Manufacturing, the backbone of the global economy has for long been the early adopters of robotics to perform daily activities in the manufacturing plant. However, the time-intensive processes that support the production line such as procurement, regulatory compliance, or inventory management-still largely rely on people-driven processes. And now to stay competitive these organizations have started to adapt and optimize these often complex and intertwined processes along the manufacturing value chain. Using RPA in their back office processes they have been able to automate certain activities that minimize human errors and maximize productivity. By automating back-office and operational processes within the manufacturing value chain the manufacturers have been able to move faster and more effectively, while at the same time been able to reduce costs and accelerating time-to-market.

Functional areas where RPA can be effectively used

Bill of Material (BOM) is a crucial document in the manufacturing industry as it comprises a detailed list of raw materials, components, sub-components, and other material required for building a product. All the employees in the company refer the document to know what to purchase, how to purchase, where to purchase, and for detailed instructions such as how to assemble a product and pack it. The document is so critical to the manufacturing companies that even a single miss or an error could lead to issues such as inferior material planning, inaccurate product cost, elevated production cost, and even delay in shipment, which is why RPA becomes so significant in the manufacturing industry.

While basic automation tools such as macro-based applets, screen scraping tools, and product-specific workflows are helpful in automating certain activities under BOM, RPA specifically helps in enhancing process automation by completely replicating the steps that a human does in generating BOM. A significant point to note here is unlike the older automation tools, non-technical users can also use RPA. It is less complex and highly agile.

When you think of manufacturing, invoices from the vendors are the first thing that comes to our minds. Invoice processing is a time-consumer and excruciating process. You have to go through each of the invoice, crosscheck them, send them for approval, and so on. The entire process not just takes your time, but it is also prone to errors due to multiple scrutiny and change of hands. RPA helps in scanning, reading and checking the invoices against the Purchase order, sending the invoice automatically for approval to the concerned department to fix the discrepancies, entering the invoice into the accounting system once it is fixed, and finally marking the purchase order as completed. Similarly, the manual processing of purchase order and the non-conformity in order information led to delay of 25-30 minutes in processing the order.

RPA helps in verifying the orders, pulling the data from several systems, checking the billing, and verifying them to ensure that there are no duplicate orders placed. This systematic approach helps manufacturing companies in reducing the order-to-fulfillment time and increasing the number of orders fulfilled per month.

Some of the benefits of RPA in Manufacturing Sector:

Optimize time-bound and routine processes

Maximize productivity and increases the go-to-market speed

Cost reductions due to minimal human errors

Increases agility across operations

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