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RPA in Manufacturing - 6 Examples of Successful Real-World Applications

RPA in Manufacturing - 6 Examples

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) helps manufacturing companies improve productivity, enhance quality, and save costs, among other benefits. All over the world, manufacturers are embracing this automation technology in various facets of their companies and seeing great results. That's not surprising, since RPA helps to eliminate the 8 wastes of lean.

In this article, we will highlight 6 successful case studies of RPA in manufacturing with examples from various countries, covering companies that manufacture a variety of different products. Check out how these companies made use of RPA to boost productivity:

RPA Manufacturing Example 1 - MAS Holdings

RPA Manufacturing Example #1 - MAS Holdings, South Asian apparel and textile manufacturer

MAS Holdings’ automation story began with a small proof of concept (PoC) to automate the labour order placement process.

The PoC demonstrated the business value that Robotic Process Automation (RPA) could bring, as well as how simple and implementable the RPA solution can be. This encouraged the team to look for more automation opportunities, which then turned into an enterprise-wide implementation.

To give an idea of how much the company has now automated: They have grown from having just 7 processes automated in 2017 to having 52 processes automated in 2021. These processes are mostly SAP-based and range widely from product development and procurement to shipping and commercial.

Here are some notable examples of RPA use cases in the company:

  • PO Creation: If the purchase order (PO) doesn’t go out on time, goods delivery will be delayed, and production capacity will remain idle, causing a productivity loss. The company saved 2,500 man-days with RPA while achieving on-time delivery and superior accuracy.

  • Advanced Shipping Notes (ASN) Generation: Automating the generation of ASNs enables the company to meet its delivery timeline and to free up employees for more productive tasks.

  • Product Development: Automation has slashed the time needed to fetch the required information and to convert it into internal formats. RPA also helps to optimize the scheduling of people and their time.

RPA Benefits:

  • 14,000 man-days saved annually

  • Superior accuracy

  • On-time deliveries

RPA Manufacturing Example 2 - Coke Canada Bottling

RPA Manufacturing Example #2 - Coke Canada Bottling

The people at Coke Canada Bottling realised that, rather than continuously refining workflows to seek perfection, they could create immediate value by automating the processes using Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

Also, instead of working on integrations that could take more than a year to complete, they can now achieve the same objectives with RPA bots developed in 6 weeks. Sometimes, RPA serves as an immediate solution while an integration-based approach is being developed, but other times, it eliminates the need for such integration altogether—“It's not a band-aid, but it's actually a bridge or a true solution.”

Here are some notable examples of RPA use cases in the company:

  • Uploading forms for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulatory compliance

  • Automating product sampling requests, which need to be tracked for accounting purposes. The volume for this process is about 100 per day, and each process takes over 8 minutes of manual processing. With RPA, it takes just 30 seconds, saving some 1,600 hours a month.

RPA Benefits:

  • 7,500 hours saved a month

  • Quick deployment arising in quick solutions and eliminating lengthy integrations

  • Freeing up employees for more productive tasks

RPA Manufacturing Example 3 - Eastman Chemical

RPA Manufacturing Example #3 - Eastman Chemical

Eastman, a global specialty materials company that produces products such as additives, specialty chemicals, and fibres, wanted to use Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to make processes more efficient and to help save costs.

The company first used RPA in its finance groups, in areas where employees were using Excel to process large amounts of data. With automation, RPA bots extracted data in bulk and uploaded information straight into spreadsheets, sparing employees from doing these tedious, error-prone tasks.

Following its initial success in finance, the company then expanded the use of RPA to its supply chain group and procurement.

Now, the company has 120 bots in production, and 10 groups are using RPA in their daily work. Processes automated with RPA include HR, Accounting, Procurement, Supply Chain, Data Processing, and more.

RPA benefits: 20,000+ Hours saved annually

Are you inspired yet? If you've seen enough success stories and want more ideas to help you get started with brainstorming, check out these 39 Manufacturing RPA Use Cases we've put together for you.

RPA Manufacturing Example 4 - Schneider Electric

RPA Manufacturing Example #4 -Schneider Electric Europe

Schneider Electric—a company providing energy and automation digital solutions for homes, buildings, data centres, infrastructure, and industries—has a strong culture of lean management. So, one of the company’s objectives is to eliminate tasks with no added value — i.e. eliminating waste, in lean manufacturing terms. They want to empower employees, make them self-sufficient, and refocus them on core activities geared towards customer satisfaction.

Here are a few examples of how Schneider Electric has made use of RPA:

  • Eliminating repetitive document preparation for operators

At one of Schneider Electric’s industrial sites, dedicated workers used to have to prepare and print documents for operators who install electrical switchboards at client premises. The work to prepare these documents (manufacturing specifications of switchboards, and labels identifying electrical circuits and circuit breakers) is tedious, time consuming, and provides no added value. With RPA, a robot—which was developed in just 2½ days—opens and prints these documents as needed, freeing up 2 employees.

  • Speeding up flows in the midst of a health crisis

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, a new supply chain was put in place to supply Schneider Electric’s different sites in Europe with personal protective equipment (PPE) from an international distribution centre. Because this new centre was not linked via ERP, the order processing was manual and time-consuming, taking up one person’s workload. With the help of RPA, order processing time was reduced from 4 hours to 2 minutes, and errors, if any, are flagged quickly.

RPA benefits:

  • Eliminate lean manufacturing wastes

  • Quick deployment

  • 99% reduction in time taken

  • Employees freed up to focus on more value-adding tasks

RPA Manufacturing Example 5 - Amber Beverage Group

RPA Manufacturing Example #5 - Amber Beverage Group

Amber Beverage Group (ABG), a producer, distributor, exporter, and retailer of beverages, automated some 10 key processes with Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Most of these processes involved Outlook, Excel, and the company’s ERP system.

Before automation, frequent, repetitive, manual tasks were routinely disrupting the workdays of both team members and management. For example, approvals of purchase orders (POs) can involve many levels of management staff depending on the amount, and each of these employees would need to log in to the ERP system on their computer—multiple times a day—to approve the PO.

This cumbersome process of PO approval was one of the processes that the company streamlined with RPA technology. Here are some of the tasks performed by the RPA bots for this particular process:

  • Check for new POs and send an email to the approver with an “Approve” and “Reject” button so he/she can approve or reject literally with a click of a button.

  • Update the ERP with the approve/reject response.

  • Keep track of the statuses of open POs and update the order creators.

  • Send reminders to approvers who have not responded after a set amount of time and check for any failed processes.

RPA benefits:

  • Fewer disruptions in the workday, allowing employees to focus on the strategic and creative aspects of their work.

  • Increased employee efficiency

  • Improved customer service

RPA Manufacturing Example 6 - Nouryon

RPA Manufacturing Example #6 - Chemical company Nouryon

Nouryon, a chemicals company owned by private equity company Carlyle and Singapore Sovereign Wealth Fund GIC, provides essential chemicals in the manufacturing of paper, plastics, building materials, and more. To enable the business to do more with its resources, the company turned to Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to automate the following processes:

  • Intercompany reconciliation between its 120 legal entities. RPA helps cut down the time spent on this time-consuming matching process. The company can now also centralize the process in one department instead of in many local entities.

  • Employee data consolidation, which originally involved 45 minutes of work every day, manually combining information from 2 databases using an Excel spreadsheet.

  • IT Compliance controls to check system changes made by hundreds of IT staff, contractors, and vendors. With RPA, the company can do the check on-demand rather than on an annual basis only. This improved compliance and eliminated errors that could cause problems for the company.

RPA benefits:

  • 100% IT Compliance accuracy

  • 75% time reduced maintaining employee database

The next step in applying RPA in your manufacturing organization

Are you inspired by these RPA success stories in manufacturing? What’s next?

Check out these 39 Manufacturing RPA Use Cases if you haven't. Then you're ready start identifying and assessing candidate processes.

This free white paper on selecting the right processes for RPA is a good starting point.

Manufacturing operations are no doubt complex and there are, inevitably, processes that are unique to each organization. While the examples presented here are inspiring, in order to begin implementing RPA in your own manufacturing organization, you will need to uncover various automation opportunities unique to your organization.

Most importantly, you will need to be able to assess your candidate processes critically to identify the right processes that are suitable for RPA and will bring your good ROI.

Download the white paper now and get started.


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