The manufacturing industry has always been at the forefront of introducing new technologies to increase efficiency and reduce costs. As the world enters complete digitalization on all levels, manufacturers are again the first to adopt advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and robots.
RPA or Robotic Process Automation is designed to increase efficiency and reduce costs by automating production. As many as 85% of large organizations will have some kind of RPA solution in place by 2022, so it's clear that the practice has a lot of potential. As technology becomes more available, RPA solutions will soon find their way into medium and small businesses. Let's see where RPA makes the most difference and what benefits it provides in the long run.
As mentioned above, RPA stands for Robotic Process Automation, and it's a type of software designed to improve business operation through automation. The approach provides numerous important benefits that reduce human errors costs while increasing efficiency.
Robots have been used in the manufacturing industry for decades as they are far more accurate than humans. Robots are also the better choice because they don't get tired or make mistakes. As a result, they are widely used in manufacturing to complete tasks such as product assembly, quality assurance, packaging, etc. However, traditionally, maintaining robots and entering new programs used to be very time-consuming and prone to human error.
However, with RPA solutions available, human resources can focus on other tasks as the software will handle all robots automatically. That leads to a significant reduction in operating costs. The proper implementation can save manufacturers time and money and bring automation to a whole new level. RPA bots are already used in steel production, mining, healthcare, and many other industries.
The Importance of Using RPA Bots in Manufacturing
The industry has reached a point where it's moving from traditional production methods to a digital environment. Manufacturers are under constant pressure to stay competitive in the markets, so they have to find new ways to reduce costs and increase efficiency. The process includes:
- Creating a better customer experience.
- Increasing transparency across the entire operation.
- Introducing new ways to improve business flexibility.
They are achieving all that is impossible with traditional software solutions, as manufacturers have to redefine their processes from the ground up. New techniques such as the RPA are being developed to help optimize manufacturing by increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of repetitive and time-consuming tasks.
Once applied, RPA can find new ways to improve productivity and save costs. In an era where it's extremely hard to find skilled technicians and support staff, RPA software is the next best thing. The steel industry was among the first to apply RPA solutions, and it's already showing impressive results in steal production.
Challenges Solved By RPA Software Solutions
Here are some of the main challenges where RPA software makes the most difference.
- BoM (Bill of Materials)
BoM lists are an essential part of product assembly processes as they define what parts, raw materials, and components are needed during the assembly. Unfortunately, BoM lists are prone to human error, and a single mistake can cost the manufacturer a considerable amount of money, effort, and time. RPA software can handle all BoM lists automatically, reducing the number of defects and shipping times, which leads to a huge cost reduction in the long run.
Selling products on a global market is followed by various compliance problems that can complicate shipping and lead to hidden shipping and warehousing costs. Moreover, as laws differ from one country to another, compliance can be a massive issue for heavy industries such as steel production, mining, healthcare, etc.
After implementing some type of RPA software, compliance won't be a problem anymore. The AI in charge will ensure that every product is made and shipped according to the compliance requirement. Moreover, it will track all rules in real-time and update manufacturing activities accordingly.
Maintaining communication with existing clients and potential customers is also becoming increasingly complicated. With so many different channels available, manufacturers either have to hire more live agents or use AI-driven bots to increase efficiency. Things become even more complex if production occurs across multiple factories and offices. Managing such a system is a challenge even for the best manager.
RPA bots are designed to automate all of these processes, leaving managers with more time to focus on other essential tasks. RPA bots can handle operations such as name recognition, email replies, live customer support, language detection, etc. But that's not all. RPA solutions proved to be excellent for system monitoring and updating. The communication between departments becomes much more direct with the use of RPA tools.
- Data Migration
Data migration is without a doubt one of the main challenges of digitalization in manufacturing. Migrating data from older systems or paper to a digital environment takes a lot of time and effort. One small mistake can lead to essential data loss and organizational issues.
With RPA software in place, data migration is much more manageable and easier to complete. RPA bots can scan and digitize paper files, integrating them with the new digital system perfectly. As a result, it saves manufacturers a lot of time, reduces human errors, and increases data quality.
- Customer Support and Service Desk
Regardless of your industry, you need strong customer service to ensure long-term success. The manufacturing industry is no different, but many manufacturers struggle to keep up with the customer support trends due to outdated techniques and technology. The steel industry, in particular, is very complex, so it's hard to find enough live agents that have the skills and knowledge needed to provide help.
An RPA platform can help there too. It simplifies data management, allowing managers to access multiple systems from a single dashboard with minor time spending. That way, they can provide more accurate solutions and create client profiles to simplify interactions with the clients in the future.
Benefits of RPA in Manufacturing
RPA bots are not physical robots, but they also increase productivity through automation. They can be used to improve manufacturing and supply chain management in multiple ways. All essential processes such as quoting, invoicing, general ledger operations, and others become fully automated, minimizing mistakes and helping employees increase efficiency. Here are some of the main benefits of using RPA bots in steel production:
- Saving Costs
The primary benefit of using an RPA solution is reducing operating costs. The RPA solution requires a one-time payment, after which it becomes an integrated part of the system. Once the bots take over, the manufacturer doesn't have to worry about ongoing operating costs, manual labor costs, insurance, maintenance, administration, etc. Moreover, RPA solutions will be up and running 24/7, so there won't be interruptions due to working hours and other restrictions.
- Manufacturing Process Flexibility
Most RPA solutions are simple to deploy and don't require additional IT costs. Even if your operators don't have previous experience with RPA solutions, they can quickly pick things up and create a more flexible system that can cope with future market trends in real-time.
RPA bots provide essential benefits in areas other than manufacturing. They can deploy into any rule-based operation and complete repetitive activities without human interaction. Of course, that results in higher efficiency and accuracy and a significant reduction in errors and time.
- Error and Waste Reduction
Poor waste management and errors during production can seriously damage ROI and customer satisfaction. That's why manufacturers are always looking for new ways to reduce waste and eliminate error. Most of them pour money into quality assurance to prevent defects from reaching the customer, but the process comes with all kinds of costs.
Manual quality assurance is also prone to inconsistencies, and every mistake adds to the inventory wastage. RPA solutions can optimize quality assurance and waste management once they are applied to the system. RPA software is already showing excellent results in steel production and other industries.
Steel production and other manufacturing domains are going through a digital transformation that offers all kinds of advanced AI-powered tools designed to optimize production and reduce costs. RPA solutions use automation to improve all non-core processes to reduce operating costs and increase productivity. Manufacturers far and wide are adopting RPA solutions to unlock their full potential in areas such as management, productivity, and administration.