Ever since the pandemic hit the global market, many businesses are increasingly relying on automation technologies to operate at a faster pace. Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and other advanced automation tools are allowing businesses to automate complex processes and achieve better business outcomes.
Supply chain operations are no exception. A range of tasks, including but not limited to order processing, invoicing, warehousing, receiving/shipping/delivery, bill-of-lading, and handling shipment status across multiple platforms can be effectively automated to optimize processing time, operational costs, and reduce human errors.
Intelligent Automation, i.e., combining the set of advanced automation tools to automate the end-to-end process, is set to transform the future of the supply chain.
According to IBM’s recent report, “Forty-six percent of supply chain executives anticipate that AI/cognitive computing and cloud applications will be their greatest areas of investment in digital operations over the next three years.”
Intelligent automation can help companies build an autonomous, agile, flexible, scalable, and responsive supply chain. The adoption of intelligent automation technologies is already growing rapidly. According to Deloitte, the automation sector is expanding at a CAGR of 40.6% per year and is likely to touch $25.66 billion by 2027.
Let us take a closer look at what is intelligent automation, and how it can help businesses in reshaping the supply chain future.
Definition of Intelligent Automation
Intelligent Automation combines a set of automation tools to enable end-to-end automation. It starts with RPA (where software Bots execute rule-based, manual tasks in a human-like fashion) and adds more advanced technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, and business process management to automate a process from beginning till the end.
Autonomous Supply Chain
Supply chain processes require high human involvement to manage several operations manually. Manual processes create gaps and vulnerabilities within supply chains and make it challenging for businesses to scale at a faster pace.
- Need for transparency and visibility across the value chain
- Real-time insights for making agile and decisive actions
- Ability to forecast demand patterns well in advance
- Better collaboration with partners for speed to market
- Complex processes and technology landscape leading to longer lead times
- Manual processes are highly labor-intensive, time-consuming, and error-prone
- Poor quality data costs millions; incorrect or outdated data leads to poor business decisions, ineffective operations, and significant opportunity costs
- Lack of transparency and appropriate governance standards increase the risks significantly
- A laidback attitude towards automation slows down the transformative initiative
Companies are turning to automated systems that offer opportunities to accelerate innovation, improve revenue, and enhance customer experiences. By deploying intelligent automation, companies can revisit and improve operating models and scale rapidly.
Transforming the Supply Chain through Intelligent Automation
Intelligent automation is the future of supply chain management. It primarily combines RPA, several forms of AI, and Business Process Management (BPM) tools to create an autonomous supply chain or an intelligent supply chain for you.
Let us look at examples of supply chain processes that can be automated using intelligent automation. These include:
- Data transfers between disparate systems, such as migrating data from emails, PDFs, or any file into an ERP or financial system
- Accurate quality checks and paperwork sign-off before shipping
- Automated record handling for freight management
- Record-keeping and regulatory compliance
- Digitization of all international shipping documents
- Accurate digitization of historical shipping records in the company
There are several tasks in the supply chain framework that require manual paperwork. With intelligent automation, this dependency is brought to the minimum. It allows companies to set new benchmarks in efficiency while accelerating the entire process.
Benefits of Supply Chain Automation
The benefits of intelligent automation in supply chain management are long-lasting and far-reaching:
- Greater Accuracy: Generally, data error rates range from 1-5% in business databases. By deploying intelligent automation, companies can eliminate human errors associated with manual data entry. The risk of making faulty decisions and missed opportunities can be avoided.
- Better Resource Utilization: Mundane and repetitive tasks can be automated, and highly qualified resources can be channelized for high-value tasks. Automation improves overall efficiency and provides an opportunity for better resource utilization.
- Enhanced Process Efficiency: Once automated, a process runs 24/7 without any breaks. RPA bots can be scheduled on-demand as well.
- Improved End-to-End Process Visibility: With intelligent automation, there is a significant improvement in end-to-end process visibility. Every system and process remain within sight, improving transparency and scope for continuous improvement.
As your business expands and you collaborate with more suppliers, your company’s supply chain will become more complex, and so you will need more robust and intelligent systems to build an autonomous supply chain. Start evaluating which manual processes you can choose to automate. Intelligent automation will help you close gaps, improve visibility, thwart errors, and save time and cost across your supply chain.
One such company that is at the forefront of intelligent automation is Nividous. They have helped several companies to switch to intelligent automation from siloed automation. Are you keen to see how supply chain automation works on the Nividous platform? Request a Free Demo customized to your needs.
Learn more about the possibilities of intelligent automation in the supply chain through this complimentary Gartner Report showcasing the latest insights and trends.