Robotics and Automation Part 2: All you need to know about Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
*Featured image sourced from: barrymoltz.com
In the previous article of this series we talked about some of the most common industrial robots that are used in the automotive industry. However, automation does not only occur in physical systems but also, in the form of software.
In this article of the Robotics and Automation series, we take a look at Robotic Process Automation.
What is RPA?
RPA is the use of software that has Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities to handle tasks that previously required human intervention. These tasks include – keying in data, solving queries, and performing calculations.
RPA consists of software robots, commonly known as bots that has the ability to mimic a human worker.
RPA is commonly divided into 3 broad categories:
- Probots – a type of bot that follows simple, repeatable rules to process data.
- Knowbots – a type of bot that utilises the Internet to gather and store user-specified information.
- Chatbots – a type of bot that can respond to chats and queries
How does RPA work?
The integration of three key elements drives the main function of RPA – screen capping, workflow automation and AI.
- Screen capping
- Also commonly known as screenshot, is the process of which key display data is collected and converted into a graphics format to be displayed on a user interface to allow easy interaction with its human counterpart.
- Workflow automation
- This technology provides RPA the ability to automate tasks and processes which eliminates the need for manual data entry. The elimination of manual data entry also reduces the risks of human error and can increase the speed, accuracy and efficiency of the processes performed by RPA.
- AI enables RPA to automatically correct irregularities found in data entries, eliminating the need for a manual problem detection process that is usually performed by a human.
Example – when RPA detects a missing data, in an employee’s personal detail form, the software will automatically find the data from previous forms filled by the particular employee. RPA utilises AI to find the data from previous forms of the particular employee and uses screen capping to capture the required data. Workflow automation enables RPA to automatically solve the problem as soon as an irregularity is detected.
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Companies, in particular SMEs, can utilise RPA as it can be easily integrated into existing processes that require human intervention. It enables a company to easily implement and adopt automation into their daily tasks without the need of changing existing infrastructures and systems.
Coupled with its ability to learn and solve issues automatically, it provides easy transition towards adopting automation into a business’s processes.
RPA can help companies improve their efficiency, speed and accuracy in a plethora of areas such as:
- Customer service – enables prompt replies to queries by customers through chatbots
- Cost reduction – reduces the need for human intervention in manual and repetitive tasks such as keying in data, performing calculations and finding missing data
- Productivity – workers can focus on other tasks
- Supply chain management – customer orders, payments and stock management can be automated using RPA. Shipments can also be tracked.
RPA can be a useful tool for companies to begin their journey towards digitalisation. Workers can start focusing on tasks that can only be completed with human intervention which in result, improves productivity rate of the company. Furthermore, there is no need for a reconstruct of infrastructure and systems as RPA can be easily integrated into existing ones, easing the process of adopting automation in one’s company. Plus, there is no need to invest in physical robots.