In these particularly challenging times, business operations are being disrupted in unprecedented ways. Amid extreme and sudden changes in supply and demand, manufacturers are putting together action plans and recovery initiatives to manage the current pandemic crisis, and they’re looking to automation to help lighten the load.

As an industry heavily reliant on dependable processes, manufacturing is primed with opportunities for robotic process automation (RPA), which delivers huge gains in efficiency. These use cases discuss RPA and its uses specific to manufacturing, outlining four common solutions the technology is supplying the industry.

  1. Data Migration

As manufacturers see widespread adoption of IoT equipment, upgrading legacy systems is inevitable. But that is no small feat. Luckily, it is a perfect use case for RPA.

Legacy systems often aren’t easily capable of sharing data with other systems. Custom interfaces must be built to allow the transformation of data before it is loaded into the new system. But because RPA bots can work independent of APIs, RPA acts as an intermediary between new and old systems, efficiently integrating the applications. What’s more, bots can be programmed to monitor the migration along the way, flagging and correcting any inconsistencies in real time. This saves time and money on auditing with precise, error-free results.

2. Secure Proof of Deliveries (PODs)

PODs are a critical component to customer service, but they can also be a tremendous drain on resources, leading to errors, delays, and an increase in days sales outstanding (DSO). It’s a tedious process that is time-intensive and high-risk for human error. With RPA, bots can regularly query carrier tracking systems and link the shipping data to the original orders in warehouse management systems—all without human assistance.

This relieves employees of time-consuming tracking work, freeing them to do more direct customer service and other important tasks. It also improves response times and DSO metrics and supports strong, consistent cash flow.

3. CRM and Sales Order Integration

Sales order integration is another common area RPA is helping manufacturers (and really businesses in general). It’s no secret that sales staff are usually quite skilled at selling. Their work depends on relationship building and constructive communication—activities in which humans excel. But there is often much more involved with the sales process than just the sale itself. There are estimates, product availability, order processing, fulfillments, logistics and more. Sometimes, these tasks are further complicated by being completed in different departments. Either way, the sales cycle can be a challenging process with hang-ups and headaches.

With RPA, you can allow your people to perform work aligned to their unique skills, while bots automate the rest of it. Once the salesperson enters their prospecting opportunities into the CRM, the bot can take the info from there, checking pricing, cross-referencing other software for product availability, auto-generating quotes and shipping times, and more. Once an order is approved, the bot can extract and validate sales order data and send it downstream to other systems to optimize the entire sales lifecycle. All the while, people continue to do their best work, generating leads, building relationships and selling products.

4. Regulatory Compliance

The world is a rapidly changing place. And in manufacturing, that unfortunately means changing compliance requirements. From safety protocols to individual product regulations, regulatory compliance is a part of the industry. RPA simplifies the process, providing accurate data processing, detailed records in the event of an audit, and real-time monitoring of all bot activities. And because the technology is rules-based, it can be updated at any time to comply with new regulations.

These are just a few of the most common applications we see with RPA. And it’s important to understand that the technology is only just the beginning of process optimization. As the foundation for process mining and process intelligence, the potential of RPA—and its ROI—truly becomes limitless.