Industries are consistently taking advantage of evolving technology to optimize processes and remain competitive in their fields. Automation is a common technological trend seen across a multitude of industries – including manufacturing. Robotic process automation is one such advancement, often utilized in manufacturing to complete mundane tasks with precision, allowing human talent to focus on complex processes.
Below, we explore robotic process automation and its role within manufacturing in detail, beginning with a definition of the technology itself.
What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?
Robotic process automation is the action of using software to automate manual tasks in place of employees. These tasks often include repetitive steps within a linear workflow. However, as robotic process automation has evolved over the decades, RPA software has been programmed to perform tasks across multiple systems or applications.
Within certain industries, RPA is involved in the mundane processes of transferring, editing, or saving data, freeing employees from these repetitive administrative tasks. In fact, according to BDO USA, the RPA could automate nearly 25% of a CEO’s daily tasks.
Unlike artificial intelligence (AI), RPA does not learn or change based on evaluating the results of actions completed. Alternatively, RPA is utilized to perform simple tasks repeatedly, as required.
In the manufacturing industry, RPA is a powerful tool.
RPA in Manufacturing
Efficiency is important in every industry yet especially critical in manufacturing – during both unprecedented economic turmoil and average economic conditions. RPA in manufacturing typically takes the form of physical industry robots performing critical assembly line tasks in place of employees.
Why is RPA Used in Manufacturing?
One primary way RPA is used in manufacturing is to help companies remain competitive in their field. Clarion Tech explains the tasks required to retain a competitive edge:
They [manufacturers] must reduce costs while enhancing overall effectiveness like customer responsiveness, honing business, transparency for both regulatory & commercial reasons and business agility. Achieving these objectives not only depends on the core manufacturing activities but also on the proper supporting processes.
Proper supporting processes often include automated assistance, such as RPA. Physical industry robots can address a series of primary challenges faced by the manufacturing industry today.
- Bill of Materials (BOM): the BOM lists all items needed to manufacture products. Of course, this list is often extensive and – when manually compiled – subject to human error. RPA bots can handle the BOM as needed, in real time, ensuring that nothing is forgotten or manufactured incorrectly.
- Compliance: international manufacturers must remain up to date with compliance issues for every country in their global supply chain – a necessary but time-consuming process. RPA software can keep perfect track of compliance requirements by product and country.
- Data Migration: the process of migrating paper files or data stored on an antiquated system to a digital system is time-consuming. RPA software can streamline this process.
- Communication: communication with both existing and prospective clients, as well as employees, is a crucial component of positive customer service and continued business growth. However, maintaining communication can be time-consuming, especially with a remote workforce or multiple locations. Once again, RPA bots can be utilized to automate certain communicatory processes, such as chatbots, language detection, and name recognition.
- Customer Support: as mentioned, excellent customer support is vital to continued business success in any industry. An RPA platform can assist customer service representatives in offering superb customer experience. Clarion Tech again offers insight into the ability of an RPA platform to transform the customer support system:
Deploying RPA platform allows the employees to access data stored on multiple systems at one place… In addition, it can also be used to put a reminder while the salesperson starts following with clients, upholds a contact schedule, and so on. He/she can access multiple stored data in one place, and this enables to serve the customers better.
Benefits of RPA in the Manufacturing Industry
The ability to address the manufacturing industry’s biggest challenges produces a plethora of benefits.
We list some of the most significant benefits of RPA in the manufacturing industry below:
An RPA Can Reduce Costs
While implementing an RPA will require an upfront cost, the long-term savings are significant. However, the ability to optimize the use of human resources saves money. Manual labor, insurance, healthcare, and other benefits are costly. When these mundane, repetitive tasks are accomplished by a robot, human talent is freed to address more critical tasks. Furthermore, an RPA’s ability to continue production overnight without interruptions or down time maximizes production capabilities.
Additionally, utilizing RPAs eliminates human error and wastage. Whenever employees work on a project, there is an expected degree or margin of error. However, in the manufacturing industry, even the slightest miscalculation could result in inventory wastage. In a competitive space, premium quality is necessary. Therefore, an RPA in manufacturing reduces inconsistencies, errors, and inventory wastage.
An RPA is Customizable
RPA bots programmed to perform a certain repetitive task can be customized and adjusted as the process develops or changes. For example, an RPA bot programmed to examine inventory requisitions notes could be adjusted to procure current inventory levels. As your manufacturing company develops or responds to industry advancements, your RPA assistance can adapt.
An RPA Allows for Faster Production Capabilities
RPA bots can complete dozens of tasks with precision in a fraction of manual labor time. Additionally, the memory capacity of an RPA system allows one robot to perform several manufacturing capabilities with accuracy, allowing for faster production capabilities in multiple stages of the manufacturing process.
Human Laborers and RPAs Can Collaborate
The use of RPAs in the manufacturing industry can transform the field, combining human intelligence with unparalleled machine memory. RPAs can collect extensive amounts of data for human decision makers, allowing these decision makers to optimize manufacturing assembly lines based on data-backed insight.
Illinois Pulley & Gear
At Illinois Pulley & Gear, we proudly serve manufactures across the globe with a focus in customer service and quality parts. Our timing belt pulleys and timing pulley stock are completely customizable and made on demand, ready to be integrated into your manufacturing process as needed – allowing us to produce a virtually unlimited variety of parts.