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A recent report by World Economic Forum and Accenture has stated that, the digital transformation in the field of logistics is expected to result in $1.5 trillion value at stake by 2025.However logistics industry as of now is not equipped to achieve this gigantic feat.
Present day transportation & logistics industry is being ruined by a significant amount of ineffective behaviours, for instance after the delivery half of the trucks are returning back with empty loads, which is clearly representing the negative effect on the productivity of logistics industry.
Usually transportation & 3 rd party logistics providers often depend upon huge back-office staff to manually enter huge volumes of data for several core business process. It is estimated that 32% of transportation and logistics companies rely on manual steps in more than 50% of their processes.
These manual tasks are known to be time and labour-intensive resulting in significant inefficiencies,errors, and productivity losses for businesses.
Leveraging Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in logistics, by putting the data at the heart of logistics businesses, can help in reducing operational costs along with improvising operational efficiency by streamlining the workflow.
A study by Institute for Robotic Process Automation and AI, has said that deploying RPA in the business processes can result in a prompt cost savings of up to 50%.
Here are 8 Core Business Processes of Logistics that had good scope for Automation
1. Shipment scheduling and tracking:
The Problem: B2B Portals that are setup for centralized submitting of business transactions can handle only handful of partners and customers.
As the partners, providers and customers that are dependent on the portal increases, employees need to manually enter each customer portal’s credentials manually. Practically it’s time, labor intensive, and also results in data entry errors.
Customer service reps also need to spend hours for re-keying information from internal transportation management systems and portals to schedule and track shipments as the two systems don’t interact directly.
How RPA Helps: Interestingly high-Volume tasks in Logistics like Initial pick-up requesting, or checking shipment statuses are rule based, and can have great scope for automation.
Data extraction of shipment details from incoming emails, or for logging jobs in scheduling systems, can be made easy by bots with their capacity for data management.
Bots’ are also capable of extracting relevant info such as the bill of lading, carrier invoice and other pertinent documents. All this can be done in a flash of seconds, and customer is automatically updated about the progress of the job, including the location of GPS enabled vehicles.
This can help in saving lot of time, relief from manually identifying appointment times, schedule shipments or check the shipping status from multiple carriers’ portals
2. Invoice processing and credit collections:
The Problem: Order-to-Cash cycle is considered to be an important part of logistics business for generating consistent cashflow in the business.
A research report [B1] has stated that it takes around 4.1 to 16.3 days to process an invoice from receipt to approval. Usually Transportation & logistics providers depends upon manual logistics solutions for each client, and integrate the same with the shippers and carrier’s IT system that form each client’s ecosystem, involving huge complexity.
While most of the companies resolve these complexities with technology like EDI or application program interfaces (APIs), these technologies are expensive to build and inflexible to use
How RPA Helps:
The entire order-to-cash cycle can be automated by integrating RPA with customers’ freight bill payment portals, this can accommodate hundreds of clients for large transportation and logistics providers—transport and logistics companies.
Bots possess the capability to eliminate rekeying, cutting-and-pasting and manually attaching data to customer invoices. They can also automatically extract shipping data, attach scanned PODs and invoices and updates to the customer portal in flash of seconds.
Automating routine business interactions can help customer service representatives to focus
on high value activities like handling exceptions (such as disputes and freight charge discrepancies).This helps in quality customer services, quicker payments, simpler enforcement of payment terms and reduced DSO.
In a Nutshell RPA can help companies to :
- Accelerate Invoicing & Payment: RPA eliminates the need to chase PODs and manual updating of B2B portals for freight payment processors and shippers. This helps in accelerating the receipt of funds.
- Invoice Automation: Bots ensure 100% accuracy in invoices created automatically.
- Monitoring made simpler: All payment portals can be examined easily for past-due accounts, ensuring timely resolution of discrepancies and avoiding delays in payment.
3. Order and inventory processing:
The Problem: Huge volumes of data entry work involved in shipping and invoicing is considered to be a nightmare for the companies. This results in trade in late payments, lost invoices and a lack of visibility into manual invoice processing.
How RPA Helps:
Bots simplify the tracking information, and invoice amount monitoring by automatically picking up shipments’ PRO numbers from the carrier’s website.
In case of any discrepancies a CSR is asked for guidance, however this not too often, thus minimising human intervention.
4.Capturing, researching and closing out loads:
Usually it is considered to be complicated enough for the companies to manage in-house fleet of vans, trucks and aircraft, as well as customers, this complexity increases many times when transportation and logistics providers enters into agreements with hundreds of carriers, payment processors and suppliers to reach into markets they may not be able to directly serve.
Even though working with third party carriers and suppliers is considered to be a great advancement for logistics businesses, the need to track multiple systems (including inhouse and of third parties) is throwing a big & costly challenge for the companies, by significantly increasing the amount of manual handling, re-keying and cut-and-pasting needed as shipment data and invoicing information is captured.
Customer service reps of companies need to manually access a provider’s system to capture each shipment’s PRO number, track/ trace information and invoice amount. This captured data needs to be re-keyed into their systems, as well as their customer’s systems, to keep it updated.
Even after the delivery process and necessary documentation is completed, customer service reps need to capture the bill of lading, carrier invoice and other final documents and re-key and cut-and-paste them into their system, involving huge amount of redundant work.
How RPA Helps:
Redundant manual tasks like capturing, researching and closing loads can be streamlined and automated through RPA. Bots can automatically access the carrier website to capture each shipment’s PRO number, track/trace information and invoice amount.
Important documents like PODs are made to be scanner-friendly format and were directly fed into a transportation and logistics provider system. Validation is performed at each stage, in-case of any discrepancy at the validation stage a customer service rep is made involved.
RPA accelerate the close-out of loads and invoicing, allowing businesses to maintain a steady cash flow and focus on superior customer service. RPA can also help providers to realize substantial efficiencies with less than truckload shipping.
Ex: Trinity Logistics a top-20 logistic provider of US has deployed RPA to close out 95% of supported LTL shipments without any manual effort. RPA have also helped Trinity Logistics to cut costs by up to 90%; focusing staff on exception handling yields benefits in efficiency and cash flow.
The Company had stated that they have achieved this feat by automated processing of proof of delivery documents, bills of lading, carrier invoices and other shipping documents. This enabling them to refocus several headcounts on exception handling and other high-value work instead of manual website updates.
Effective information interchange plays a crucial role in logistics for creating a cost-effective and agile logistics management process. This ensures that tasks are completed, and can be transferred from one point to the other seamlessly and without delay.
How RPA Helps:
RPA can help in setting up an automated platform for handling Email communication. The AI powered platform, can easily comprehend the details written in the mail body and can send a relevant and coherent response to the sender.
Bots can also automatically extract updates on customer order details. They can then raft an email to customers notifying them with updates, helping in build brand loyalty and customer relationships.
6. Procurement and inventory:
An estimate says that United States have got,250,000 manufacturing plants and warehouses that cater the needs of 4 million retail stores and e-commerce websites. While most of these operations carry inventory, they are still depending upon the racks and other storage solutions that require a lot of floor space and human labor.
How RPA Helps:
Leveraging RPA into logistics can help companies for optimal utilization of their real estate. Utilizing real-time reports generated by Bots can help in ramping up their existing process, and making them more productive.
CORBLOCKS RPA services can automate your crucial logistics business process. Automation can make your tasks less tedious and can help in meeting SLAs and exceeding customer expectations.
CORBLOCKS, helps industries to transform their manual processes into automation, which can reduce human efforts and increases efficiency.