The Manufacturing industry was an early adopter of physical robots on live production lines. They are now a top industry that leverages automation for
back office processes, known as Robotic Process Automation (RPA). In this blog, we will cover key areas where RPA is being applied for Supply Chain, Operations, Customer Service, Finance and HR.
An efficient, timely supply chain is critical to a thriving manufacturing business. Long lead times, poor inventory control and missed schedules lead to lost revenue and customer frustration. The use cases below illustrate how RPA has been used by manufacturing companies to eliminate waste and improve supply chain agility.
- Match carrier freight invoices to to the SAP shipment number, extract and submit invoice data to SAP, run a pricing tolerance check and clear the invoice for payment
- Receive an emailed order list, extract order details and submit order to Oracle E-business Suite
- Extract third party shipping information from Logistics inbox, upload DN number and shipping details to SAP
- Use weekly average fuel price on government website to calculate and apply a fuel surcharge to carriers
- Pull a monthly report for an inventory services group that includes monthly yield variances, run a macro to determine optimal levels; send the report with recommended levels for upcoming quarters to regional Paper Mills
- Turn requisition into Oracle purchase order by having the bot perform data entry and analysis, saving over 1 FTE annually
The manufacturing industry must excel in operational execution to effectively respond to customer demand. Operational process flaws can negatively impact quality, production and profit. Here are real examples of how RPA has been used to eliminate the downstream impact of process flaws.
- Monitor interfaces between SAP and site operating systems, flag failed processes and submit trouble ticket.
- Run report in SAP to get product type data, compare data to master Type record, correct inaccurate data and upload corrections to SAP
- Correct data in dealer management system by running 13 bots that download and correct data for 12 to 14 hours
- Enable suppliers to check the status of their invoices by having a bot respond to specific inquiries
- Automate the Master Data Management of wellness product line details by collecting data from excel, normalizing it and transferring it to SAP.
Technology has made it easier for customers to take their business elsewhere, hence the strong trend toward Customer Service investment in the Manufacturing industry. RPA has been used to improve the customer experience in the following ways:
- Settle complex customer deductions and overpayments in Oracle
- Convert customer submitted form to an order, correct pricing discrepancies and trigger fulfillment process
- Respond to missing cargo queries by tracking the shipment, soliciting status and submitting a carrier incident where appropriate
- Automate the collection and posting of Cement production and consumption data
Invoice processing in a manufacturing setting is painfully manual because it requires cross checking and validation across multiple systems by different departments and individuals across the supply chain. Taxation is another area that is highly automated in this industry given regional and global taxation complexity. Here are real Finance use cases from manufacturing industry clients:
- Recover previously unbilled customer property taxes
- Extract order and client data from Emails and Excel, and place them into ERP system, eliminating 100% of human error
- Sort through freight inbox, batch and send invoices or flag and email for further review
- Extract invoice from SAP, format and send to customer
- Ensure invoices are paid prior to due date
- Download invoice in PDF format, extract data, verify system data is correct, then email details to budget owner
- Extract finance data from SAP, insert it into a spreadsheet and run macros
Be to view our related blog, Intelligent Automation as a Key Enabler of Tomorrow's Agile Finance Function.
Payroll, employee onboarding, data integrity across systems and timecard management are top use cases in HR. Here is detail on real world use cases by manufacturing industry clients:
- Approve organization change requests based on verification of details from 10 different spreadsheets (eligibility, legal entity, etc.)
- Copy data from HRMS to SuccessFactors
- Complete a list of onboarding tasks upon confirmation of a new hire (e.g., provide applications and accounts, send training and benefits notifications), execute and monitor background check completion
- Determine if there is a discrepancy in punch-in and punch-out time, and check overtime rules
- Process non-standard payroll payments
Be sure to review our related blog, Making the Case for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in Human Resources.
Like many other industries, Manufacturing has had to find ways to address its unique challenges in a competitive, dynamic marketplace. We've seen significantly issues eliminated surprisingly quickly with the deployment of Bots.