FIELD INTELLIGENCE: Smart Processes, Solutions & Strategies
As we enter Industry 4.0, the lines continue to blur between the digital and the physical. With this, the workplace is rapidly changing at every level in every industry. In particular, robotic process automation (RPA), a platform on which bot technology is used to organize and execute repeatable workplace tasks, is evolving and changing the way corporations implement technology.
As RPA grows increasingly smarter through the introductions of additional artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, it proves its ability to improve manufacturing through productivity, meeting customer demands and allowing for more time spent on product innovation—while decreasing costs.
Kryon worked with Amber Beverage Group, an international distributor, producer, exporter and retailer of beverages, to implement RPA and ultimately increase employee efficiency throughout the purchasing and shipment process.
The analysis of the Amber Beverage Group case study gives a unique look into how and where RPA was implemented during the ordering and manufacturing lifecycle of a major beverage group.
Previously operating on an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, ABG’s team members (including management) found workdays frequently disrupted by repetitive and cumbersome manual tasks and processes. The disruptions of course hindered productivity.
For instance, ERP would email between one and five employees, asking them to login to their ERP portal every time a purchase was ordered within the ERP system. This proved to be very difficult because employees were often traveling abroad and did not have VPN access, or they were tied up in bigger projects throughout the day and could not afford disruption for a trivial task.
Using RPA to automate tedious tasks allows companies like Amber Beverage Group to shift focus and allocate more time to creative solutions and strategic projects.
With Outlook, Excel, and Amber Beverage Group’s ERP system, Kryon automated 10 internal workflow processes that effectively streamlined the way managers approve purchase orders. Some of the automated tasks included promoting managers to approve purchase orders, updating the ERP system with the orders, updating order creators, checking for unrecorded responses and checking for failed processes throughout the order lifecycle.
As a result, Amber Beverage Group employees boasted 400 purchase order approvals streamlined per day and improved customer service that allows crediting returns almost immediately.
In addition, costly mistakes, such as incorrect invoices, were completely prevented.
Lastly, automating these processes heightened Amber Beverage Group employee efficiency and morale, as fewer distractions during the workday allowed employees to focus more on making the most of their knowledge and skills.
Interestingly, a recent study from Deloitte found that only 32 percent of companies are prepared for RPA and automation. That mirrors our understanding that many manufacturers still fear jumping into automation.
Because many manufacturing processes are innately repetitive, there is a promising future for educating others and bringing RPA into company systems to improve productivity and minimize error.
It is also important to keep in mind that by reducing time spent on costly manual tasks throughout the manufacturing and shipment lifecycle, workers are able to allocate more time for higher-value work that involve their strategic, creative and people skills.