With Industry 4.0, companies are rapidly shifting from traditional supply chains to digital supply networks. They are using software and technologies like ERP, CRM, RFID, GSM, AI and machine learning to start their digital journey. However, to take this digital transformation forward, organizations need to focus on automation as well.
A study by Information Services Group (ISG) shows that automation technologies can allow up to a 43% reduction in resources for order-to-cash processes, 34% for invoicing, and 32% for vendor and talent management.
Automation technologies like RPA can turn out to be a game changer in supply chain management. It allows companies to replace tedious and mundane human processing involved in the supply chain with fast and accurate automation. RPA is also important because it enables better collaboration and communication between disparate applications and helps in eliminating data silos. Therefore, companies that adopt RPA in supply chain management enjoy higher accuracy, cost reduction, increased ROI, better customer value and a host of other benefits.
Understanding the use of RPA in top 5 operational areas of manufacturing
Manufacturing companies still struggle to keep back-office processes fast and simple, mainly due to less skilled labor, repetitive processes, old-fashioned supply chain and inventory systems, and frequently changing regulatory requirements.
How RPA is solving real problems within the supply chain
Initially, the uptake of RPA implementation for supply chains was slow, but today it is increasingly being adopted across several areas. Organizations from various industries like automotive, healthcare, retail and manufacturing are implementing RPA to improve their supply chain process. Moreover, with the inclusion of cognitive capabilities like computer vision and optical character recognition, RPA can handle several other complex scenarios within the supply chain that otherwise need human judgement.
Now, let us have a look at some of the ways in which RPA is creating value for the supply chain:
Order processing and payments
RPA can be used to efficiently handle key operations of order processing including product selection, payment processing and order confirmation. This helps in optimizing productivity, reducing errors and saving time.
Also, bots can be used to update information in the company’s database, process the payment, and send notifications to the required parties via e-mail and text. All these tasks can be easily automated using static business rules and do not need any human intervention.
With RPA, it becomes easier to keep track of the inventory levels, notify managers when levels are low and automatically reorder products. Moreover, it also helps to keep track of low-demand SKUs, so that these products can be returned to the vendor at the right time.
In addition, RPA provides quick status about inventory levels in real time. This real-time reporting combined with historical data is useful to determine optimal inventory levels and make better restocking decisions.
For any supply chain organization, the most critical task in to maintain an effective communication between manufacturers, suppliers, transportation agencies and customers, yet most of its tasks are usually handled manually. Now with RPA, businesses can easily automate this entire communication process. This not only frees human resources but reduce errors as well.
RPA also helps to automate email replies when an order has been requested, dispatched, struck midway, delayed or received. This ensures that all the parties involved in the supply chain get real-time notifications. Moreover, bots can also read emails received, recognize the context of the content and perform actions upon it. This process helps to reduce the human intervention required for answering queries.
Supply and demand planning
Supply and demand planning begins with gathering data from various sources like inventory levels, sales history, current market trends, pricing structure and more. The collected data is further optimized and aggregated into a standardized format for analysis. Using RPA technologies, data gathering, optimization and formatting can be done quickly.
By automating the time-taking and cumbersome tasks, organizations can expedite the planning process, eliminate the possibility of manual errors and make the process more efficient.
Transportation and logistics
Transportation and logistics are an integral part of supply chain management. However, a major part of these operations still rely on manual handling and require employees to work on multiple applications at the same time. By integrating RPA, companies can eliminate these manual processes easily. Moreover, bots can be used to automate day-to-day processes like lead generation, intermodal pricing, shipment tracking, credit clearing, invoice collection, securing proof of delivery and more.
RPA can also be used to extract shipment information from an incoming email request. Bots can collect details like pickup and drop-off points, desired delivery time and other pertinent information. They can also pick an appropriate delivery slot and schedule the shipments automatically by logging into the desired portal. This way RPA helps to improve service and customer experience.
Customer service is at the heart of any supply chain process and therefore businesses always look forward to delivering great customer experiences. By integrating RPA, agents can get a step ahead. They can focus on solving customer’s problem and build a positive relationship rather than spending time in mundane routine processes.
RPA can help to streamline support operations by automating processes like data entry, searching and sorting data, downloading attachments, form processing and email communication. This reduces the scope of errors along with the time required to resolve a complaint.
Empower your supply chain with RPA
By using RPA for supply chain operations, businesses can improve their efficiency, enhance cycle times and reduce shipping delays. It also provides long-term value by improving vendor, customer and employee satisfaction. Even RPA integration with ERP systems can help supply chain providers to automate some of their key processes. Therefore, enterprises should plan to use RPA in their supply chain process as early as possible.
Moreover, they need to have an end-to-end approach regarding RPA implementation, as it will help in achieving the desired results. In case you are searching for an RPA implementation partner or need consultation our experts are here to help you.