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Automation in Manufacturing: benefits and real-world cases

SEPTEMBER 11, 2023

In today's rapidly evolving global business landscape, manufacturing companies face a multitude of challenges. From changing customer expectations to market disruptions and the ongoing impact of the global pandemic, manufacturers are under increasing pressure to adapt, innovate, and deliver outstanding customer experiences.

Business Process Automation (BPA) has emerged as a way to tackle those challenges, improving processes and driving success. Through automation of tasks, BPA accelerates process execution, enhances accuracy, and ensures consistent compliance with predefined rules. BPA has the advantage of addressing various business activities, from simple transactional workflows to complex case management scenarios.

In this article, we will explore how Business Process Automation is transforming the manufacturing sector.

4 ways Business Process Automation can transform manufacturing processes

  1. Supply chain management: BPA platforms allow manufacturers to orchestrate and optimize supply chain processes. By doing so, it first ensures timely procurement of materials, efficient inventory management, and real-time tracking of shipments. And second, it leads to reduced lead times, lower operational costs, and enhanced overall supply chain visibility.

  2. Quality control and assurance: Manufacturers are leveraging BPA to automate quality control processes, such as product inspections and defect detection. By integrating IoT sensors and AI-driven analytics, manufacturers can identify issues in real-time. This leads to improved product quality.

  3. Customer order fulfillment: BPA platforms are streamlining order fulfillment processes, from order placement to shipping and delivery. By automating order processing, manufacturers can ensure accurate and timely deliveries, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

  4. Service and maintenance: Manufacturers are using BPA platforms to optimize service and maintenance operations. Through predictive analytics and remote monitoring, manufacturers can anticipate equipment failures, schedule preventive maintenance, and minimize downtime. This leads to increased operational efficiency and customer uptime.

Automation in manufacturing: 3 real-world use cases

1. Bosch: Developing a fully automated digital factory

Bosch is a leading global supplier of technology and services. Its operations are divided into four business sectors: Mobility, Industrial Technology, Consumer Goods, and Energy and Building Technology.

During FlowFest’22, Flowable’s annual automation conference, Bosch illustrated how they used Business Process Automation to address several workflow and automation needs in their semiconductor manufacturing facilities. They utilized BPA to automate various manufacturing processes, including engineering change management, production route setup, quality management and more, addressing challenges such as manual tasks, communication inefficiencies, and complex quality management.

What Bosch achieved with Business Process Automation is incredible: Bosch implemented standardized workflows that streamlined operations, leading to a more efficient manufacturing environment. Automation reduced manufacturing process times significantly, decreasing it from 60 minutes to 15 minutes. Additionally to speeding up processes, Bosch minimized human errors in complex manufacturing processes, resulting in more accurate outcomes. Watch their full talk during FlowFest’22 here.

2. Great Dane: Streamlining complexity

Great Dane is a prominent player in the transportation solutions industry, known for durable and high-quality trailers and truck bodies. It’s a great example of an enterprise that uses a Business Process Automation platform like Flowable to revolutionize manufacturing processes and drive success.

Great Dane manages a supply chain with thousands of individual components and deliver thousands of finished products each month. Manual tasks, time-consuming operations, and the need for increased agility led Great Dane to seek a solution to optimize its processes. To tackle the complexity of its supply chain and to enhance transparency, Great Dane created an application called Supplier LEAN Alert, which was designed to automate supplier issues. It allows employees to track and manage work orders throughout their lifecycle.

The outcome is clear: Great Dane was able to reduce complexity and errors, resolving component and supplier-related issues more efficiently. Great Dane's success exemplifies how Business Process Automation is transforming manufacturing by addressing complex challenges, streamlining processes, and enhancing transparency. The full success story is available here.

3. Exentra: Efficient resources management and cost tracking

Exentra is an innovative software forge for next-generation business intelligence software, offering user-friendly solutions for systematic information gathering and evaluation. Exentra leveraged Business Process Automation to build a Digital Twin to improve the management and understanding of manufacturing processes.

They implemented various use cases using Flowable’s Business Process Automation platform, ultimately allowing them to:

  • track costs more accurately, linking data directly to products through the digital twin.

  • validate product configurations and ensured that prototypes were buildable by using BPMN and simulation processes.

  • efficiently manage test vehicles by listening to processes and updating the digital twin accordingly.

Building on their remarkable success, Exentra plans to leverage machine learning, artificial intelligence, to build a knowledge hub, and conduct retrospective analyses for continuous improvement. Watch their full talk during FlowFest’22 here.

Benefits of Business Automation for manufacturers

Let’s have a broader look at some on the most important benefits of Business Process Automation for Manufacturers:

  • Enhanced efficiency: BPA streamlines processes, reduces manual intervention, and eliminates bottlenecks, leading to increased operational efficiency and reduced cycle times.

  • Improved customer experience: By automating customer interactions and providing personalized, consistent experiences, manufacturers can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.

  • Agility and innovation: BPA enables manufacturers to quickly adapt to changing market conditions, introduce new products, and innovate their processes. This allows them to stay ahead of the competition.

  • Resource optimization: BPA leads to cost savings and improved resource management by optimizing resource allocation and supporting data-driven decisions.

Addressing challenges with BPA

Business Process Automation is revolutionizing the manufacturing sector by addressing the challenges posed by changing customer expectations, market disruptions, and the impact of the global pandemic. It is revolutionizing manufacturing by addressing challenges from changing customer expectations, market disruptions, and the global pandemic.

By leveraging BPA platforms, manufacturers can enhance efficiency, drive innovation, and deliver exceptional customer experiences, ultimately positioning themselves as industry leaders in a rapidly evolving landscape. As manufacturers continue their digital transformation journey, embracing Business Process Automation becomes a critical step toward achieving sustainable growth and success.

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