When it comes to digital transformation and automation, one of the business areas that provides the most value is supply chain management. In recent surveys, almost 60% of companies see supply chain management as a principal strategy to maintain a competitive edge. As a result, automation accounted for 25% of supply chain management spending.
Why is robotic process automation (RPA) valuable to supply chain management? How can it be successfully implemented? And what are the benefits of RPA to your organization’s supply chain?
Why Is Robotic Process Automation Important for Supply Chain Management?
Supply chain management generates numerous tedious tasks that are performed countless times daily, such as generating work orders, inventory and stock-taking, scheduling, packaging and shipping, and tracking. These can consume the time and energy of current staff members, and during busy seasons you may find you need to hire and train additional personnel.
RPA can free up personnel so they can be on the floor solving problems rather than stuck gathering data and initializing processes. Automated systems and bots can perform much of the data gathering and distribution, fill out forms, generate orders and schedules, and even solve specific logistical and scheduling problems. Only certain issues might need a human representative.
Implementing RPA in Your Supply Chain
First, identify the processes that are time-consuming and repetitive. Then map the process and determine what can be automated. A side benefit to doing this is that you will likely see ways to standardize the process and provide consistency throughout the process. So, in addition to making things more efficient through automation, there will be added efficiency due to process standardization and consistency.
The main challenge is any disruption in the supply chain affects a business’s bottom line. A broken supply chain means no revenue and may even result in a loss of clients.
Even with careful planning, it’s realistic to expect some logistical disruptions that require rescheduling or re-sourcing to ensure that the supply chain continues operating smoothly. Therefore, supply chain automation would need to be carefully tested to ensure that it functions properly and meets all those demands.
Because of this, it is best to roll out supply chain automation in phases parallel to your existing processes. That way, its functionality can be observed and tested before replacing the workflow.
Advantages of RPA
Since each link in the supply chain is connected to your business’s bottom line, the advantages of RPA should be seen relative to each part of the chain. Combined, they strengthen governance, making your entire operation run more cohesively.
Automating work orders and tracking them as they’re filled is a prime example of how RPA frees up human capital to deal with parts of the process that require human contact. Here are the advantages of automation in data gathering and work order generation:
- Reduction of human error
- Reduction of employee stress and improved employee morale
- Increased efficiency
- Seamless integration of data
Packaging and Shipping
Automating packaging and shipping has its advantages:
- Consistency and reliability
Tracking shipments and deliveries is one of the easiest things to automate. The benefits and advantages justify any investment required.
- Real-time data on shipping and delivery
- Prompt attention to any errors, delays, or damage
- Increased customer satisfaction
Inventory and Stock-Taking
A crucial part of supply chain management is making sure you can fill orders without running out of stock. Additionally, this is an area where you can leverage automation to provide predictive analysis of consumer trends and demands. The benefits are numerous, but here are a few:
- Better coordination between production and shipping, resulting in enhanced productivity
- Efficient inventory management
- Predictive analysis of consumer trends and demands
Reaping the Benefits
RPA is a non-invasive solution for automating supply chain management. Its low technical barrier makes it relatively easy to implement and maintain. eCapital Advisors offers services for consultation and implementation of professional RPA solutions. Schedule a consultation appointment and explore our advisory services today.