Robotic Process Automation in Logistics and Supply Chain

T-Impact work with enthusiastic and driven logistics companies seeking to empower their workforce and improve efficiency using digital transformation. Our RPA & AI solution enables you to develop a strong business case before embarking on further automation projects, as well as achieving large levels of ROI within the first year of operation. Speak with one of our experts today to learn how other logistics and supply chain organisations are already embracing this technology and what you can do to get ahead of the market.

What are the disruptions to Logistics?

Regulatory Requirements

With future trade agreements after Brexit still unknown, businesses need to adjust for new laws and customs requirements. There is a need for businesses to be able to rapidly respond to these changes, especially with future potential developments disrupted by COVID-19. These will inevitably need new systems and best practises implemented alongside them, resulting in a huge volume of additional administration.

Technological Enhancement

Logistics companies need to remain productive and maximise their capacity whilst dealing with complex and often inadequate legacy systems. Companies are turning to new Intelligent technology such as 5G connectivity, the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to get the most out of their capacity and productivity.

The Last Mile

Retailers understand that the last mile is a “moment of truth” in the customer’s buying journey, often referred to as ‘The Moment That Matters’. It is the face of their business and has a significant impact on customers reviews, recommendations and retention. Investment to improve the individual last mile experience is easily justified for huge B2B deliveries but can be challenging for B2C deliveries, where costs are potentially borne for a single package.

Reporting and Analytics

Understanding business performance is notoriously difficult for supply chain companies due to multiple vendors and end-points. Delivery data is often stored in multiple IT systems and website portals, from suppliers, ports, customs clearing, etc. Designing and building automated interfaces can be expensive and often requires support from external teams, whom you do not control. The leading organisations are refining their analytics and reporting systems to collect large volumes of data to seek out bottlenecks or inconsistencies.

Supply Chain Control

Logistics companies need to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances and have to adapt quickly in order to meet them. Managing the supply chain is critical and logistics companies need to ensure that their back-end operations are able to collaborate effectively and easily with all customers, vendors, shipping companies and suppliers.

What can Robotic Process Automation do for Logistics? 

Back-office operations in logistics companies are time-critical, and need to operate smoothly and quickly to ensure deliveries are timely. However, demands like growing customer expectations, and an influx of new regulatory requirements are causing increased confusion and delay in logistics companies. Forward-thinking logistics and supply chain companies have turned to robotic process automation to optimise these back-end operations to identify bottlenecks and speed up the flow of goods and services. Consequently, RPA is now the essential tool for logistics companies to maximise their output for minimal cost.

Software RPA is essential for supply chain and logistics companies to improve visibility for their customers and improve back-end efficiency. A balance of highly skilled virtual workers and technically skilled human staff can quickly lead to massive improvements in output, revenue and profit.

RPA is best used in rule-based processes with a high volume of data and clear workflow. In logistics and supply chain companies, they can specifically be deployed for:

PARCEL AND CONTAINER TRACKING

Many logistics & supply chain firms track delivery vehicles & vessels but aren’t able to track individual parcels/containers. Data is often re-keyed manually from third-party websites, such as customs clearance & port authorities, and inaccuracies and delays are common and costly.

Robotic process automation can provide a scaled and efficient parcel and container tracking workflow, updating data more frequently and with zero errors. It automatically extracts data from third-party websites several times per hour using the same screens your staff use today, without a need for APIs or interfaces, before generating operational discrepancy reports and sending customer notifications by email, as well as generating compliance reports.

Parcel/container tracking data can add significant value for both B2C and B2B firms. It is a key differentiator that can help you win more work. Customers and staff have more frequent and accurate insight on parcel/container status & delivery times. You can also spot opportunities to improve vehicle or vessel loading to reduce haulage and shipping costs.

CUSTOMER TRACKING REPORTS

Your customers are managing complex supply chain processes, which depend upon your deliveries. Insight into parcel/container delivery times and locations are crucial for them to plan their own activities.​

Robotic process automation can log in, read and extract data from all systems, run a daily tracking report, send updates to customers and create a file on a shared internal drive, capture details of errors and email the relevant parties, while automatically pausing the process until resolved​ and keep the audit log continuously updated throughout the delivery process​

Automating these processes leads to significant time being saved from the otherwise manual reporting process. The increased frequency of reporting will lead to better quality data, which will inform decision-making and ultimately improve customer retention rates. There is huge growth potential as well, as RPA is infinitely scalable. ​

LAST MILE LOGISTICS

Growing demand for goods increases the complexity of last mile logistics, making it difficult to provide customers with full visibility of deliveries. Delivery schedules are also impacted by incorrect addresses, remote locations, traffic, changes/cancellations of orders and unattended delivery locations.

Robotic process automation can manage customer communication by confirming the delivery address, requesting delivery area photo and notifying customers with updates from the driver. It can also plan and optimise vehicle loading, taking into account the most economic route, package loads, traffic conditions, driver availability and delivery windows.

RPA provides visibility of delivery status and can be achieved using your existing IT systems. You’ll be able to gain and retain business from competitors by offering better customer experience. Operational costs decrease by eliminating the common delivery delays. Finally, load planning is optimised and driver safety and availability improved by automating customer communication.

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The Robotic Process Automation involved in Logistics 

AI and RPA in logistics have previously been limited to stock control requirements. However, new modern Robotic Process Automation (RPA) refers to software robots that can perform a variety of manual functions such as opening emails, processing data and downloading attachments.

By mimicking human activity, RPA can perform the same functions as humans on your console, creating and accessing information in your existing systems. When partnered with AI platforms such as IBM Watson, Microsoft AI and Google DeepMind, these tools can work in tandem to manage more complex processes.

 

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What are the benefits of Robotic Process Automation in Logistics?

RPA is essential for logistics firms to continue delivering an outstanding service to their customers, but other benefits include:

Reduced Operational Costs

Thanks to RPA helping to improve last mile logistics, loading times and anticipating common delivery delays, measures can be put in place to avoid these delays having any impact. RPA can also help you to identify bottlenecks in your service offering which could result in delays, and allow you to act on them. As a result, deliveries are faster and operational costs are reduced.

Increased Rate of Customer Retention

Your virtual workforce replicates every process identically. Quality assurance checks are efficient and extensive for all deliveries.

This standardised level of quality across your portfolio ensures your customers receive the same outstanding delivery service every single time, encouraging customer retention.

Customer Transparency

RPA can be programmed to provide the same updates and reports every single day, in line with delivery windows and updates. The increased frequency of reporting will lead to better quality data as you can review operations on a regular basis, which will inform decision-making and ultimately improve customer retention rates.

Improved Data Insights

Customers and staff have more frequent and accurate insight on parcel and container status & the expected delivery times. Staff can also spot opportunities to improve vehicle or vessel loading to reduce haulage and shipping costs thanks to accurate, timely data.

Free Key Staff Members

Robotics unlocks important staff members. Rather than dealing with administration, they can focus on generating revenue streams and business development opportunities. This is especially important for tasks like customer tracking reports, as they are normally time-consuming manual reporting processes.

FAQs

What is RPA used for in Logistics?

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) automates tasks that are normally carried out by humans, optimally tasks that are rule based and repetitive. In Logistics, you should consider parcel tracking, customer notifications, and customer delivery confirmations – which can be particularly effective in eliminating last mile delivery challenges. These solutions can reduce your costs and substantially improve customer satisfaction. See ‘T-Impact’s RPA Logistics Use Case Guide’ for more insights into the challenges, capabilities and benefits of RPA.

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Digital Transformation Use Case Guide for Logistics

Robotic Process Automation Demo

8-Step Guide To Robotic Process Automation

LOGISTICS TESTIMONIALS

Management and Administration

Financial Operations

Management and Administration

Gavin Goates, CEO of PCML Ltd.

Financial Operations

Nadine Bishop, Finance Director at PCML Ltd.