In the previous article, we covered the definition of RPA(Robotics Process Automation) and how to validate and qualify a process for RPA. As part of the series of articles demonstrating the need and use of RPA in various industries, in this article, we will cover the use of RPA in the logistics and supply chain industry. 

According to the article published by the World Economic Forum “There is $1.5 trillion of value at stake for logistics players and a further $2.4 trillion worth of societal benefits as a result of the digital transformation of the industry up until 2025. More significantly, digital platforms will become increasingly important in the logistics industry, allowing small companies to have a global reach and compete with the sector’s established giants. Over the next few years, the race to build a dominant global platform will transform the customer’s experience of logistics. It will be the central issue in determining which enterprises will be the winners and losers in a truly digital logistics industry.”

So considering what we read above, the next question that comes to our mind is how Robotics Process Automation can contribute to help the logistics industry stay ahead in the race of the digital revolution. Let’s answer this question by reviewing how logistics and transportation processes qualify for RPA and how this digitally transforms operations in logistics.

Before we start, let’s briefly recap the criteria to qualify a process for the RPA.

  • Repetitive process.
  • High volume process.
  • And a rule-based process with minimum exceptions.

Logistics & Transportation Processes that qualify for RPA

Customer On-Boarding Process

New Customer onboarding is one of the most common activities in any industry and also in Logistics & transportation. Although this process differs in its way for every industry, some of the essential steps apply here as well. These include updating customers’ information in the system, checking and scanning all required documentation, validating & verifying information, credit check, and final approval. 

RPA could perform tasks such as updating customer information in the system, verifying customer information against the acceptable documentation, reading & validating data on credit check documents, and finally sending automated approval/denial email to the customers. Some of these tasks may need to perform Attended RPA (automation that requires some level of human intervention to initiate or trigger actions). But overall, it would help save more than 50% of human effort and time. 

Shipment Quote Approval Process

Customer service representative spends a lot of their daily time processing the quote requests. Quote requests could be received either by online web form, email, or phone calls. The steps involved in reviewing the quote requests are standard, rule-based, repetitive, and with minimum exceptions. Bots can quickly parse the information received through email or web form, identify the rates from the tariff, and generate a quote that can be delivered to prospects through an email. The system could create alerts when the requests do not auto-match the tariff and hence need human intervention. 

Shipment Pick up and Scheduling Process

Once the shipment is created, the process to schedule a pickup and communicate between the stations, driver, and customer, for the most part, is straight forward and standard with minimum exceptions. This process can be tedious and time-consuming when done manually. Such a process is meant to be automated and managed by software bots to increase efficiency and timeliness of the process. Software bots can be used to extract information from emails, create jobs in the scheduling system, and communicate through auto-generated emails to desired parties.

Shipment Tracking & Communication Process

Customers are always anxious about their shipment status. Providing frequent and timely updates on shipment tracking results in excellent customer satisfaction. RPA can help by automating the shipment status notifications to customers and allowing customers to control the frequency of receiving these notifications. Sucha a process would ultimately save a lot of time and effort for the customer service representatives to answer tonnes of calls & emails regarding shipment status.

Shipment Rating, Billing & Invoice Delivery Process

Rating and Billing process involves tasks such as data entry in the billing system, rating it against the tariff, validating the shipping details, and capturing information from various documents such as the bill of lading, commercial invoices, packaging list, custom clearance documents, and few other documents. This end to end cycle of rating & billing can be automated and managed through software bots with minimal to no human involvement. 

The last step in the invoicing process is invoice delivery. Methods like EDI billing or Invoice delivery via email can be easily added to the automation workflow. This process not only helps in speeding the invoicing process, but with efficient and accurate billing it also dramatically improves DSO(Days Sales Outstanding) & order to cash cycles.

Accounts Receivable & Collections Process 

One of the last steps and most critical in the “Order to Cash” cycles is managing accounts receivables & collection process. The most vital step in keeping accounts receivable current is ensuring accurate billing & reliable invoice delivery; we covered these points in the previous point. But even then, its not that easy and straight forward to manually keep up with Accounts Receivable for big and high traffic clients. Some of the most time-consuming processes, such as extracting AR outstanding reports, identifying the issues for unpaid invoices, following up with the client’s AP department for payment, and resending invoices can be automated. This automation will effectively save much time for AR representative, hence giving them more time to resolve the issues and get paid sooner.

As you read and learned about the various processes that qualify for RPA, you would have realized that automating these processes is taking a step towards digitizing the operations to improve the efficiency, accuracy, and timeliness of the process. Every business must adopt the digital transformation for their business to stay ahead in the race and survive in this digital revolution. 

If you are interested to learn more about RPA and how it can help your business, please contact us for a free consultation with one of our expert consultants.