Embracing Automation – RPA Leading the Transformation Agenda
Published on : Saturday 05-12-2020
True vision of Industry 4.0 will be realised when manufacturing enterprises achieve a significant cost efficiency, say Soumya Nandy and Bhaumik Pathak.
Automation in the industry is synonymous with efficiency. But we at ITC Infotech have a clear perspective towards making business processes more robust by delivering enhanced value to Client business through business KPIs led process effectiveness. We don’t stop here…our focus is to drive exceptional Customer/End user experience amplifying the human potential.
The Context: We stand at the cusp of a ‘New Normal’ and ‘New ways of doing Business’. This translates into bringing in Business Agility and Efficiencies into business functions enabling the workforce to conduct their day-to-day activities effectively. There has been a significantly higher digital transformation adoption in the past 6 months than what has been executed in the past 3 years and Technology led by Automation is the leveller.
RPA led automation is a proven value driver in the digital transformation roadmap for organisations. This journey has evolved from focusing on Transactional Systems to more intelligent and self-learning systems. The RPA capability dimensions are redefined in association with Process Mining, BPM, Advanced Analytics, Collaboration Technologies, Industrial Automation, Computer Vision and AI/ML, all emerging into a Hyper Automation capability. If we look at the current addressable Hyper Intelligent Automation (HIA) market, it is estimated at $65Bn in market size and enterprise spend at $4.7Bn. The spend by organisations on HIA is expected to be around $42Bn by 2025 which represents a staggering 55% CAGR.
The Manufacturing sector has an automation potential of 60% using currently available technologies and is second amongst the 19 sectors covered under a study by McKinsey Survey. As per the study, this could save up to $2.7 trillion in labour cost for manufacturers in 46 countries leading to significant enhancement in operational flexibility, responsiveness and consistency. These statistics indicate that automation in the manufacturing sector in the next decade will play a crucial strategic tool to manage growth. (Research Data reference: Zinnov Research and Analytics, McKinsey Study).
The next generation robots are designed to be quite flexible with cognitive abilities and trained co-work with human workers. The manufacturing industry workforce in future will have a combination of robots and operators on the shop floor and employees complimented with digital assistants in offices. This augmentation and co-existence of physical and digital workforce will also transform the future skill set requirement. The demand for reusable skills like Emotional, Resilience, Adaptive Leadership will increase while that of Cognitive, Physical and Manual skills like data entry and processing, operations, reporting, information reconciliation will reduce drastically. The Automation Continuum will evolve from transactional task automation to an experience-led value driver for a truly ‘Digital Workplace of the Future’.
Process automation in Industry 4.0 leading transformation
Competitive edge is no longer dependent on privileged access to technology or path dependent maturity curve, but on the organisation’s ability to quickly incorporate new technologies to improve internal processes and adapt to ever-changing customer demands. Value of Industry 4.0 transformations are augmented with help of process automation-based transformations.
Roadmap of Industry 4.0 led transformations to achieve seamless connected machines, production processes and control systems begin with scanning at existing digitalisation level, automation level and rule inference engine. To create a truly digital enterprise, it needs to be driven by information from a very diverse set of integrated networks of systems across the value stream and process automation is the enabler for a seamless connected digital factory.
a. The Intelligent automation play
Industry 4.0 implementation is often followed by digitalisation maturity assessment. A simple use case involves prerequisite system changes complementing the new workflow or new business model. As observed in many cases, process automation can substantially optimise the processing time and defer cumbersome, cost intensive system modifications.
One of the use cases involved implementation of high-resolution cameras to capture vehicle number plates. Instead of performing post facto analysis of the image data, a cognitive bot with OCR capabilities can identify real time mismatches. The bot uses a scanned image of the vehicle, identifies the correct vehicle number, matches it with ERP system entry and notifies security agent in case of a detected mismatch. This approval workflow is streamlined using Industrial IoT solutions coupled with cognitive process automation.
b. Automation as an enabler for basic analytics
Once the relationship of data sources and data points is established from interconnected systems, insights are derived for intelligent decision making. This information is consumed for basic analytics to define the optimal dependent variables, training models and equip process bots to simulate human interaction and behaviour to automate the task by working 24x7 error free. Basic analytics, threshold and benchmark validations are often rule based jobs (not requiring higher cognition) that can be automated through process bots. A daily scheduled bot can extract fill rate and cycle data from SCADA system, create production volume and add the entry into operations log. The same bot identifies delta (for variance sheet) by comparing and analysing historical operations log.
c. Amplifying human potential
Evolving nature of work and technology enablement go hand in hand. Technology allows expert problem solvers to conceive, sense and solve problems that competitors don’t even know exist. This requires more expert problem solvers in organisation with years of experience. Thanks to digital worker implementation, the learning curve of human workers is negotiated.
Digital worker performs rule based complex system interactions; whether it is about entries in ERP, request submission and approval, extracting data from various systems to create periodic reports or about understanding trends and insight from available data. These bots enable human workers to focus on more meaningful work – like identifying gaps, understanding insights to take actions, and need generation for more insights instead of spending time on mundane, routine tasks.
How is the industry poised?
When we look at the current technology horizons and industry adoption of RPA, the adoption of automation is not at RPA based automation, but it is RPA + Industry 4.0. A perspective on the new technology enablers for automation driving business agility are:
Automation and IIoT – RPA and IIoT can act as an agent for capturing new business matrices and data points to manage exemplary experience and insights to the stakeholders. For example, during the current pandemic situation customer service related to product movement across the supply chain is of great value considering supply chain traceability. The IoT devices capture the information about the product location and the RPA brings in the information in a clear and consumable fashion to the representatives.
Automation and Data Analytics – Organisations today are looking at managing data discrepancies, monitoring data quality and manipulating data for business relevant information collected from multiple and variety of data sources to drive customer centric business value. E.g. Customer Satisfaction index, Customer feedback, Loyalty etc.
Automation + AI/ML – RPA lays the foundation to enable and drive enterprise AI strategy. Data cleansing, data collection and data consolidation can be achieved with help of RPA automation. AI and ML requires enabler agents to train the model, simulate correctness of statistical models and this can be leveraged in a faster way by RPA.
Automation and Blockchain – The advancement in the new age technology and business models focusing on provenance leads to creating a platform where the end-point information extraction and integration with the workflow data. The robots are taught to extract the correct information needed to feed the systems in the entire supply chain.
Automation + Cloud – Due to Covid situation, enterprise cloud strategy has become more aggressive than before. Automation comes in a healthy way to achieve this transformation. Right from migrating on premise to cloud – predefined RPA workflows provide great value. In managing cloud workflows, monitoring and refreshing – RPA workflows are found to be very useful.
Solving culture problem with a Digital Persona
Successful Industry 4.0 transformations are 20% technology and 80% people. Happy worker is the core of any successful enterprise. Automation strategy defined by a value lever of improvement in employee experience addresses this culture issue. The excerpt of the Production Planner Digital Persona is illustrated in the small table in this article.
The Production Planner plays a critical direct role in the Plan and the Make phase and an indirect role in the Market and Sell phases in the Business Capability framework. His/her key responsibilities lie in ensuring efficient and risk-free operations and implementation of new industrial techniques at the plant, coordinate workflows for one or more products, planning and prioritising operations for maximum efficiency, enforcing quality control measures and minimising wastage.
Keeping the criticality of end user bandwidth in mind, the following Production Planner persona construct complements the day-in-life activities with digital skill sets (see Fig 2).
True vision of Industry 4.0 will be realised when manufacturing enterprises achieve a significant cost efficiency not only due to economies of scale and scope but also due to autonomous operations, smart and real time decision making and realised flexibility. Enterprise automation strategy becomes pivotal in Industry 4.0 led transformation and augments overall value and shorten the transformation time.
Soumya Nandy is a Senior Principal Consultant with ITC Infotech’s Global Business Consulting Group. With a work experience of 18+ years in Consulting and Digital Transformation, he has led high-profile transformation engagements with domain expertise in Retail, CPG, Automotive Retail, Healthcare, Manufacturing and Telecom. His interests are in building New Organisation Capabilities, leading Co-creation workshops, Product & Program Management, building High Performance Teams driving Business Agility and Customer Centricity.
Soumya holds a Master’s in Business Administration (Information Technology) from ITM-B and is a certified professional in driving Systemic Innovation and Design Thinking. He loves to interact with the student community and coaching them on new skill development, industry capabilities and consulting practices.
Bhaumik Pathak is a Senior Consulting expert on digital strategy and business transformation leveraging adaptive technologies. He has work experience in a wide range of industries including Energy, Utilities, Mining, Aviation, and Banking brings useful skills in strategy consulting, operations consulting, technology consulting and public sector consulting. He has served as a key stakeholder for a business transformation project for a client’s strategic mining unit to achieve never reached production efficiency under threat of closure of Asia’s biggest surface mine by implanting Industrial IoT on a large scale.
Bhaumik has completed MBA from IIM Bangalore and B.E in Computer Science from DDU. He has delivered a speech @ Tedx Seoul, South Korea, 2019 on the topic "digital business model and methods used by different start up to scale". He has also delivered a keynote in Open Group’s Mumbai event in 2019 on a topic of human centric digital assistants.
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