enhancing deficiencies becomes a far more preferable alternative. The bots offer improved operational efficiency, considerable cost reductions, or enhanced interaction with both suppliers and consumers.
Automation platforms like UiPath authorize the security of dealing with sensitive company information and also the data of consumers and suppliers, as no process-related information is saved. The actions of the bots are entirely transparent, and also accessible for analysis in a central log. Subsequently, the data required for audits can be collected in minimal time.
The employment of RPA in manufacturing also leads to smooth process updates, that makes it more simple to note the recurrent alterations in the compliance regulations.
It is definitely the appropriate time for manufacturing domains to integrate the next wave of automation beyond their core processes and in non-core segments with RPA and enjoy a reduction in their expenses as well as a productivity enhancement. It will certainly be an advantage for manufacturing enterprises that wish to unlock their full potential in aspects like management, productivity, and administration, to consider the prospect of executing RPA solutions in their operating areas.