Integration of Supply Chain Systems: Let RPA Do the Virtual Heavy Lifting

Robotics Processing Automation (RPA) is a form of digitization and automation within various business models that allows management to establish a set of processes or instructions for a robot (bot) to carry out. RPA in the supply chain is revolutionizing the way the network as a whole operates. Automation allows those tasks to be carried out with AI-based machines rather than having a staff member tied up with mundane and repetitive tasks. This addition to modern supply chain systems enhances productivity and profitability through automated processes associated with RPA, API, EDI, and other vital supply chain metrics and platforms.

Why Supply Chain Systems Integration Matters

One of the most significant benefits of the solid integration of new automated systems and platforms is better management and increased profits throughout the supply chain network. Proper training and integration of these systems are critical because, without the right approach and outlook team members may fail to utilize all the tools these systems offer correctly. As market trends continue to change and customer needs remain fluid, proper integration and utilization of platforms and tools that support RPA in the shipping industry will be one of the dominating factors that separate shippers from each other.

Why RPA Might be the Game-Changer the Supply Chain Needs

There is far too much potential for growth and expansion to let the latest innovation and automation lie untapped. The advances that have been seen recently with automation and technology will continue to improve, thus allowing current and future team members to focus more of their attention and energy on critical human-centric tasks. Supply chain systems supported by automated processes, machine learning AI systems, chatbots, data filing, and management systems, and real-time notification updates can significantly improve overall logistics, management, sales, and customer service throughout the entire network. 

Examples of RPA at Work Within the Modern Day Supply Chain

Integrating supply chain systems with RPA systems can help improve day-to-day functions across many systems within the network. According to Automation Anywhere, “RPA automation enables users to create bots by observing human digital actions. Show your bots what to do, then let them do the work. Robotic Process Automation software bots can interact with any application or system the same way people do—except that RPA bots can operate around the clock, nonstop, much faster, and with 100% reliability and precision.” Some of the areas automation and robotics can improve include:

  • Chatbots for customer service inquiries 
  • Document management for records and data storage
  • Invoice automation and payment tracking
  • Shipment and container tracking and monitoring
  • Communications in real-time within the network 
  • Alerts and push notifications for real-time monitoring 
  • Improved collaboration with third party members

The dominating benefit is that RPA bots can mimic human activities and basic thought processes to carry out error-free tasks at high volume and speed.

Key Benefits of RPA Integration that Improves Supply Chain System Logistics and Management

When properly integrated with existing supply chain networks, these tech-backed systems and platforms offer many benefits, including: 

  • Improved profits thanks to fewer fees associated with delays and disruptions.
  • Easier management of multiple shipments, vendors, and partnerships.
  • Faster customer service and better response for improved levels of satisfaction.
  • Better visibility from end to end throughout the supply chain.
  • Prompt responses to disruptions and problems that arise during transportation.
  • Improved brand image and a higher level of return customers.
  • Supply chain systems onboarded and ready for future growth and expansion.

Managing supply chain platforms, dashboards, and systems can be challenging. However, with the proper focus and care, integrating multiple systems can prove to be an effective means of maximizing the power of RPA support.

Tap into the Power of Automation and let RPA Labs do the Heavy Lifting

The sheer potential for growth and expansion that exists with recent supply chain automation and digitization means supply chain managers must continue to integrate these technological advancements as quickly and efficiently as possible. The advances made with automation and technology will only get better down the line as track and trace, communications, collaborations, and networking processes continue to advance. To this end, supply chain managers and team members alike must be willing to focus more of their attention and energy on automating supply chain systems across the network. Contact RPA Labs today for a free demo of the innovative system to get started.

Buying RPA for Supply Chain: 5 Steps to Selecting the Right RPA Software Provider

With continued digital innovation, data from across the supply chain network and even consumer purchasing trends can be easily collected and analyzed to understand historical trends better and predict future demand. This access to practical and applicable data is just one of the leading reasons why robotics process automation (RPA) grows in popularity among supply chain managers and directors. RPA for supply chain, also referred to as logistics process workflow automation, changes how the industry deals with customer demands and market trends, particularly during market volatility.

What Is an RPA Software Provider?

RPA for supply chains continues to revolutionize how the transportation and shipping industry operates and what services are available to consumers. As highlighted by Supply Chain 24/7: “Many organizations are already exploiting this capability. When asked what benefits were accruing from their adoption of a technologically advanced supply chain strategy, 52% of [respondents to a recent survey] cited the ‘ability to integrate data and leverage analytics to improve the planning process.’ In fact, that benefit was their top choice from a list of a dozen benefits.” Freight management parties need to take five fundamental steps before purchasing RPA software to find the right resources and ensure maximum results. 

1. Evaluate the Ease of Deployment of RPA Software

When selecting the appropriate RPA for supply chain optimization, you must be mindful of how easy or complex the system is to set up. From getting the system joined with the existing platform to performing appropriate onboarding and training, not all RPA tools are the same. You must carefully consider each aspect of deployment when comparing software systems and RPA options currently available.

2. Ensure the RPA Can Integrate With All Systems in Your Supply Chain Tech Stack

When evaluating RPA for the supply chain, you will also need to check all systems and tools currently in your tech stack to ensure they are compatible. There is little point in investing in an automation system that cannot work well with all your current systems. Integration is critical for long-term RPA success with machine learning and AI-based solutions.

3. Remember to Think About the Value of Digital Document Management and Integration

There are many layers and aspects involved with setting up new RPA systems. RPA for supply chains covers a lot of ground, but one valuable aspect that often gets overlooked by management is the value of managing critical documents. Having online records available on-demand that can be instantly accessed and shared is well worth the upgrade for many management teams.

4. Ensure the RPA Vendor Can Handle Email Management and Data Sharing Too

Even supply chains that have taken steps toward automating processes and started moving away from manual processes can benefit from RPA for supply chain systems. Checking to ensure your RPA vendor can handle your level of data and necessary communications and collaboration will ensure you make a wise and informed decision. Consider emails, video calls, data transfers, and the like as well.

5. Conduct a Full Cost Versus Benefit Analysis

The final step to securing an appropriate RPA for supply chains like yours will involve a close and honest look at costs versus benefits. Initial investments into a new system may be costly, but the ROI can yield significantly more revenue and greater capacity opportunities when appropriately utilized. Carefully analyzing predicted costs against predicted profits can give a clearer view of what RPA is the best.

Streamline Buying Processes for RPA for Supply Chain Circles by Choosing RPA Labs

RPA integration offers many benefits within the supply chain, provided you know where to find the best vendor. Partnering with third parties who offer robotics and automation services opens the door for more opportunities to secure capacity, find new clients, tap into market trends, and maximize profits. RPA for supply chains is an important step toward more robust automation and digitization, positioning shippers to take advantage of growing trends in the market more efficiently. Streamline the entire process and guarantee a successful purchase and integration by contacting RPA Labs today to see the power of RPA in action across your full freight tech stack.

Where Are My Supply Chain Documents? Managing Critical Documents with Automation

Staying on top of the ever-changing omnichannel service options and keeping track of supply chain documents and freight documents remains vital for continued growth and success within competitive markets. Supplies big and small and all logistical teams and supply chain management teams can suffer from poor document management. As highlighted by 6 River Systems contributor Emily Murphy, “many areas of the supply chain might not feel as if they are affected by this omnichannel revolution, but it disturbs every part of the supply chain. These changing buyer habits then require complete cohesivity within your organization. Therefore, better network design, planning and operations are all needed, and all of which might not be completely satisfactory.” This requires supply chain managers and logistic directors to embrace automation, digitization, flexibility, and AI throughout the process of document management within the modern supply chain network. The power of RPA in the shipping industry waits to be fully tapped into!

Why Missing Documents Are a Major Problem in Supply Chain Management

The importance of adequately managing supply chain documents is easy to see when the sheer volume and types of papers the average company generates come into focus. 

From, bill of lading (BOL), proof of delivery (POD), customs clearance authorizations, invoices, inspection documentation, and other vital documents, every shipment can have a huge paper trail attached to it. As a result, missing papers and poorly recorded or erroneous paperwork can present the following challenges to supply chain managers:

  • Delays at ports and loading/unloading areas
  • Issues with customs and border crossings
  • Missed pricing errors and overcharges
  • Additional fees due to non-compliance
  • Surcharges stemming from delays and disruptions
  • Wasted resources and man-hours
  • Lack of thorough logistics process automation
  • Missed opportunities due to filing errors
  • Legal and contract expenses from claims

Automation Offers a Way to Digitize All Documents

Using robotic processing automation or RPA can make it easier for shippers and managers alike to aggregate documents and apply the data more effectively. Proper recording of documents means more accessible access to the information contained within them through the supply chain tech stack. Managing critical paperwork is easier with automation of supply chain documents. Finances Online reports the following as some of the most commonly reported document management challenges of the past few years:

  • 83% of employees end up recreating documents they cannot locate, thus wasting time and resources.
  • 46% of supply chain management find it time-consuming and challenging to find documents on demand.
  • 42% of documents cannot easily be found due to poor or improper labeling, organizing, and filing.
  • 41% of the information needed for vital supply chain operations ends up getting saved in the wrong place.

Keeping track of supply chain documents digitally with RPA in the supply chain network makes every aspect of record-keeping and data management much easier.

How to Manage Critical Documents With RPA-Based Technology

Every piece of paper generated by orders and shipments within the supply chain network could potentially impact profits and delivery and therefore must remain accessible. Traditionally, supply chains have not focused on making a move to digital documentation and recording. Managing critical supply chain documents is easier with RPA in supply chain innovation and brings benefits including, but not limited to:

  • Integrate various supply chain systems under one TMS platform.
  • Teach the RPA algorithm what key terms to look for in documents.
  • Ensure documents are viewable, usable, whether obtained via email or within a TMS, and easily accessible on demand.
  • Think about integration with an email to gather documents from there too.
  • Choose a world-class logistics RPA solution that’s prebuilt and ready to roll.
  • Remember to think about the customer service side of interactions.
  • Train RPA bots to review documents and send that information to customers.

Gain Control Over Supply Chain Documents With Automation and RPA Labs

Consumer demands and market trends constantly change, whether that entails the demand for faster order fulfillment, rising pressure from e-commerce shipping, growing need for last-mile delivery services, or the continued struggle to meet customer demands.  Master the process of digital documentation management, logistics automation, and adequate supply chain documents upkeep with innovative technology from RPA Labs. Schedule your free demo today.

Supply Chain Talent Shortage: Augment Your Labor Force With Logistics Chatbots

As the world dealt with the pandemic, the supply chain talent shortage became woefully apparent and the effects disrupted businesses and consumers alike. Familiar fast-paced processes ground to a near halt almost immediately. The job market for drivers continued to decline throughout2020 while demand soared. Now, with same-day deliveries and faster shipping demands, finding talent for the logistics labor force is more complex than ever. Embracing automation and software bots will help solve the labor shortage that continues to grow worse even as the world begins to emerge from the pandemic. Logistics chatbots provide services like automating customer service and managing daily emails and paperwork. They can streamline throughput and assist with keeping the high demands at bay. Overcoming this supply chain talent shortage can be done, and chatbots can help. 

Why the Supply Chain Talent Shortage Is Growing Worse in 2021

Truckers have historically been overworked and underpaid. Traveling thousands of miles every year and being away from their families is just one reason a driver shortage remains. There is a serious disconnect when it comes to work-life balance. Those entering the logistics workforce tend to gravitate toward other jobs such as warehouse staff in search of that balance and a desirable wage. Another factor contributing to the trucker shortage is the amount of time and money it takes to obtain a CDL. Sometimes, it can be expensive without incentives to obtain a license to drive trucks, which exacerbates the supply chain talent shortage. 

Logistics Chatbots Automate Customer Service and Back-Office Processes

While it seems expensive, management and business owners should budget for automation. Doing so will allow this gap to close, slowly but surely. The supply chain talent shortage may be solved by utilizing RPA and other automated platforms within the supply chain. According to Deloitte.com, “this software proves valuable through its ability to automate data-driven processes, while simultaneously decreasing costs, reducing error rates across the board, and optimizing operations.” In other words, automating customer service practices and back-office procedures to eliminate time-consuming, manual tasks will increase throughput and expand profitability. 

Added Ways Chatbots Can Improve Efficiency and Streamline Throughput

With the current supply chain talent shortage, chatbots can be a solution to the low throughput. Without drivers for freight or other supply chain roles, throughput is slowed. This results in delays in shipments and dissatisfied customers. Chatbots can automatically respond to requests and optimize current issues throughout the supply chain. Many manual hours are wasted in an office, filling out and filing paperwork that can be uploaded automatically. These technologies are being used to fill the gap that the pandemic and economic crisis helped create in logistics. The supply chain talent shortage highlights the need for utilizing chatbots to improve efficiency throughout the supply chain. 

Overcome the Talent Shortage by Prioritizing Workflows and Truly Managing by Exception, Letting Chatbots Handle Most Needs

Logistics management can combat the supply chain talent shortage by investing in software like chatbots to handle most office needs. Chatbots will not replace the value of a human team member, but they can boost morale by eliminating those mundane, time-consuming tasks. Overcoming the shortage and streamlining throughput will truly prioritize workflows and create an avenue for faster shipping. Bridge the gap with automated data entry, and let chatbots handle everyday needs. Schedule a demo with RPA Labs to learn more about how chatbots can boost your efforts to attract and retain talent today.

The Benefits of RPA in Supply Chain

There are many benefits of the use of RPA (robotics process automation) in supply chain. Logistics management may need to justify implementing this particular software. RPA in the supply chain holds many benefits for those who use it to its full advantage. Some benefits of integrating an RPA solution include improved speed overall. Put the most difficult deliveries in the past with the use of RPA. In addition to the optimization of workflow to gain more speed in business, automation is ramped up to reduce operational costs, collaboration is enhanced, logistics service providers can more confidently provide real-time visibility, and pivot from reactive to proactive management by exception to prevent excessive costs.

 

Most importantly, the benefits of RPA in supply chain processes are not limited to single chatbots. They can be deployed to manage email inquiries, generate quotes, and much more. This gives logistics managers the ability to process shipments faster without sacrificing other aspects of the business. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of RPA in logistics and how this technology is reshaping the industry. 

 

1. Improved Speed in Workflows

 

One of the many benefits of RPA in supply chain processes involves improved speed in responding to quotes and customer engagement. Logistics and supply chain staff are buried in emails, documents, and inefficient processes.  

 

The average time it takes for a freight forwarder to respond to a quote request is 57 hours (that is if they answer at all – over 70% don’t).

Freight forwarders should not have to manually sift through emails or have anxiety in winning new customers or lose current customers due to slow response times, hunting down data lost in emails, or compiling Excel sheets just to respond to requests for quotes. 

 

When those in the supply chain, such as freight forwarders, implement robotic process automation they typically gain the following benefits:

  • Respond First: Be the first to engage customers and vendors across all communication channels including email, text/SMS, chatbots, web apps, and more. 
  • Increase Sales: When you respond quickly and with consistency your team is more efficient and confident, resulting in more customer acquisition and higher rates of retention.
  • Engage Customers: Instant response times give companies an edge over their competitors, leading to more wins and happier customers. For example, if a chatbot can easily answer a question on your website when a customer visits for things such as an update on sailing schedules.

 

2. Keep Profit Margins in Tact by Reducing Operational Costs

 

Another natural benefit of speeding up response times and relying on RPA to gain benefits in the supply chain is that operational costs are reduced by automating tasks such as putting together the paperwork and getting all the information you need to serve customers.

Freight forwarders are struggling to keep up with demand and respond to customers in time due to manual processes resulting in errors, less attention to detention & demurrage, and frustrated customers.

It shouldn’t be so taxing on your team to provide the best service for customers, but most likely, you are having to hire several team members, adding to operational costs, and resulting in a lower margin.

RPA helps protect profit margins for forwarders and others in the supply chain by giving more time back to your team:

  • Helping to reduce manual, error-prone human data collection.
  • Generating daily or hourly reports on container status updates.
  • Developing alerts for exceptions and changes in ETAs.
  • Identifying potential detention and demurrage fees. 
 

3. Stronger Collaboration 

 

More benefits of RPA in supply chain usage lie within its easy integration with existing software and processes. It is one of the more notable advantages of RPA utilization because it can use the same system as team members. An in-house strategy to build RPA tools takes many resources, but a prebuilt solution built specifically for logistics and supply chain workflows utilizes those existing software structures. That promotes faster time to ROI and when all the route, manual tasks are working in an automated fashion, it allows logistics service providers, like freight forwarders, and importers to collaborate on larger issues that are facing each organization.

 

4. Faster Data Collection for Real-Time Visibility

 

Increased visibility and real-time access to data form additional benefits of RPA in supply chain processes. Consider this. RPA boosts real-time visibility via track and trace, by capturing and entering data automatically, which effectively reduces errors of manual entry. This leads to better data collection with high-quality data that everyone can interpret and use. Automated email response bots also enable access to a larger quantity of data for analytics resources to leverage, and they can even be useful as automations for freight forwarders or other freight management parties to respond to incoming email requests. 

 

5. Ability to Scale Operations

 

Freight forwarders should be able to focus on high-level strategy instead of worrying about day-to-day operations and manual tasks. Forwarders and other logistics service providers want to scale operations and achieve specific outcomes for their business, but they are faced with many challenges that an automation solution, like RPA, solves. For example, many companies want to:

 

  • Improve productivity… but demand from customers on top of redundant tasks is holding them back.
  • Support Customers… but the team is struggling to provide it proactively.
  • Increase Conversions… but their team is not turning back requests for quotes in a timely manner.
  • Scale Business…but every time the forwarder onboards a new customer, especially big ones, theyhave to hire more people, slowing down operatoins and hampering growth.

 

The benefits of RPA in the supply chain provide the confidence and backdrop to scale and grow.

The automation that comes within the RPA Labs’ RPA Engage suite to scale provides a path to these benefits. Let’s take a look at the functionality:

  • Logistics ChatBot: RPA Engage fully integrates Chatbots with existing systems to provide instant, accurate responses to customer inquiries throughout all your chat channels. 
  • Email Response Bot: RPA Engage directly integrates through email to answer customer inquiries, eliminating email inboxes up to 80%. 
 

Tap the Benefits of RPA in Supply Chain and Boost Your System Today

If teams budget for automation, they can tap into the benefits of using RPA in supply chain workflows more easily. These benefits are simply too great to ignore and can reduce the hassle of manually sorting through and responding to email as email response bots or perform other activities.  Connect with RPA Labs to schedule a demo to see advanced RPA in action.

Top 5 Use Cases of RPA in the Supply Chain

Many businesses spend years building their management systems and platforms. The value of using RPA in supply chain processes is often overlooked due to the nature of “traditional” maneuvers within the supply chain. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) delivers changes to shipping schedules efficiently, decreasing the chance of delays. RPA can also handle customer needs or automate and consolidate data entry and enable faster shipping.  Additional benefits include streamlining order management needs and identifying weaknesses within the supply chain. 

1. Management by Exception for Delays or Changes to the Shipping Schedule

RPA in supply chain operations is beneficial for shippers because management can be notified immediately when changes are made to the shipping schedule. Changes in the schedule can lead to costly delays and even cause businesses to lose customers. TechTarget.com states, RPA can improve supply chain management and logistics by automating repetitive time-consuming tasks such as data entry, in turn improving workflows. RPA uses automated software robots — or bots — to extract data from one application and paste it into another.” Integrating this software helps eliminate the significant struggle among shippers, carriers, and management by opening communication lines and transforming logistics.

2. After-Sales Service to Handle Customer Needs

Another essential function of using RPA in supply chain activity comes after the sale. After-sales customer service checks in on customers to ensure their needs are met, including a great delivery experience. This service provides customers with an easy way to submit feedback in a way that helps ensure that their voice is heard. If issues occur, customers can address them immediately. This provides the company with an opportunity to boost its customer service level with timely responses. 

3. Automation of Data Entry

Automated data entry enables logistics managers to reduce their workload and prioritize their working hours. Mundane, everyday tasks can encroach on valuable work time, especially during the crunch time of busy seasons and any logistics automation, like RPA, will help streamline the upstream supply chain. Using RPA in supply chain operations to handle these processes will streamline those services and increase efficiency.  Manual entry of customer information also takes up precious time. In addition to saving time on paperwork, automated systems can remember repeat customers and automatically save and share their data with shippers. 

4. Enabling Order Management

In addition to enabling automated back-office work, using RPA in supply chain processes also allows for more seamless order management. Disorganization caused by manual processes can lead to lost files or information and shipment delays. Poor order management can cause delays and prevent on-time deliveries. The ripple effect of missing deadlines can lead shippers to lose business and logistics companies and freight forwarders to lose shippers. 

5. Identifying, Implementing, and Continuously Optimizing Network Processes

Becoming more efficient with RPA can make it easier when it comes to processing orders, shipping via multi-modes, verifying vendors, and identifying additional needs. However, efficiency does not stop at implementation. Adding RPA in supply chain processes means continuous, proactive, and preventative maintenance for network processes, as well as ongoing route optimization connected to other systems of record. Furthermore, software needs to be monitored to correctly identify issues as they arise. These processes can reorder inventory or condense emails, but management and other users must put in the work to ensure proper care and maintenance for their solutions. 

Increase Efficiency With RPA in Supply Chain Processes Throughout Your Network

RPA in supply chain processes handles everything from backlogged office duties to tracking the shipments and nurturing customers once their order is complete. Many supply chain experts can better navigate the frustrating and confusing parts of shipments by upgrading the software bots throughout the network. Request a demo with RPA Labs to get started.