Get to Market Faster With RPA for Manufacturing

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If you work in manufacturing, you already know the power of robots in improving time to market and quality of output. But what if there were a way to further improve the speed at which your team completed day-to-day tasks, in a fraction of the time? That’s where RPA in manufacturing comes in .

RPA has already been used to wild success across industries—from accounting to healthcare—automating repetitive workloads and freeing up talented employees to focus on more value-added work. Though the manufacturing industry is certainly no stranger to the use of robotics in production, there’s a new level of automation it’s time for the industry to tap into.

With RPA in manufacturing , you bring the benefits of precision and speed to your human-powered workflow. According to Deloitte’s global RPA survey , 53% of respondents across industries have already started their RPA journey, with total ROI realized in less than 12 months.

“We’re here to provide guidance on how RPA can also vastly improve the manufacturing industry, like it’s already done for so many industries,” said [Title] [Name]. “Most of our clients are surprised at how much time and effort they’ve saved with automation.”

With the excitement and ROI evident in these numbers, it’s beyond clear that manufacturing stands to benefit from automating internal processes.

In this blog, we’ll go into how RPA can benefit the manufacturing industry and provide a few snapshots of some real-world use cases.

The “What” of RPA in Manufacturing

Robotic process automation —more commonly known as RPA —covers when a software “robot” captures and interprets existing applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses, and communicating with other digital systems.

RPA can be used to automate a wide range of repetitive and routine tasks. This includes data entry, inventory management, quality control, order processing, and more. The appeal of these robots is that they can work 24/7—minimizing the need for downtime in off hours.

With RPA in the manufacturing sector growing to $7.60 billion in just the last couple of years , more and more manufacturers are tapping into the automation potential of RPA.

 

RPA for Manufacturing

 

How Robotic Process Automation in Manufacturing is Used Day-to-Day

Let’s take inventory management, for instance. It’s a critical task, but also repetitive and time-consuming. With RPA, you can automate this process. Your digital workforce will keep track of your inventory, alerting you when stocks are low or when it’s time to reorder.

RPA can also integrate with other systems in the manufacturing process. For instance, it can pull data from the manufacturing execution system (MES) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to provide real-time visibility into production status, enabling quick decision-making.

How Robotic Process Automation in the Manufacturing Industry and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Intersect

When working in tandem, these leading-edge technologies provide manufacturers with enhanced predictive capabilities, improved quality control, and more efficient supply chain operations.

1. Predictive Maintenance

RPA can continuously collect real-time performance data from connected equipment and feed this information to AI algorithms. The AI models then analyze trends and identify anomalies that indicate potential failures before they occur. This allows manufacturers to proactively schedule maintenance and avoid costly unplanned downtime.

Additionally, RPA and AI can automate quality assurance processes on assembly lines. Computer vision powered by AI can visually inspect products for defects. RPA bots can then perform automatic reworking or removal of defective items. This results in higher and more consistent product quality with less human effort.

Across the supply chain, RPA bots can gather and consolidate data from multiple systems, while AI optimizes logistics operations. Together, they enable dynamic inventory management, intelligent shipment routing, and more accurate demand forecasting.

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2. Price Forecasting

Price forecasting sounds exactly like what’s on the tin: It relates to predicting the future price of raw materials, products, or services.

When it comes to price forecasting, RPA can be used to automate the collection of relevant data from various sources such as supplier websites, market reports, and historical transaction data.

This data is then fed into an AI model, which uses machine learning and statistical techniques to analyze trends and make accurate price predictions. This can help manufacturers make informed purchasing and pricing decisions, optimize inventory levels, and improve profitability.

3. Quality Control

RPA can automate the process of gathering and recording quality data, reducing the risk of human error. AI can then analyze this data and use machine learning algorithms to identify patterns and predict potential quality issues.

Ai is particularly useful in its ability to read images of products to detect defects, or it can analyze production data to predict which factors are most likely to lead to quality issues.

4. Automating Shipping

RPA can automate many of the steps in shipping, such as entering order details into the system, generating shipping labels, and updating the inventory. AI can then optimize this process, for example, by using machine learning algorithms to predict the best shipping route based on factors like traffic, weather, and delivery priority.

AI can also use historical data to predict future shipping volumes, allowing manufacturers to plan ahead and optimize their logistics.

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The Benefits of RPA in Manufacturing

Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the technical uses of RPA and AI and how both can support the work of the other, we should take a look at the broad strokes of the benefits of RPA in manufacturing .

1. Better Efficiency

With RPA, you can automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks. Some of these we’ve already gone over, like data entry, inventory management, order processing, and quality control.

RPA bots can work 24/7 to reduce the likelihood of errors that can occur with manual processes. The result? Higher accuracy and quality. The time saved can then be used by employees to focus on more complex and value-added tasks, further improving the overall efficiency of the manufacturing process.

2. Better Risk Management

RPA contributes to improved risk management in several ways.

By reducing the reliance on human intervention for routine tasks, RPA minimizes the risk of human error, which can lead to costly mistakes. RPA can also be used to implement controls and checks that ensure compliance with industry standards and regulations, reducing the risk of non-compliance.

Your RPA deployment can provide a complete audit trail of activities, making it easier to track and monitor processes, identify potential risks, and take corrective action if necessary.

By automating data collection and analysis, RPA can provide real-time insights into operational performance, enabling manufacturers to identify and mitigate risks before they become significant issues.

3. Improve Time to Market

RPA can significantly improve the time to market in the manufacturing industry in several key ways:

  • Streamlining Product Design: Automate routine tasks in the product design phase, such as data entry and validation, document generation, and communication with stakeholders. This can speed up the design process and allow the design team to focus on more complex tasks.
  • Accelerating Production: Automate production tasks, such as scheduling, inventory management, and quality control. By doing so, you can increase production speed and efficiency, reduce errors, and ensure that products are produced on time and to the required quality standards.
  • Enhancing Supply Chain Management: Optimize supply chain processes, such as order processing, shipment tracking, and supplier communication. This can ensure that the necessary materials and components are available when needed, and prevent delays in the supply chain.
  • Facilitating Compliance: RPA can automate the process of ensuring compliance with industry standards and regulations. This includes tasks such as data collection and reporting, document generation, and audit preparation.

Robotic Process Automation in Manufacturing

The Challenges of Deploying RPA in Manufacturing

Despite all of the benefits of RPA in manufacturing , there are still some challenges facing those interested in deploying such a solution.

1. Lack of Staff Knowledge

Staff members need to understand how to configure and manage the RPA bots, monitor their performance, and troubleshoot any issues that arise. If the existing staff lacks this knowledge, it can be a significant barrier to RPA deployment.

Training staff can be time-consuming and costly, and there may be resistance from employees who are unfamiliar with or skeptical about the technology.

How working with an RPA consultant can help: An RPA consultant offers comprehensive training and support to ensure your staff is well-equipped to handle RPA technology.

2. Not Suitable for All Processes

While RPA is excellent for automating repetitive, rule-based tasks, it may not be suitable for all processes. Tasks that require complex decision-making, creativity, or a high level of human interaction may not be suitable for automation.

For example, tasks involving customer service, strategic planning, or product design may not be suitable for RPA. Furthermore, processes that are not well-defined or that change frequently may also be challenging to automate.

How working with an RPA consultant can help: Your RPA consultant knows that not all tasks are cut out for automation. That’s why they take the time to understand your business and identify the processes that are best suited for RPA.

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3. Ongoing Support May Be Needed

Implementing RPA is not a one-time event but an ongoing process that requires continuous support and maintenance. Once RPA bots are deployed, they need to be continuously monitored and maintained to ensure they are functioning correctly and efficiently.

This includes troubleshooting any issues that arise, updating the bots as processes change, and optimizing their performance over time.

Moreover, as the business environment and processes evolve, the RPA bots may need to be reconfigured or even redesigned to adapt to these changes. This can involve significant time and effort and may require the involvement of the original RPA developers or consultants.

How working with an RPA consultant can help: The right consultant is there to help with more than just the setup. They provide ongoing support to ensure your RPA solution continues to deliver value. Whether it’s troubleshooting, updates, or performance optimization, your RPA should be covered.

RPA in Manufacturing Use Cases

Though we’ve already spotlighted some of the most powerful use cases of RPA in manufacturing, let’s dive a bit further into specifics.

1. Inventory Management

As we’ve already seen, RPA is an incredibly powerful tool, especially for inventory management. But let’s also take a look at the benefits of how RPA in manufacturing handles inventory reporting:

  • Inventory reporting: Automatically generate these reports at regular intervals or on demand. The bot can pull data from the inventory database, perform the necessary calculations, and then format the results into a report. This saves time and ensures that the reports are always up-to-date and accurate.
  • Creation of purchase orders: Creating purchase orders, an essential part of doing business, is a repetitive task that involves the input of data into a system. RPA can be used to automate this process.

An RPA bot can be programmed to pull data from various sources such as an ERP system or a spreadsheet, fill in the necessary fields in the purchase order, and then submit the order. This not only speeds up the process but also reduces the risk of human error.

The bot can also be programmed to send a notification once the purchase order has been created, ensuring that all relevant parties are kept informed.

  • Bill of Materials (BOM): The BOM is a critical document in manufacturing that lists all the parts and materials needed to produce a product. Creating and managing this document can be a complex and time-consuming task.RPA can automate this process by pulling data from different sources, such as product design documents and supplier databases, and compiling it into the BOM. The bot can also provide updates when changes are made to the product design or when new supplier information is available.

2. Customer Service

RPA can also be a help automating work in customer service, such as responding to common customer inquiries, updating customer records, and processing orders and returns. Your deployment can automatically respond to customer emails or chat messages that contain certain keywords, providing quick and consistent responses.

3. Production Management

RPA can be used to automate aspects of production management, such as scheduling, resource allocation, and quality control.

With RPA support, you can automatically schedule production runs based on demand forecasts, allocate resources based on the production schedule, and monitor the production process for any deviations from the quality standards.

4. Supply Chain Management

Robotic Process Automation in the Manufacturing Industry

 

With RPA, you can automate a number of the steps of supply chain management, such as order processing, shipment tracking, and supplier communication.

Just one RPA bot can be programmed to automatically process orders, update the inventory, and send order confirmations to customers. The bot can also track shipments in real-time and update the system with the latest shipping status, ensuring that all parties have up-to-date information.

  • Invoice processing: An RPA bot can be programmed to receive electronic invoices, validate them against the purchase orders and goods received notes, and then process the payment. The bot can also update the accounts payable system with the invoice details and payment status.
    This not only speeds up the invoice processing time but also reduces the risk of errors and fraud.
  • Supply chain optimization:  RPA can also be used to optimize aspects of the supply chain, such as inventory management, demand forecasting, and logistics.
    For one thing, your bots can use historical sales data to forecast future demand and adjust the production schedule accordingly. They can also optimize logistics by selecting the most cost-effective and timely shipping routes.

5. Customer Engagement and Management

RPA bots can also update customer records, send out marketing communications, and process customer feedback. A bot can be programmed to automatically update your CRM system with the latest customer interactions, ensuring that all customer information is up-to-date.

Your deployment can also send out personalized marketing communications based on customer preferences and behavior, enhancing customer engagement.

6. Data Management

Data management involves the collection, validation, storage, protection, and processing of data to ensure its accessibility, reliability, and timeliness. RPA can automate data management tasks, such as data entry, data validation, and report generation.

For example, an RPA bot can be programmed to automatically enter data into a system, validate it against predefined rules, and update the system with the validated data. The bot can also generate reports based on the data, providing timely and accurate insights into various aspects of the manufacturing process.

  • Data migration: An RPA bot can be programmed to extract data from the source system, transform it into the format required by the target system, and then load it into the target system. The bot can also validate the migrated data to ensure its accuracy and completeness.
  • Order fulfillment: Your bots can be programmed to automatically receive orders from the sales system, update the inventory, generate pick lists for the warehouse, and update the order status once the items have been shipped.
  • Proof of delivery: With RPA, you can automatically receive the proof of delivery from the courier, validate it, and update the order status in the system. Your bots can also send a delivery confirmation to the customer and generate an invoice for the order.

 

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So, are you ready to transform your manufacturing process with RPA? Then it’s time to partner with 1Rivet. Contact us today to get started .

 

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  • Work with RPA experts with over 14 years of experience and 45 active clients.
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  • Streamline workflows by automating key tasks such as production schedules, order processing, and more.
  • Access comprehensive training and ongoing support during your RPA implementation project and beyond.
  • Reduce overheads by automating tasks, reducing errors, and freeing up your team to focus on value addition.

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