The UK Manufacturing sector contributes 25% of GDP, is responsible for 45% of UK exports (£285BN) and employs 2.7 million people (Source: ONS). In the USA, 248,039 Manufacturers contribute 11.39% of total output, with 12.8M employees contributing $2.334TN to the economy (Source; National Association of Manufacturers of the USA).
Broadly, sub-verticals in Manufacturing include-
- Process Industries.
- Consumer Packaged Goods.
- Industrial Automation.
As we are moving into a world of digital transformation, automation is taking root in important sectors, including in the manufacturing industry. There is a growing number of technologies available in the market when it comes to automation, so how can one decide what to incorporate into their manufacturing business with the aim of maintaining, or even increasing, profit?
Below we discuss one such technology, RPA (Robotic Process Automation), and why it is becoming more vital for the manufacturing industry, and how it can benefit your business.
RPA Influencing The Manufacturing Industry
RPA is growing in popularity and industries are now realising the potential in this technology, so much so that RPA has grown into a billion-dollar part of Enterprise Software. Forrester predicts that spending on RPA software will hit a total of $2.9 billion in 2021. So what is it that makes RPA such an important technology?
According to Gallup, US companies lose $450 to $550 billion per year in wasted productivity due to disengaged employees. Factors such as this have resulted in inefficiency and a reduction in the profitability in the market. Shortages in skilled labour compound this.
A company’s ability to be profitable does not necessarily increase in line with an increasing number of employees. The key to (at least) maintaining profit, lies with the company providing excellent goods/services to customers and maintaining trust with suppliers, usually through excellent time keeping. Based on the American Psychological Association report, companies across sectors lost approximately $500 billion because of workplace stress. The manufacturing sector faces changing regulations and compliance measures in the areas from finance and health & safety to waste management and maintenance.
How The Manufacturing Industry Can Benefit From RPA
- Automation within back-office tasks such as emails, finance, HR automation, etc.
- Monitoring front-end customer services and company data in real-time with automated report generation, chatbots etc.
- Automating tasks such as billing processes, calculating the number of sales, taking orders, etc.
- Perhaps most significantly, predictive maintenance in machines; AI in the Manufacturing market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 57.2% YOY from $1.1BN in 2020 to reach $16.7BN by 2026 (Source: Markets and Markets). In order for organisations to derive ROI from predictive maintenance, there is huge scope to fuse AI with RPA, in order to automate follow-up processes, such as parts ordering, booking of engineers etc.
Demanding processes within the manufacturing industry traditionally required more hiring, which meant more spending on the recruitment process and more time spent on HR processes (e.g. reviewing resumes, scheduling interviews, processing paperwork and inputting employee data into the relevant systems).
But thanks to RPA, the manufacturing industry now possesses an alternative to just employing more people. As Digital Workers can be used to complete the more mundane and boring tasks and maintain these processes with little human intervention. However, for the tasks that cannot be completed by robots and hiring is still required, the HR processes require less time and can be completed more easily with the help of robots.
RPA can take control of many back-office processes, as well as those on the factory floor itself. When such methods are performed by humans, there is room for errors, which can make the processes inefficient. But when RPA is implemented, these tasks take less time to execute and can be 100% accurate.
But more generally, the Digital Workers can monitor the customer demand, production capacity and inventory levels in real-time which means the company can be more efficient, reduce costs, and enhance communications among suppliers & customers to ensure optimum levels of cost, employment and profit.