In a report about the impact of COVID-19 on logistics, the International Finance Corporation finds that, “the cost of logistics as a percentage of GDP can be up to 25 percent in some developing economies…Better efficiency in the sector can, therefore, boost competitiveness and stimulate economic growth in emerging markets.”1
This search for ‘better efficiency’ has been a hard one. It is here that logistics players are seeing immense value in Robotic Process Automation (RPA).
RPA is the deployment and management of software robots to do repetitive tasks by mimicking human actions. For instance, a logistics company processes thousands of orders each day. This involves multiple steps such as order bidding, segregating orders, verifying details, scheduling, confirmation, etc. These can be a series of repetitive and rule-based tasks ripe for RPA.
In the logistics industry, especially, this can improve efficiencies significantly. Here’s how.
Do you need to send reminders? Update new information on multiple platforms? Check if compliances are up to date? Autofill forms? Collect and process documents? A good RPA tool can automate all these processes and more.
In fact, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of our clients faced difficulty in invoice processing and collections. Their process was that the client’s customers post invoices on internal/third-party vendor portals. To check the status of each invoice, the client’s staff had to visit each website/portal manually. This was time-consuming and led to a large amount of Daily Sales Outstanding (DSO), impacting the client’s cash flow. You can read more about how RPA helped the client in this case study.
An important part of running any enterprise is ensuring they have the resources for business continuity. This means knowing ahead of time when the stock is running out and performing necessary tasks to prevent it from happening.
RPA can take care of this autonomously. Since companies have a uniform process to initiate purchase orders, this part of the business is perfect for automation. An RPA tool can monitor the stock situation, raise alerts when it falls below pre-determined levels, automatically raise purchase orders and email them to the corresponding vendor.
Every enterprise uses a wide range of tools and software for their everyday activity, such as ERP, CRM, stock management, fleet management, finance, accounting, invoice processing, vendor management, etc. Each of these tools holds specific information about the task they are performing. This causes two distinct problems:
A good RPA tool can solve both these problems. It can regularly evaluate if all the systems have the same updated information. It can either raise alerts to invite vendors/staff to update information. Or automatically update information across all platforms based on the single source of truth.
In addition, RPA can be a fantastic tool to consolidate information from across sources to enable analytics and dashboards. In the process, RPA can also be used to clean data.
Logistics companies are often liable for both internal and external compliances. Depending on the kind of products they transport, the number of compliances for each truckload can run into hundreds. This includes internal quality checks, local/national/international regulations, customs, health and safety measures, and so on. Today, most enterprises manage this compliance manually, taking up significant time, causing delays and inefficiencies.
A good RPA tool can take care of filling forms, collecting documents, filing proofs, identifying errors, and sending reminders for signatures without any manual intervention at all. This not only eliminates the bottleneck of the number of orders a company can manage in a day, it also dramatically reduces the loss of revenue due to errors or incomplete compliance filings.
As the logistics industry is reinventing itself for the post-pandemic world, digital transformation is growing to be extremely important. For the logistics industry, RPA has the potential to supercharge digital initiatives, accelerating outcomes and eliminating inefficiencies instantly.
Learn how AssistEdge can help transform processes across the logistics value chain.