Across industries, automation can help companies manage tedious or repetitive tasks.
Modern automation solutions can handle a variety of work, and technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) allow businesses to automate certain tasks that usually require human labor.
See below for five case studies that show how companies from various sectors are using automation to accelerate work, reduce errors, and improve productivity:
Ride-sharing giant Uber has expanded rapidly over the past few years, introducing new services, expanding across the globe, and attempting to court new audiences.
Uber found that, as the company grew, it needed a solution to automate repetitive administrative tasks. The company teamed up with Accenture to automate these processes with UiPath robotic process automation (RPA).
With robotic process automation, companies can automate tasks using digital robots that follow preset rules and algorithms. Uber used RPA across the organization, beginning with the automation of financial processes.
RPA was also essential in the development and growth of Uber Freight, the company’s logistics services division. Uber Freight used RPA to automate transactions, reducing invoice errors, and improving customer satisfaction.
Automation solution: UiPath RPA
- Three years after adopting RPA, Uber has more than 100 automation processes in production, saving the company an estimated $10 million per year.
- RPA allowed Uber Freight to standardize its billing system to better handle invoices from customers and shippers.
2. AMN Healthcare
Nursing employment agency AMN Healthcare is a leader in U.S. health care staffing. The company helps place nurses at hospitals and medical centers around the country.
Ensuring that nurses are paid on time is one of the most important activities for AMN, but it’s also one of the most time-consuming.
The process requires AMN Healthcare’s hospital and medical center clients to fill out timecards that document each nurse’s hours completed. The nurses then file these timecards with AMN Healthcare for payment. Before paying nurses, AMN Healthcare must review the timecards to ensure they are accurate.
“We estimated that we were processing around 4,000 of these timecards each week, which amounted to 8,000 hours annually,” says Jeff Stratton, senior project manager, AMN Healthcare.
“Over time, we found that the system we used for checking and processing timecards no longer delivered optimum efficiency — with the system prone to human error and occasionally crashing. Because of these inefficiencies, around 200 timecards would go missing each year.”
Company leaders wanted to use process automation to streamline checking and processing timecards. To do so, AMN Healthcare teamed up with Genus Technologies, which uses Kofax RPA, Kofax TotalAgilityT, and Kofax Analytics.
Using these automation solutions, AMN Healthcare was able to automate timecard processing, both ensuring that nurses are paid on time and almost eliminating the risk of lost timecards.
Industry: Health care staffing
Automation solutions: Kofax RPA, Kofax TotalAgility, and Kofax Analytics
- AMN Healthcare has significantly reduced both the time necessary to process timecards and the frequency of processing errors.
- Total number of labor hours necessary for processing timecards was reduced from 8,000 to 2,600.
- The risk of lost payments and timecards was “almost completely eliminated.”
Big Four accounting firm Deloitte provides a variety of services — including auditing, consulting, tax, and advisory services — to some of the largest companies in the world.
To effectively provide these services, Deloitte needs to keep an archive of global regulations, tax law, and accounting theory on hand. The company’s technical library, as a result, is so large the company’s employees started to have trouble navigating it.
And while the technical library had a search engine, employees found its functionality to be limited.
“You have to enter very specific search criteria to use it,” says Twan van Gool, director of innovation and analytics within the audit department at Deloitte.
Employees would search for individual keywords, only to find that the search engine returned far too many results to be useful.
To solve this problem, the analytics and innovation team opted to create a smart chatbot that can help employees find the resources they need. The chatbot is designed to respond to questions phrased in natural language.
In practice, the chatbot works more like an automated librarian than a search engine, providing relevant resources based on a specific question that a user may have.
Automation solutions: In-house smart chatbot
- The technical library search process was simplified for employees.
- Users could perform more advanced searches of the technical library.
- The chatbot gathers valuable information on employee search behavior and user satisfaction, allowing library managers to update its algorithm or potentially update resources.
4. Harmonic Machine Inc.
Precision machining company Harmonic Machine Inc. was operating at maximum capacity, despite a number of major recent investments, including new machines and new staff. As a result, the company was missing out on potential growth opportunities with key clients.
Hiring additional staff to improve production capacity would be a challenge, as the company’s CNC machines were occupied during the day. New staff would have to work third shift, where it is difficult to hire experienced machinists.
To solve this problem, Harmonic decided to look for an automation solution that would be easily programmed and managed by existing staff. The company adopted Ready Robotics’ Forge/Station, an all-in-one machine automation solution, running Forge/OS to power an automated workcell.
The Forge/Station was equipped with a Universal Robots UR10 arm and mobile base capable of handling a variety of tasks and tools, without making the robot’s internals more difficult to access and maintenance more challenging.
Within two weeks of deployment, the company had the new automated workcell up and running, without support from the Ready team.
Harmonic says the automated workcell has enabled the company to take on new projects and grow its relationships with clients. Adoption of the technology was so successful that Harmonic is now planning to integrate automation into existing manual workcells.
Automation solutions: Forge/Station, Forge/OS, and Universal Robots UR10 arm and mobile base
- New workcell enabled Harmonic to accept additional projects and more work with existing clients.
- Achieved 100% machine utilization with 24/6 uptime for a year with no issues.
- Harmonic now has plans to extend automation to existing manual workcells.
5. Redington Gulf
Supply chain company Redington Gulf works with 245 international brands in 37 markets and operates a network of over 34,000 channel partners.
Managing distribution at this scale can be a major challenge. Scale can also make it difficult to ensure supply chain agility, meaning a company may be less able to respond to changing market conditions and client needs.
To improve productivity and end-to-end customer experience, Redington Gulf used intelligent automation (IA), which includes AI-powered technologies that assist workers in performing important tasks.
Many of these tasks can be difficult to automate with more conventional automation solutions. Because IA uses artificial intelligence, it can often automate work that more conventional solutions wouldn’t be able to handle.
Redington Gulf used the OutSystems low-code IA platform, allowing the company to develop automation solutions in house. With these solutions, the company automated processes in three issue areas: payment processing, vendor rebate tracking, and data management.
Before intelligent automation, Redington Gulf handled payment processing manually. Because the company receives bank transfers from thousands of partners daily, this task was a major undertaking.
To streamline payment processing, Redington Gulf used OutSystems to build an intelligent automation tool that collects information and approvals being transferred to the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, allowing the company to accelerate processing and automatically identify duplicate entries. As a result, the company was able to reduce turnaround time by a factor of 10.
Intelligent automation also helped the company develop a vendor rebate tracker, which increased rebate processing productivity by 70%.
By creating these solutions and adopting IA, Redington Gulf created a single source of truth on data from across the company. Centralizing data like this helps to improve both data quality and transparency.
Automation solutions: OutSystems Intelligent Automation
- Intelligent automation solutions enabled Redington Gulf to reduce payment processing time, increase productivity, and improve data visibility.
- The company created a single source of truth for data relevant to daily operations.