Robotic process automation (RPA) is a software technology that makes it easy to build, deploy, and manage software robots that emulate human actions interacting with digital systems and software.
Just like people, software robots can do things like understand what’s on a screen, complete the right keystrokes, navigate systems, identify and extract data, and perform a wide range of defined actions.
The advantage is that software robots can do it faster and more consistently than humans.
Here’s how RPA helps logistics and transportation service providers.
How RPA Helps Logistics Service Providers
Many logistics companies started using RPA because of the abilities they provide in making it easier for them to handle the commercial activities of transporting goods to customers.
There are four key areas in which RPA is having an impact on logistics companies today. They are:
- Report Generations
- Document Automation
- Emails and Digital conversations
1. Report Generations
RPA uses machine learning and natural language processing to automate repetitive workflows like creating shipment orders, re-keying information from documents to databases, downloading reports, and inputting valuable information into CRM or ERP systems.
RPA bots have the ability to scrape relevant data from emails, texts, social media and other digital sources to identify market trends and insights.
2. Document Automation
Whether a company is a domestic freight broker, an international freight forwarder, an ocean carrier or a trucking fleet, they probably rely on employees to do all the data entry, migration and document indexing manually.
Handling all these tasks – in addition to providing good service and communicating regularly with partners and clients – can be dull, time-consuming and cumbersome for any logistics company.
RPA allows for seamless system-to-system interaction, so migrating data from shipping instructions, packing invoices, and other documents is done automatically.
Making the invoicing process quicker and more efficient improves your chances of getting paid faster.
RPA can post sales invoices and purchase orders into accounting systems without human interaction.
The bots used by RPA can also identify billing errors and inconsistencies and alert the accounting team and customers when invoices are paid.
4. Emails and Digital Conversations
Unlike humans, RPA bots never take time off.
That enables them to respond to customer questions immediately, either through email or online chats.
This 24/7 availability can lead to quicker troubleshooting and improved customer service.
In an industry in which 90% of correspondence is conducted via email, implementing email automation is a true game-changer.
Other areas where RPA can help logistics providers include:
- Inventory management
- Vendor selection
- Shipment status communication
- Supply and demand forecasting
How RPA Helps Transportation Service Providers
Using RPA in transportation is key to unlock many efficiency and cost benefits. Some of the advantages of using RPA in transportation are:
1. Fewer Transport Check Calls Thru Auto-Tracking Functions
Automatically tracking goods is one of the benefits for companies using RPA in transportation.
Customers can access their accounts to determine where their goods are located.
They can also see when a shipment is expected to arrive and if there are any shipping delays.
The same applies in reverse.
That means companies could use RPA to manage inbound check calls.
This saves countless resources and supports proactive planning.
For example, the customer can make sure to be available to receive any delivery requiring a signature or packages that shouldn’t be left unattended.
RPA in transportation continues to change the game in real time.
This technology allows companies to automate the ability to read and respond to customers and vendors.
Businesses can then update system information based on email interactions to facilitate the efficient and accurate shipping of products.
Auto tracking benefits everyone in the supply chain.
It enables greater visibility into shipping and delivery status. It doesn’t require a human to provide the information, reducing human error risk.
RPA also facilitates disruption management. As issues occur, the system automatically adjusts the processes to account for any changes.
If a hard exception occurs, the system can notify the appropriate party, indicate the issue details, and recommend corrective action.
These automated functions maximize the effectiveness of personnel. Businesses can do more with the same number of people.
2. RPA Routing Freight Orders to the Best Fulfillment Center
One of the most critical ways that RPA supports transportation management is by ensuring freight orders get routed to the best fulfillment center for quick shipments to your customers.
By looking across the entire fulfillment chain and tying multiple systems together, the automated processes ensure maximum supply chain efficiencies that aren’t possible in standalone, on-premise solutions.
It reads documents and replicates fields into a database, processes invoices into the accounting system, validates and corrects free-form data entry into websites, verifies proof of delivery and uploads documents to legacy ERP systems.
It also consolidates social media and chat accounts into one automated system and integrates common customer requests into chat automation.
3. RPA Routing Freight Orders to the Best Fulfillment Center
Shippers and their customers aren’t the only parties that need automated reporting information. RPA in transportation also helps drivers and other parties in the freight management chain to focus their efforts.
All supply chain partners can better understand what’s taking place to ensure needs can be met. Automation ensures freight moves through the network as efficiently as possible.
In turn, faster reporting and embedded analytics help reduce confusion, keep managers focused on end-goals, and improve processes continuously.
4. Assessing Your Business Health and Making Insight-Based Decisions
Insight is key to making the right business decisions. But for companies that lack visibility, automation and accurate data insights, the right decisions can be difficult to formulate.
With proper RPA in transportation, a company can:
- Sharpen its ability to provide quality and efficiency to customers.
- Keep drivers and partners informed.
- Identify areas where the business is struggling with shipping.
- Allow the system to adapt to disruptions automatically as they occur.
- Identify new ways to automate more processes for success.
What do you think about using RPA in automating processes for businesses operating in the logistics and transportation service domains?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below.