Anand is the Founder of Sphinx Solutions having experience more than a decade.
Logistics and Supply Chain is one of the fastest-growing and the most competitive sectors in the world. Over the years, businesses have invested billions of dollars in scaling up their process and infrastructure to lower the price and look for opportunities to increase efficiency.
This industry heavily relies on back-office operations to undertake challenging jobs such as scheduling shipments & deliveries, cross-docking, monitoring changes, handling exceptions, and, most important, keeping customers happy. Most manufacturers, retailers, and logistics providers have integrated supply chain management systems, but data integration and process automation remain a challenge for them.
What is RPA?
Facts and Stats about RPA
HFS research estimates that in 2020 this figure will rise to $232 million and by 2021 to $272 million. These projections indicate that there is a strong demand for RPA tools in the global market. RPA services also became popular among enterprises, and it generated $198 million in 2016. A report predicts that By 2021, this figure is expecting to rise to $952 million.
Benefits of Implementing RPA
1) Decreased Cost:
Businesses could save approximately 30% when an RPA software replaces a business process performed by a full-time employee.
2) Reduce Operational Risk:
RPA eliminates human errors such as tiredness or lack of knowledge; thus, it helps in reducing the rate of operational risk.
3) Improve Customer Experience and Better Employee Engagement:
4) Improve Scope of Data Collection and Quality:
RPA helps in reducing manual errors that lead to higher quality data and enables analytics teams to access more data, which leads to more accurate analysis.
5) Easy Integration with Existing IT Infrastructure:
How RPA is solving problems within the supply chain
For any supply chain business, the most crucial task is to maintain constructive communication between customers, suppliers, transport agencies, and manufacturers. An organization always has open communication during critical situations such as shipping delay or difficulty in order fulfillment to build up trust and credibility. For now, most of this task is handled manually. But with RPA, businesses can easily automate this entire communication process.
RPA also helps in automating email replies when an order has been requested, dispatched, struck midway, delayed, or received. It ensures that all stakeholders of the supply chain can get real-time notifications. Moreover, bots can also read emails, recognize the meaning of the content, and perform necessary actions. It frees not only human resources but also eliminates human errors.
2)Supply and Demand Planning
Before RPA, supply and demand planning wasn’t exactly a cakewalk for any organization. Employees need to collate necessary information from different sources such as from vendors, customers, market intelligence, and sales teams and then represent this data into a standardized format.
With RPA, organizations can automate supply and demand planning. It also helps in gathering and formatting necessary information from various sources, analyzing data exceptions, running data cleansing, as well as transforming data into a plan. After automation, the human role is restricted to handling robot exceptions, running simulations, and running supply and demand meetings to seek plan consensus.
3) Vendor Selection and Procurement
In selecting and procuring vendors, organizations need to engage in a time consuming manual process. That involved preparing an RFQ (request for quotation) document, communicating with vendors, performing a preliminary analysis of vendor documents, evaluating the vendor credit check, as well as finalizing the vendor selection. With the implementation of RPA, the company can automate vendor selection and procurement processes. Human intervention is limited to the initial phase of work involved, such as specifying the project, generating potential vendor lists, and engaging in site visits and negotiations. Post-automation, supply chain businesses can improve cycle time by 25-50% and processing time by 15-45%.
4) Order Processing and Payments
Order processing in any business consists of three stages that include particular product/service selection, initiate payment, and confirmation of the order.
5) Shipment Status Communication
Logistic service centers regularly receive thousands of inquiries from customers about the status of their order parcel. The manual process follows like this- customer service representative has to open each email, open the ERP system to find out shipment record, and then to make a note of the shipment. Finally, they send a shipment status update to customers.
However, after the introduction of RPA, the complete process right from- opening the email, addressing customer requests, logging into the ERP system, and communicating the exact status of shipment to the customer can be automated.
RPA global market could see a 30.14% annual growth rate between 2017 and 2022. RPA automation has changed the way the Supply Chain industry operated in the past and has improved the capability of the Supply Chain and Logistics sector to innovate.
Robotic process automation comes with the ability to transform the supply chain and disrupt the way goods are produced, marketed, purchased, and consumed. This investment can provide long-term benefits and improve relations with vendors, clients, and employees. Even the integration of RPA with ERP systems can help supply chain providers to automate most of their work processes.
In the future, we can see the ocean of opportunities within RPA, which helps to improve ROI and reduce costs for the vast supply chain and logistics industry.