Robotic Process Automation has gone from being measured as brand new technology to a vital one in today’s market and supporting most of the scenarios and processes in various industries including manufacturing. Concisely, RPA significantly delivers greater optimization advantages to the manufactures to enhance their competitive benefits, accelerate work, and reduce costs. This blog presents how RPA solutions perform a key role in the manufacturing domain to automate their error-prone manual processes.
RPA in Manufacturing
Manufacturing enterprises are replacing the human resource in their production unit with physical industry robots to perform critical tasks like those that products assemble, quality checking, and packing. However, these robots support to patch the assembly line; the manufactures still struggle to handle its operational processes as well as back-office work. Now, they begin implementing RPA bots for manufacturing automation as it reduces the manual errors, minimizes the human resources, and enhances productivity. A report states that the RPA solutions in the back-end operation empower the enterprise to attain around 40 percent cost savings in their various process of work ranging from logistic data automation, ERP automation and product price comparisons. Undoubtedly, RPA tools and software can generate miracles in manufacturing domain once implemented and then the automation takes place in the end-to-end levels.
Reasons Why the Manufacturing Industry Requires RPA Bots
Manufacturing industries are experiencing continuous pressure to stay competitive in the global market and to achieve this; they must reduce costs while enhancing overall effectiveness like customer responsiveness, honing business, transparency for both regulatory & commercial reasons and business agility. Achieving these objectives not only depends on the core manufacturing activities but also on the proper supporting processes. Therefore, manufacturers should adopt new technologies like RPA to optimize the effectiveness and efficiency of their non-core actions, which influence gating constraints. Discovering additional productivity improvements and cost saving becomes more persuasive with the raising difficulty of finding skilled technical resources to support system enhancement and system maintenance. Here are some of the challenges that manufacturing industries facing today and how RPA solutions fix them:
- BoM (Bill of Materials) - BoM lists the items needed to manufacture the products including sub-assemblies, raw materials, sub-components, intermediate assemblies and many more. The manual process of BoM includes the chance of human errors that can cost the business a plenty of money, time, and effort.
RPA Solution: RPA bots can handle the Bill of Materials in real time, which ensures that the products will be manufactured without any defects and shipped on time.
- Compliance - Manufacturers who sell their products globally are confronting a time-consuming issue when it comes to handling compliance problems for each product and each country.
RPA Solutions - Implementations of RPA software can simplify this process. In addition to the assurance of accurate data processing in accordance with compliance requirements, RPA tools maintain a track of its updated activities at any given time.
- Communication - As similar to compliance, communication with existing clients and prospective clients is also a time-consuming process. Enterprises might face challenges in manipulating data when they are handling multiple factories and offices. A leading company might be managing multiple branches of offices and factories.
RPA solution: RPA bots can automate these processes, including name recognition, automatic email replies, chatbots, and language detection. In addition, with web-integrated RPA, the manufacturing enterprises can effortlessly monitor, access, as well as update the changes on their web-connected system. Therefore, a manufacturer can experience more rapid communication with RPA tools.
- Data Migration - At the time of migrating data from an old machine or on paper to a digital system, it was difficult as well as time-consuming to find, organize. and utilize data.
RPA Solution - Integration of RPA software can streamline the migration process from paper to a completely new digital system. RPA bots digitize the paper files and integrate them into the new system properly. Such kind of automation saves time and reduces human error as it avoids duplication or missing files.
- Customer Support & Service Desk - Customer service plays a vital role in the success of any business including manufacturing. Businesses should adopt advanced technologies to enhance the interaction with their customers. In addition, in the front office, the customer service representative has to navigate multiple screens while responding to a single customer, as it requires to access data from various systems.
RPA Solution - Deploying RPA platform allows the employees to access data stored on multiple systems at one place and then empowers them to serve better. In addition, it can also be used to put a reminder while the salesperson starts following with clients, upholds a contact schedule and so on. He/she can access multiple stored data in one place and this enables to serve the customers better.
Benefits of RPA in Manufacturing
Unlike the physical robots, RPA bots in manufacturing industries benefit in a number of ways. The robotic process automation implementation supports to strengthen the supply chain process and bridge the gaps with routine activities like quoting & invoicing suppliers, accounts receivable & payable, and general ledger operations. In addition, the RPA platform can enable the business to tailor billing, production objectives, minimizing mistakes and guiding employees over each stage of evolutions. Let us have a look at what RPA can do for the manufacturing industries:
- Cost Saving - Manufacturing domains should expect the cost-saving benefit of RPA platform implementation in the long term as it involves one-time costs for initial setup and making the system to function. Undoubtedly, in a long time, the business would save large chunks of amounts, including the costs required for manual labor and their insurance, maintenance, administration, healthcare, and upkeep. Furthermore, the manufacturer can be able to operate their system without any interruptions like a break or working hour restrictions.
- Manufacturing Agility - As RPA comes with lightweight software components, it is simple to set up and deploy without any assistance of broad IT resources. With the little system knowledge, even business operation executives can step up the system quickly, therefore, the process of manufacturing would become agile as well as responsive to the ever-changing market landscape.
- Extendable Manufacturing Functionalities - Faster processors and machine memory of RPA bots ensure the completion of dozens of tasks in a fraction of a time without any errors. This enables RPA system a versatile one that can be extended with any number of manufacturing functionalities.
- Customization - In addition to the manufacturing utilities, robotic process automation can also be deployed for other rules-based and routine activities. RPA can perform all those activities in parallel and faster than human resources can. For example, an RPA bot that was programmed to examine and classify inventory requisitions notes on a departmental basis can additionally be integrated with ERP to procure real-time inventory levels.
- Collaboration between Man and Bots - RPA can bring wonders to the manufacturing industry by combining machine memory with human intelligence. As it can collect data from machine sensors and broadcast them for real-time perceptions, it offers the digital intelligence to the decision makers. As a result, the decision makers can drive the assembly lines of manufacturing in a fine-tuned fashion. The final benefit would be minimal wastage, better inventory management, and a strong bottom line.
- Cut down Errors and Wastage - Inventory wastage and errors are the common difficulties that every manufacturer faces during their routine activities. There is a high demand for the quality assurance team when it comes to offer excellent quality and fulfill the industry standards. Moreover, it adds an additional layer of cost to the operation. However, the manual labors are prone to inconsistencies and its results in inventory wastage. RPA in manufacturing can chase away these two challenges in one shot. The rule-based RPA system ensures errors are reduced and as a result, wastage rates are declined.
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Robotic Process Automation Use case in Manufacturing
High time consuming and error prone operations like fetching and updating data from various applications like ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), third party regulatory portals, and independent system of vendors can be automated with RPA solutions. The following table shows the robotic process automation use case in manufacturing industries:
To understand the potential scope of robotic process automation in manufacturing, let us dig deep into three important business areas within the manufacturing domain that can leverage value from the RPA implementation.
- Purchase Order Creation
Most large and medium-scale organizations are frightened with the manual process of purchase order creation as it involves dealing with multiple product categories. Automating the thorough process of purchase order creation with RPA solution can ensure 100 percent accurate and prompt results. The bots automate the process in accordance with the rule-based workflow. Here are the processes automated with RPA in purchase order creation:
2. ERP Automation
RPA software intelligently automates functionalities of the enterprise resource planning system. Thereby RPA can fulfill the gaps that are beyond the ERP capabilities. The following diagram depicts the ERP process that can be automated with RPA:
The inventory control process, a vital portion lies at the base of the supply chain management. To meet the demands, it is important to monitor the inventory levels in real-time. The following functions can be automated with RPA in inventory management.
As such, their functions can be carried out with minimal manual intervention. In addition, the implementation of the RPA platform automatically creates a detailed audit trail. Its features like reports and live dashboards provide details about business patterns as well as internal workings, which can uncover potential challenges. These insights can eliminate the disruptions within the supply chain and enable process improvement and optimization.
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4. Vendor Communication
The manufacturing enterprises are in demand of the immense amount of manual effort in their day-to-day communication with customers, internal workforce, and vendors. For example, customer service representative deals with various queries including tracking the status of shipping goods in the ERP system, sending updates to the customer, and concludes the deal. The following diagram depicts how RPA takes over the entire process:
The RPA automation streamlines the process, increases the efficiency and reduces the manual errors as well as rework time and it leads to quality enhancement in operational performance and data processing.
5. Logistic Data Automation
Each manufacturing enterprise includes the logistic department to handle the transportation of the finished products to their clients. With the integration of RPA in the transportation management process, the enterprise can increase efficiency and reduce errors. The functions that can be automated with RPA are:
It is the right time for manufacturing domains to incorporate the next wave of automation in non-core processes issues with RPA and experience cost reduction and productivity enhancement. As such, the manufacturing enterprises, which want to unlock the complete potential of their management, productivity, and administration, should consider implementing the RPA solutions in their functional area.