Can Robotic Process Automation make life easy for Manufacturers?


Robotic Process Automation(RPA) helps manufacturers to become more efficient, improve customer satisfaction and propel product innovation while lowering manufacturing and operational costs.

 RPA is the use of software to replaces routine and repetitive manual tasks. The software automates transfer, editing, saving and reporting of data.

RPA And Manufacturers

Typically, automation in the Manufacturing industry has been usually in the form of Physical Industrial Robots used for welding, painting, assembly, pick and place for printed circuit boards, packaging and labelling, palletising, product inspection, and testing. However, the industry has now recognised that innovation takes not only the form of physical Robots but also software Robots that helps to automate all the back office processes.  RPA can also be integrated with the production operations such as order fulfilment, production and shipping process; enabling manufacturers to innovate and focus on core strengths and the ability to exploit disruptive technology innovation to their advantage and enjoying all-around success.

Benefits Of RPA in Manufacturing

1.    Faster, more predictable delivery timing

2.    Documented trail of work performed Identification of anomalies or other red flags

3.    Up to 40% reduction in operational cost

4.    Increased control and visibility into end-to-end processes

5.    Freed up resources who can focus on higher value work thus increasing job satisfaction and employee longevity.

6.    Error-free, consistent results

7.    Significantly lower downtime and increased quality

Implementing RPA

What manufacturing related operations can I automate using RPA in my organisation?

1.   Order fulfilment & Purchase order processing

 RPA automates every step of the purchase order verifying the orders, pulling out data from multiple systems, checking the billing and delivery address and every other customer related information within the period of a few seconds. They also ensure that there aren’t any duplicate orders. Moreover, any exceptions are sent to the employee to resolve immediately. The time saved is at the least 30 times that of manual order processing.

2.  Bill of materials

Bill of Material (BOM) is the list of all materials and subcomponents required to build a product. As it is the mother of all documentation used to conduct the purchase and for producing the products any error in the BOM will be an expensive error and will cause many issues such as poor material planning, incorrect product cost, higher production cost and delay in shipping products to customers. 

RPA eliminates all these issues by automating every manual step and produces error-free, accurate and speedy delivery of BOM.

3.  Inventory Management

Maintaining correct inventory levels for Manufacturers is very crucial to keep customer satisfied and also to reduce cost and minimise wastes.

RPA is a blessing in disguise for Inventory Management as it can monitor inventory level, reorder products when inventory falls below reorder level. It also delivers real-time reporting which enables to order stock based on fluctuating demand and past pattern.

4. Transportation management

RPA for transportation and logistics enables you to eliminate expensive manual functions automatically by obtaining and interpreting data across the supply chain. RPA enables to share information with efficiently exchange information with shippers, carriers, logistics partners, freight bill payment processors and other trading partners.

5. Regulatory Compliance

It is challenging and cumbersome to monitor manual actions for regulatory purposes. RPA has an advantage that it stores all it is manual actions in a central repository that is very visible to all the other functions in the manufacturing supply chain. An anomaly is apparent and is immediately rectified. This data is also readily available for auditing purposes, and any regulatory change can be easily incorporated. 

6. Customer support and communication

RPA helps front-end employees to bee more responsive to customer inquiries as RPA will collect customer data 24 X7 analyse and present them to employees in a meaningful format so that employees can respond to customers promptly with the right insight into their problems. Survey reveals that Customer experience will outweigh price and product soon and RPA will lead you to meet these expectations.

How do you know which processes are appropriate for Automation?

Processes that require a lot of employee input- All processes that need much input from employees like order processing, claims processing, enter customer & employee information & data migration. Automation of these activities means that these processes will be quicker and error free.

Simple processes - Start with automating simple processes that require a lot of employee input but are easy to execute. Once these automated processes are running smoothly, more complex processes should be handled as the company gets used to automation.

A high number of transactions - RPA robots are capable of working 24 x 7. They can work at least three times more than a human employee on any given day. They also do not enjoy weekends and holidays. Hence high volume tasks are ideal for robots maximising productivity and costs.

Routine & Predictable Tasks are ideal for automation. Back office tasks are more predictable than front office processes that require human judgement and prediction. Hence back office processes are more straightforward to automate.

The need for Outsourcing. Regulatory compliance is complicated to achieve when your processes are outsourced as there is no visibility and the organisational structure and compliance need vary from firm to firm. By implementing RPA, we can monitor all compliance requirement in-house through a single server and take remedial action when necessary. Also, automation through RPA is a lot cheaper than outsourcing, and hence the benefits are twofold.

Cost of RPA

The cost of implementing RPA depends on the complexity of the processes, the number of bots required, the time taken to develop and implement them and the level of customisation needed. The ideal start point is to pilot a simple process using the above criteria. Measure & monitor the benefits, tweak the automation as necessary, learn lessons and then proceed to more complex automation to maximise profits and minimise costs.

In summary, RPA is an excellent enabler for Manufactures to move towards Industry 4.0 A recent survey by ISG revealed that 92% of companies are aiming to adopt RPA by 2020. RPA solutions help to increase productivity, improve job satisfaction and helps accelerate towards disruptive Innovation!


For further queries or for a free organisational assessment contact Raji Vaidyanathan RPA & Business Improvement Advisor at info@hoshin-kanri-advisory.co.uk

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