September 28, 2022
Logistics is a function that has been around since the early Greek and Roman Empires. During those times, military officers called ‘Logistikas’ were appointed to oversee the supply and allocation of all resources needed for the war. This system has evolved through the Middle Ages, the Industrial Revolution, etc. into the full-fledged Logistics and Supply Chain Industry as we see today. In today’s global economy, it is completely normal to have an organization have its customers and suppliers all over the world.
We are currently undergoing an ‘Automation’ Revolution. Logistics companies have started incorporating Robotic Process Automation (RPA) into their daily functions to improve their operational efficiencies and supply chain. Investopedia defines RPA as software that can be programmed to perform repetitive and manual functions that currently required human beings to do. According to a report by World Economic Forum, there is $1.5 trillion of value for players in the logistic industry and a further $2.4 trillion worth of societal benefits as a result of digital transformation of the industry up until 2025.
What functions can be Automated?
Scheduling and Tracking
One of the primary functions of an organization in the Logistics Industry is to schedule and track their outgoing and incoming shipments. This can be quite time consuming due to the large volumes of data, the menial nature of the data-entries, and the proneness to mistakes.
RPA can be used to automate aspects like reading emails to extract shipping details, posting/retrieving information on ERP systems, updating necessary channels, etc. RPA software have the capability to read emails, invoices, purchase orders, shipment documents, delivery documents, etc. and update the necessary platforms.
It is imperative for Logistics companies to sufficiently monitor and maintain their inventory levels in their warehouses and docks to manage customer satisfaction. RPA software can be used to monitor these levels and send out automatic email notifications when there is a difference in inventory levels from SLA.
Invoice Processing and Reconciliations
Logistics and Supply Chain Companies are regularly swamped with their finance activities like invoice creation, invoice posting, and reconciliation between different portals. Often, these functions are highly menial in nature, and do not need routine human brainpower. They can also be exceedingly time-consuming. A study by Aberdeen Group suggests that it takes anywhere from 4.1 to 16.3 days to process an invoice end-to-end.
RPA has the ability to read different templates from suppliers/customers and extract information from them, post them onto required platforms, and send updates to concerned parties. RPA is also widely being used in the reconciliation section, like bank reconciliation and invoice reconciliations.
Reporting is one such function that serves as a primary ingredient in decision making. Logistics companies use reports from departments like procurement, inventory, tracking, finance, HR, etc. to make informed decisions on the future of the organization. RPA can assist in creating reports following a standard format but extracting, compiling, and comparing data to provide findings.
Prospects for the Logistic Industry
The nature of the Logistics and Supply Chain Industry provides a lot of opportunity for organizations to streamline their processes and increase their profitability using RPA. Logistics Leaders have already started implementing RPA in their undertakings. This ensures smooth functioning not only for organizations, but also their customers and suppliers. Unquestionably, the Logistics Industry is going to thrive by incorporating RPA.
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