Cracking the corona crisis: is RPA the key to mechanical mastery?

Robotic process automation (RPA) is low cost, quick to implement and digitalises entire workflows but only 20% of manufacturers say they're ready


Whether saving lives or stacking shelves, companies worldwide have been using workplace automation to crack the challenges of the corona crisis and beyond. CIOs are increasingly turning to an emerging technology called robotic process automation (RPA) to simplify operations and reduce costs.

RPA is a software which helps automate manual processes. Unlike AI and machine learning, RPA is process driven, not data driven – the brawn of the operation if you will. It automates pre-built processes, specifically those which use multiple systems and multiple points of manual entry across the business.

The good news is, as a mechanical master of rule-based, repetitive tasks, RPA is well suited to the manufacturing sector – let’s take a look at an example.

Whether you’re a business analyst in finance and accounting, HR or supply chain, chances are you’ve had to endure the tedious task of entering data into an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system. From data gathering, to processing and validating, it would be fair to say this is an error prone and brain cell bashing job.

RPA is able to automate entire workflows of ERP data entries. So instead of taking hours, this process takes minutes, minimising errors and organising data for better business intelligence. With this new found breathing space, you can spend less time on low-value tasks, and more on serving your business. So if that’s the case, why isn’t everyone using it?

According to a recent study published by Deloitte, just 20 per cent of manufacturers surveyed feel equipped to deal with changes brought about by the digital revolution. Given the unpredictable future of the global economy, despite a desire for businesses to stay agile there has been a push back against investment in technology.

Believe it or not, there are ways of utilising RPA without breaking the bank. Bots for instance are typically low-cost and easy to implement because there is no custom software or deep systems integration required. Labour-intensive when performed manually, inventory control is further complicated by fluctuating demand. Use of bots to automate emails, digitise paperwork, and monitor inventory levels identifies and improves deficiencies while reducing costs.

So it can be said that from corona crisis cracking robots, to virtual personal assistants, RPA offers an exciting prospect to manufacturers looking to stay agile in these very odd and unprecedented times.

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