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FEATURE ROBOTIC PROCESS AUTOMATION (RPA) THE PATH TO CREATING AN ‘AUTOMATION FIRST’ ERA


For process engineers involved in automating physical factory floor machinery, RPA may be a relatively new concept. UiPath talks to Michelle Lea about the benefits it brings to the whole value chain


M


anufacturers already rely on process automation, and more latterly,


robots, to carry out tasks on the factory floor. And with the advent of Industry 4.0, the Industrial Internet of Things, and the ongoing quest for the utopian ‘Smart factory’ of the future, this is a trend that is set to continue. Despite these robots streamlining the


assembly line, the manufacturing industry still struggles to maintain control over managing its back-office and operational processes. Manufacturers must juggle labour and time-intensive processes such as customer communication, procurement, inventory management and payment processing. At the same time, they have to maintain cost reduction and efficiency. In order to apply the same level of automation to back office duties as factory-floor processes, many manufacturing companies are turning to RPA (Robotic Process Automation). According to UiPath, RPA helps users attain improved agility and more streamlined operations across the value chain, resulting in up to a 20% cost savings across various touch points. Early this spring, UiPath opened its


inaugural Immersion Lab at its facility in Bucharest, Romania. Editors, journalists and guests from around the world, were in attendance to gain an insight into the work the company is doing to ‘accelerate human achievement’. The guests were treated to a tour of the Immersion Lab, a physical space where prospects, customers and partners across EMEA can visit for a deep-dive journey into RPA and Artificial Intelligence. UiPath says the Lab will enable


customers and partners to deliver optimal RPA and AI implementations by simulating their environment beforehand, and also allow them to realise possibilities beyond their existing RPA operation.


innovation to its customers, and maintain efficient communication with suppliers. Changing regulation and compliance


measures in the areas of finance, health and safety, and waste management were also an issue, compounded by the company’s global customer and supplier base, which meant maintaining compliance with regulations that varied between countries. The manufacturer also faced a


significant skills gap because many of its skilled workers were retiring, with a 280% hiring increase required to keep up, compared to 7 years ago. Operational hurdles, such as recruiting new individuals, reviewing CVs, scheduling interviews, etc, burdened the HR department. Another problematic, labour-intensive,


The opening of the Lab forms an


integral part of UiPath’s mission to create an ‘Automation First’ era. This initiative champions one robot for every person, free and open training and collaboration, and enabling software robots to learn new skills through AI and machine learning. The Lab has been built with pre-


installed and ready-to-use showcases involving emerging technologies from the UiPath partner ecosystem. Customers and partners can bring their own data and test pre-configured demo use-cases, exploring automation and AI technology integration, to guide their digital transformation strategies. Teams will build and test showcases in various lab environments – with outcomes recorded and documented for further use. Other Immersion Labs in Bangalore, Seattle and Tokyo are set to open by the end of 2019. To more closely consider the role of


RPA in manufacturing, let’s look at a large automotive company based in North America with 150,000 employees. Despite the use of physical robots in its manufacturing assembly line, the company faced significant pain points in the back office: keeping up with new regulations, lack of skilled labour, and inventory management. These factors limited the company’s ability to reduce costs, provide exceptional services and


MANAGING PALLET TRACKING IN FOOD PRODUCTION


Challenge: A food production company's process for managing pallets relied on a detailed, manual exchange of data between the production system, enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, and logistics supplier. For each of the 20 pallets per day, employees spent 120 seconds using two applications on desktop and web to enter the correct information for their records. Solution: The UiPath Robot communicates between the production system, the ERP system, and the web portal of a logistics supplier. Human workers send information to the Robot, which looked up the pallet numbers and registered them in the web portal before transferring the rental time to the client. This automation resulted in savings through direct entries into the target system, plus more independence of departments. Results: Implemented in 4 weeks; 80% of efforts automated; ROI in 8 months; 0% error rate; Manual effort was reduced to 0%; 75% reduction in processing time. The work was carried out in partnership with Roboyo in Germany.


20 JUNE 2019 | PROCESS & CONTROL


Guests from around the world were treated to a tour of the new Immersion Lab. As well as introducing customers to UiPath’s RPA


capabilities, the Lab will also be used for conducting UiPath Academy Live training and streaming live webinars about new product highlights and solutions


manual process was inventory control, especially due to unpredictabilities in supplier delivery and customer demand. With RPA, the company was able to


automate back office processes, and identify and improve deficiencies within these operations. By automating emails, procurement processes, as well as the digitisation of paperwork, inventory control was improved. Real-time monitoring of customer demand, production capacity, and inventory levels meant that the company operated more efficiently across the value chain, reduced costs, and enhanced communications with both suppliers and customers. And finally, what of the criticism levelled


at RPA that it will destroy human jobs? UiPath believes the opposite, while RPA is a powerful tool, realising the value of human potential is at the heart of it. In response to the claim made by the


Office of National Statistics (ONS) that 1.5 million people are at risk of losing their jobs to automation, Bruno Ferreira, managing director UK & Ireland at UiPath, said: “On the surface these statistics may seem alarming, but far from destroying jobs, our latest research has found that robotic process automation (RPA) can help to transform jobs and keep employees happy and engaged by releasing them from mundane and admin-related tasks...” The last word goes to Guy Kirkwood,


Chief Evangelist at UiPath, who said: “In almost all organisations that value their people, by taking away the mundane work and raising them up to do higher value work, you end up with a happier employee, and you also end up with more jobs. AI and RPA will be a net job promoter. They will create more jobs than they eliminate. Where are we going? A robot for evey person.”


UiPath www.uipath.com


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