If you’re a supplier, distributor, manufacturer, or retailer of any sort, here’s a familiar daily headache:
Here is a real life example of how The Lab installed RPA for an auto parts manufacturer.
This firm creates lots of parts. Each part gets shipped to an automotive original equipment manufacturer or OEM. That OEM builds tons of vehicles. Each one has its own unique vehicle identification number or VIN.
This is where it gets tricky.
For warranty and other liability/compliance reasons, you maintain a record of each part you produce, including its production code and unique serial number. If, for example, a defect or other warranty issue is traceable to your products, the OEM will turn to you to honor the warranty for each specific, covered part.
That’s at some indefinite time in the future, hopefully never.
But in the present, you need to match serial numbers of your parts to the VINs of the vehicles they were installed in. That’s thousands of parts. Thousands of vehicles. For multiple OEMs. Every single day.
Trying to match—reconcile—these lists of numbers is hard enough. Often, simply getting the numbers is a lot of work. You need to log into each OEM’s supplier-reporting portal, navigate to the proper section, input a search query for the appropriate manufacturing plant and vehicle-offline date… all just so you can download that external report, which you’ll then compare to your internal data, which you must tease out of your enterprise resource management, or ERP, system.
And if a single number doesn’t match, you need to speak up. You need to track down the mismatch internally—or, if it’s a problem at the OEM, you need to contact them.
Today, there are a number of people in your organization who are tasked with this difficult, tedious, detail-laden, mind-numbing, error-prone chore, every single day. It’s the way it’s always been done. We don’t have to tell you that they hate this chore. They’d much rather spend their time on higher-value activities.
But they’d need help. In this case, non-human help from The Lab!
Yes. We routinely create “Daily Part Number/VIN reconciliation bots” for our automotive supply-chain clients.
We’ve even made a little two-minute video about it; check it out:
If you’re new to robotic process automation or RPA, think of the “robot” as a low-level assistant who can sit at a computer all day, and follow instructions to the letter, at lightning speed, without getting tired, taking breaks, or making mistakes.
At the computer, the robot can do anything a person can. It can log into systems, with its own login and password. It can select screens, navigate through websites, download files, save them to specific destinations (even re-naming them in the process, if desired), import info into Excel and manipulate it… you name it.
So for a typical automotive supplier, we’ll create a suite of bots.
The first bot logs into the OEM portal. It selects the appropriate manufacturing plant, then navigates to the “reconciliations” section. It then inputs the requested vehicle-offline date for the specific part it’s programmed to check on, and then downloads the report. It saves the report to the proper destination folder, giving it a standardized filename.
Before you can blink, it’s already on to the next part. It logs into multiple OEM portals daily, and downloads more than 30 reports every day.
That’s just the first bot in the suite. Next, the second bot takes over where the first one left off. It combines all of the downloaded reconciliation reports into a single Excel sheet. Then, it logs into your enterprise resource planning or ERP system (such as Oracle or SAP) and does the actual reconciling. That is, it compares every single item in every single report, to make sure that the OEM’s data matches your company’s internal part-number reports.
What happens if it finds a mismatch? No problem: It compiles them all into an “exception report” for human intervention.
Next, a third robot steps in. It automatically emails the exception report to all the right people!
All told, this suite of robots reduces human labor by a whopping 90 percent. Even better: It reduces human-induced errors by 100 percent.
Put another way, the people at this example manufacturer would spend five hours a day downloading and reconciling these reports. Every single day. The bot suite does it all, error-free, in just 30 minutes. This frees up the people for active intervention, as needed, with the OEM—and a lot of other high-value activities. In other words—and this might come as a surprise to you—human workers love their robot assistants. Once they get one, they can’t wait to tell their peers, and ask for more!
Best of all, The Lab was able to create this entire suite of bots, from start to finish, in just five weeks.
It’s one thing to read about robotic process automation for automotive supply-chain companies. It’s another thing, entirely, to see it in action, in a real, live demo. So get one! The Lab invites you to schedule your own, no-obligation 30-minute screen-share demo, in which we’ll show you all this power at work—we have scores of bots, ready to go—and answer any questions you may have. Best of all, you’ll see how we’re able to do all of this remotely from our U.S. offices in Houston.