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  • Writer's pictureMichał Zaremba

Work automation in logistics. 9 application examples.

Pani pracująca na komputerze

Automation, especially in the logistics department, is the inevitable future of modern business. Thanks to robotics technology, many routine and time-consuming tasks become easier and more effective. In this article, we will focus on the most relevant and frequently used practices of using RPA in logistics.

1. Order management

Pracownik działu logistyki

Nowadays, it is transformed from traditional, manual methods into more automated and effective processes thanks to Robotic Process Automation technology. A key aspect of this transformation is the ability of robots to interact with various communication channels such as online stores, emails and integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems.

  • Integration with multiple platforms: Regardless of whether the customer places an order via the website, sends it by e-mail or uses a dedicated portal, RPA robots are able to automatically and immediately receive this data. Thanks to this, orders are processed faster and the chance of human errors is minimized.

  • Real-time systems update – data entry: Once an order is received, RPA robots immediately update relevant management systems, such as ERP systems (e.g. SAP, Exact and others), customer relationship management (CRM) or order management systems. As a result, managers have immediate access to current data, which allows for better process management.

  • Notifying the right people: It is important that the right people in the organization are informed about new orders or possible problems. RPA robots can be programmed to send automatic notifications, e.g. e-mails or text messages, to sales managers, logistics departments or customer service, which ensures quick response to emerging needs.

  • Order Status Tracking: One of the most important aspects of order management is the ability to track their status in real time. Customers appreciate the ability to check where their order is at any given time. With RPA, companies can automatically monitor and update order status throughout the entire supply chain, from order placement through production to delivery.

The end result is a more seamless, efficient and automated order management process that not only speeds up turnaround times and reduces operational costs, but also significantly improves the customer experience. 2. Carrier invoice management

Pracownik przegląda faktury

In the traditional model, this process is time-consuming, prone to human errors and often requires manual checking and comparison of invoices with contracts and transport orders. However, thanks to Robotic Process Automation technology, you can automate and optimize this process in the following ways:

  • Automatic Invoice Downloading: RPA robots can be programmed to regularly retrieve new invoices from carriers either from their systems or via email. This ensures that invoices are immediately available for processing.

  • Compliance Verification: Robots automatically compare the data on the invoice with the information contained in the transportation management systems. They check prices, quantities, dates, and other key details to ensure that the invoice is in agreement with prior contracts and orders.

  • Discrepancy Detection: If a discrepancy between the invoice and the contract or order is detected, the RPA system automatically generates a notification for the relevant department or person responsible for resolving the issue.

  • Integration with Accounting Systems: After verification and approval of the invoice, RPA robots can automatically enter the relevant data into accounting systems, speeding up the settlement process.

  • Automatic Archiving: Once processed and approved, the RPA system can archive the invoice in the appropriate location, ensuring that all documents are easily accessible for future needs.

Report Generation: Robots can regularly generate reports on carrier invoices, indicating, for example, the average processing time, detected discrepancies, or the cost of transport for a given period. Using RPA in the management of carrier invoices allows companies to significantly improve efficiency, reduce errors, and save employees' time, who, thanks to automation, can focus on more valuable tasks. Automating this process also contributes to better monitoring of transportation-related costs and building more transparent relationships with transportation service providers. 3. Transport route optimization

Pracownik optymalizuje trasę przewozu

A key element in logistics, influencing costs, efficiency and timeliness of deliveries. In the traditional model, route planning can be time-consuming and error-prone. Automation of work in logistics can significantly improve this process:

  • Automatic Data Collection: RPA robots can gather data from various sources such as fleet management systems, traffic information, or maps, providing a comprehensive view of the transport route.

  • Multiple Route Analysis: Based on the collected data, robots can automatically analyze different route options, considering factors such as distance, transit time, fuel costs, or toll fees.

  • Route Optimization: With advanced algorithms, RPA can suggest optimal transport routes that minimize costs and delivery time while taking into account any constraints, such as drivers' working hours or regulations regarding the transport of certain goods.

  • Dynamic Adaptation: In the event of unexpected changes, such as road accidents, vehicle breakdowns, or alterations in the delivery plan, RPA robots can dynamically adjust the route, offering real-time alternative solutions.

  • Integration with Fleet Management Systems: Once the optimal route is determined, RPA can automatically transfer data to fleet management systems, informing drivers about the suggested route and any changes to it during the trip.

  • Real-Time Monitoring: RPA robots can monitor the progress of the route in real-time, comparing the actual route with the planned one and alerting to any potential delays or problems.

  • Reporting and Analysis: After the transport is completed, robots can generate reports on route efficiency, costs, or any issues encountered, which allows for the continuous improvement of the planning process. The use of robotization in the optimization of transport routes allows companies to make significant savings, improve the quality of deliveries and better respond to unexpected challenges. Automating this process enables more efficient use of company resources and increases customer satisfaction thanks to more punctual deliveries.

4. Supplies management

Pani zarządzająca zapasami

As an essential factor in the supply chain supervision process, it directly affects the company's ability to meet customer expectations and effectively manage current assets. Traditional methods often rely on manual monitoring and forecasting of demand, which can lead to shortages or excessive stockpiling.

Robotization of business processes brings a revolution to this area:

  • Automatic Inventory Monitoring: RPA robots continuously scan data from inventory management systems, tracking current levels and the rate of product consumption.

  • Historical Data Analysis: By processing large amounts of data, RPA can analyze past sales patterns, identifying seasonal fluctuations or other trends in demand.

  • Forecasting Future Demand: Based on historical data analysis and current market information, RPA robots can generate forecasts for future product demand.

  • Automatic Generation of Purchase Orders: When inventory levels reach a certain threshold, the RPA system can automatically generate purchase orders, ensuring that stocks are replenished in a timely manner.

  • Optimization of Inventory Levels: RPA robots can assist in determining the ideal safety stock levels for various products, minimizing the risk of stockouts while avoiding unnecessary accumulation of inventory.

  • Integration with Suppliers: By automating procurement processes, RPA can communicate directly with suppliers' systems, shortening order fulfillment times and improving delivery accuracy.

  • Reporting and Analysis: Robots can regularly generate reports on inventory management effectiveness, highlighting potential areas for improvement.

Automation of work in logistics allows companies to better adapt to market needs, increase operational and financial efficiency and improve relationships with suppliers and customers. By automating this process, companies can focus on strategic initiatives while ensuring that daily inventory management operations are performed optimally. 5. Returns management

Wymiana towaru między klientem a firmą

This is one of the most complicated aspects of commercial and logistics activities. Modern consumers expect easy and quick return processes, which are also costly and complex for companies. Using Robotic Process Automation in returns management can significantly improve efficiency and customer satisfaction:

  • Automatic Claim Reception: RPA robots can automatically process customer return claims received through various channels such as websites, emails, or chats.

  • Return Eligibility Verification: Based on defined rules and return policies, the RPA system can automatically verify whether a product is eligible for return by analyzing factors such as the purchase date, condition of the product, or the reason for the return.

  • Customer Communication: Robots can automatically update the customer about the status of their claim, the acceptance of the return, and the expected processing time.

  • Logistics Coordination: RPA can work with logistics systems to automate the process of collecting the product from the customer, processing it at the logistics center, and potentially reintroducing it into circulation.

  • Analysis of Return Reasons: RPA robots can collect and analyze data regarding the reasons for returns, identifying potential product quality issues, errors in descriptions, or other areas that require improvement.

  • Inventory Status Update: After processing a return, the RPA system can automatically update inventory levels to account for the returned products.

  • Integration with Financial Systems: In the event of a return acceptance, robots can initiate refund processes for the customer, communicating directly with payment systems or accounting.

  • Reporting and Analysis: RPA can generate regular reports on returns, their causes, the costs associated with processing, and the impact on customer satisfaction.

The use of automation in returns management allows companies to shorten returns processing time, reduce errors and improve the customer experience. By automating this area, companies can better understand the causes of returns and take actions to reduce them in the future.

6. Customs and tariff management

Pracownik przy komputerze

The complexity of regulations, differences between countries and the need for accurate document processing make this area an ideal candidate for automation using Robotic Process Automation.

  • Automatic Customs Document Processing: RPA robots can recognize and process customs documents such as declarations, invoices, or waybills, eliminating errors due to manual data entry.

  • Tariff Calculation: Based on data from documents and current customs rates, the RPA system can automatically calculate the applicable tariffs and taxes for different categories of products and shipping directions.

  • Checking Current Regulations: Robots can be programmed to regularly check databases or official sources for updates to customs and tariff regulations, allowing for quick adaptation to changing conditions.

  • Generation of Compliant Documents: RPA can automatically fill in and generate required customs forms, ensuring their compliance with current regulations.

  • Communication with Customs Authorities: Some customs systems allow for automated reporting and communication regarding customs procedures. RPA robots can be integrated with these platforms to automatically submit documents and receive responses.

  • Cost Analysis and Optimization: By collecting data on customs fees, RPA can assist companies in analyzing costs and identifying potential savings, for example, by changing suppliers or transport routes.

  • Monitoring and Reporting: Robots can automatically generate reports on customs activities, indicating any discrepancies, delays, or other issues.

  • Integration with Logistic and Financial Systems: RPA can work with a company's internal systems, synchronizing customs fee data with logistic and accounting processes.

The use of RPA in customs and tariff management allows companies to increase efficiency, reduce the risk of mistakes and improve regulatory compliance. In a world of constantly changing international trade regulations, automation in this area is the key to maintaining competitiveness and minimizing unforeseen costs. 7. Quality control

Pracownik kontroluje jakość

As an indispensable element of the production and distribution process, it aims to ensure that the delivered products meet certain standards and customer expectations. Automating work in this area can bring significant benefits in terms of efficiency and accuracy:

  • Automated Data Collection: RPA robots can collect data from various sources such as sensors, measuring devices, or production systems, and log it in a single, centralized location.

  • Quality Control Analysis: Based on defined criteria and standards, RPA can automatically analyze quality control results, identifying products that do not meet requirements or show deviations from the norm.

  • Notification of Non-conformities: In the event of a problem detection, robots can automatically notify the relevant individuals or teams, enabling quick intervention and correction.

  • Integration with Other Systems: RPA robots can be integrated with Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) or Quality Management Systems (QMS), enabling automatic status updates, generating alerts, or initiating corrective actions.

  • Results Archiving: All quality control results are automatically archived, allowing for later review, trend analysis, and sharing data with auditors or business partners.

  • Reporting and Trend Analysis: Thanks to the collection of real-time data, RPA enables the creation of advanced reports and analyses that assist in identifying areas in need of improvement and monitoring the effectiveness of changes implemented.

  • Support for Continuous Improvement: Through automatic monitoring and analysis, enterprises can better understand the causes of quality issues, leading to more informed decisions regarding process optimization.

  • Enhancing Customer Satisfaction: Automated quality control and rapid response to discrepancies contribute to the delivery of higher-quality products, which directly impacts customer satisfaction.

The use of automation in quality control allows companies to analyze products faster and more accurately, minimizing the risk of human mistakes. As a result, organizations can better manage quality, achieving higher levels of customer satisfaction and increasing operational efficiency.

8. Warehouse management

Pani zarządzająca magazynem

It is a fundamental aspect in the supply and distribution chain, and its proper conduct affects customer satisfaction, financial outlays and the overall efficiency of the company. Implementing Robotic Process Automation in warehouse matters opens the door to many opportunities for improvement and optimization.

  • Automated Goods Reception: After receiving scanned documents, such as waybills or invoices, RPA robots can automatically update warehouse systems and log received goods.

  • Picking Optimization: Through data analysis, RPA can help in determining the optimal route for warehouse workers or robots, reducing picking time and minimizing mistakes.

  • Automatic Generation of Shipping Documents: After an order is assembled, RPA robots can automatically generate the necessary documents, such as waybills, labels, or invoices.

  • Inventory Monitoring: The RPA system can track inventory levels in real-time, informing about the need to purchase goods or indicating products with an approaching expiration date.

  • Integration with Suppliers and Recipients: RPA can automatically communicate with suppliers' and recipients' systems, synchronizing data on orders, deliveries, and returns.

  • Warehouse Space Optimization: Through data analysis, RPA can assist in the optimal placement of products in the warehouse, resulting in better space utilization and faster picking.

  • Compliance and Security Assurance: RPA robots can monitor compliance with warehouse procedures and regulations, as well as control access to certain products or warehouse zones.

  • Reporting and Analysis: Thanks to continuous data collection, RPA systems enable the generation of detailed reports on warehouse activities, identifying areas in need of improvement, and monitoring performance indicators.

  • Automatic Response to Changing Conditions: In the event of unexpected situations, such as delivery delays, RPA robots can dynamically adjust warehouse plans, minimizing potential disruptions.

Automatyzacja pracy w logistyce, szczególnie w zarządzaniu magazynem, pozwala na zwiększenie efektywności, redukcję błędów oraz lepsze dostosowanie do dynamicznie zmieniających się warunków rynkowych. W rezultacie, organizacje mogą osiągać lepsze wyniki finansowe i zwiększać zadowolenie swoich klientów.

9. Contract management with suppliers

Dwóch panów podających sobie dłoń

As an inherent element of business cooperation, it requires precise supervision over the details and deadlines of concluded contracts. Modern technology, in particular robotization of business processes, can bring significant improvements in this area:

  • Automated Deadlines Reminders: RPA robots can track the expiration dates of contracts, delivery completion dates, and payments, sending automatic notifications to responsible departments or individuals as the deadline approaches.

  • Contract Terms Comparison with Reality: RPA can automatically verify whether deliveries or services provided by a supplier comply with the terms of the contract, identifying potential discrepancies.

  • Integration with Other Systems: Robots can integrate with procurement, warehouse, or financial systems to ensure the smooth flow of information related to contracts and deliveries.

  • Archiving and Access to Documents: RPA can assist in automatically archiving contracts and providing quick access to them when needed.

  • Generating Reports: Robots can create periodic reports on supplier performance, delivery punctuality, and other aspects of cooperation, which helps in making decisions about extending cooperation or renegotiating terms.

  • Automatic Negotiations: In more advanced scenarios, RPA could be used to conduct simple negotiations with suppliers, for example, in the case of standard orders or discounts.

  • Optimization of Contract Terms: By analyzing data from previous transactions, RPA can suggest what clauses might be worth adding or changing in future contracts.

  • Reduction of Human Errors: By automating routine tasks related to contract management, the risk of mistakes, delays, or inaccuracies that could arise from manual work is minimized.

Implementing RPA in managing contracts with suppliers allows enterprises to cooperate with partners more effectively, accurately and automatically, which translates into better control over purchasing processes and greater savings.

At the end of our journey around the world of RPA in logistics, the key message is that work automation in logistics is no longer just a luxury - it is the basis for efficiency and innovation in this sector. RPA has transformed logistics by bringing speed, accuracy and scalability to processes that were once limited by human labor. From automated order management to inventory optimization and better shipment tracking, the possibilities are almost endless. We hope this article has shed light on how these changes impact logistics today and how they may shape tomorrow.

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