How is robotic process automation used in supply chains today and what benefits can RPA bring to a modern organization?
In a world where supply chains are a constant topic of conversation, it’s beneficial to know ways to improve supply chain-related processes with automation technology in the form of robotic process automation (RPA).
In this blog, we’re going to discuss some common ways that organizations today incorporate RPA into their supply chains and how it’s used at every stage.
How Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Has Changed Supply Chain Management
Introducing RPA into your supply chain processes can have a huge influence on the efficiency and productivity of a business’ workforce and business practices.
By automating repetitive, manual-input processes that typically take a lot of time and effort from humans and giving it to a robot, you free up your workforce for more human-centric tasks.
This saves a lot of time and money and improves the effectiveness of the automated processes.
Businesses can use RPA in many different parts of their supply chain process including customer service, order fulfillment, shipping and tracking, data analysis, and data entry.
Businesses that properly utilize it in these types of processes see gains in customer satisfaction and increases in ROI.
Related Post: 7 Uses of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for SMBs
RPA’s Role Within a Supply Chain
Robotic process automation continues to play a large role in many parts of a company’s supply chain process.
From customer service to managing the warehouse, RPA removes much of the unnecessary misuse of manpower, allowing people to do the people's work and letting the robots automate the more menial tasks.
1. Customer Service Needs
Many people don’t realize that much of the post-sale customer service can be done through robotic process automation.
This can speed up the process, reduce the amount of waiting customers have to do before getting a response, and reduces errors.
RPA can handle a variety of tasks in this area of the supply chain such as returns, swaps, and refunds, along with re-stocking, shipping, delivery, updates, and more.
90% of employees are burdened with menial tasks which can be easily automated with technologies like RPA, which translates to a lot of lost time and money.
2. Data Entry Automation
Manual entry of customer and order information takes up valuable time that could be spent on tasks that require more human touch.
RPA in data automation reduces paperwork, manual labor, and can also remember trends like repeat orders and customers and other time-saving features.
3. Order Management
Depending on the company and industry, a business could be filling hundreds or thousands of orders each day, presenting the need for precision and accuracy when it comes to managing those orders from placement to delivery.
By using RPA within this process, a company can save lots of human work hours that would be spent checking stock, filling orders, shipping, and tracking deliveries. Instead, RPA automates this entire process.
Such are the benefits of RPA that 78% of businesses that have implemented some kind of RPA system expect to significantly increase their investment over the next three years.
Using RPA in an order management process can help streamline the overall automation process by making it easier
4. Shipping and Logistics
Complete, ship, and track deliveries for all orders with RPA-based processes that can keep you and your customers updated on the status of an order from start to finish.
Automation within shipping and logistics makes sure that everyone is aware of changes in the shipping schedule like cancellations or delays that can disrupt business operations and result in lost business.
All of this is conducted in real-time when attended or unattended bots are triggered to perform their workflows and then transmit the results (like order documents) to the appropriate stakeholders.
5. Warehouse Management
Using RPA in warehouse management streamlines processes and reduces human errors in inventory reports.
RPA can also be integrated with other software like warehouse management systems to give companies benefits in a few key areas:
- Picking: Organizations are dealing with more inventory than ever before which can make picking difficult. Automation in this process can help pickers find items in pick-to-light systems or bring products to operators in goods-to-person systems which reduces the time workers need to go about finding items.
- Scanning: Using scanning technology within a warehouse decreases the chance of human error and makes it easy to digitize and automatically record and transmit that data into an automated database.
- Inventory: Digitizing paper-based, manual processes that are typically used for inventory management gives businesses better oversight over their operations, increases accuracy, and reduces the chance of inventory loss or misplacement. Automating your inventory management also makes it easier to document and report your processes which is important for compliance purposes.