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Reliable order management in the manufacturing industry with RPA

Order management in the manufacturing industry is a complex and challenging process. Companies in this sector have to deal with numerous suppliers of parts. The availability of materials changes regularly, so orders have to be rescheduled. In addition, the demands made by customers are constantly increasing. They want shorter delivery times, higher flexibility and customer-oriented solutions. How do you deal with this as COO/Process Manager?

Traditional systems generally provide a good picture of the internal processes. But they are less able to visualize the entire chain. Despite the digital transformation that has been going on for years, a lot of manual work still takes place in order management. Much crucial information about an order is hidden somewhere in a drawer with paper receipts, in mail files and Excel sheets. This way of working is impractical and very error-prone.

Move thousands of order lines

Peaks and troughs in the economy cause many fluctuations in supply and demand: from raw materials and materials to end products. Unfortunately, processes in many manufacturing companies are not flexible enough to accommodate those changes. While companies in the manufacturing industry quickly have to deal with thousands of order lines per week that have to be moved. Many companies that have the misfortune of not being able to automatically incorporate these changes in their process will have to make these adjustments manually. This leads to a lot of repetitive, boring work. This is not only frustrating for the employees, it also leads to new errors. As a result, orders are still delivered late or incorrectly. This then has to be repaired manually. This creates a negative downward spiral. It would be ideal if these changes were implemented with robotic process automation, so that employees can spend their time and energy on things that are more meaningful to them in the company.

Elephant trails

How do teams in the manufacturing industry deal with this problem? Some of the teams will come up with their own solutions. The major disadvantage of this is that these elephant trails take place unchecked, outside the system. For example, it can happen that a part that has been reserved by one employee is taken off the shelf by another employee. And is used for a different end product for a different customer than for which that part was reserved. This only shifts the problem, rather than solves it. In short, people create their own working method, resulting in a fragmented process in which people work at odds with each other. As COO/Process Manager you will not be happy with this: after all, you are ultimately responsible for this process.

The search for a structural solution

It is logical that Process Managers look for a structural solution to gain complete control and overview. A solution that allows them and their teams to achieve their targets without stress and to constantly optimize processes. One option is to update the old system to a new system that can forecast properly and implement changes automatically. However, such a drastic change in the heart of the organization entails risks. If you, as a Process Manager, would opt for this, the question is whether you will get the rest of the Management Team along.

Insight into processes

Another solution is to analyze the data of all types of actions that employees perform: Process Mining. With this technique you get a visual representation of the unnecessary steps and bottlenecks. You can see which employees and teams use elephant paths, where they do that and how many of those paths are involved. This way you immediately see where you can improve and save on costs. Such an analysis is also very useful to create awareness about the way in which work is done. You use it to create support for making improvements.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA)

Now that you know exactly where the bottlenecks are, you can solve them with Robotic Process Automation (RPA). This is a commonly used technique within Intelligent Process Automation. A software robot, or bot, performs repetitive manual actions. Unlike a human, a robot is able to do this 24/7/365 at a very fast pace. Without making mistakes or finding the work boring or frustrating! In addition, a robot carries out its work in a structured way, exactly as it is programmed. Without being tempted to choose alternative routes.

Combination solution

The combination solution of Process Mining and RPA can be implemented quickly and without risk. Process Mining software uses the existing data in your ERP or CRM system. Intelligent filters in the Process Mining software perform analyzes precisely tailored to your research question. The software robot can be realized with low code within a short time (within one to a few months!) at low costs. The built applications seamlessly connect to the processes within your organization. The return is high: the ROI is only a few months! RPA therefore helps you to get employees on board to optimize the process. You empower them by letting them do what they are really good at!

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