Here is the latest article in an eWEEK feature series called IT Science, in which we look at what actually happens at the intersection of new-gen IT and legacy systems.
Unless it’s brand new and right off various assembly lines, servers, storage and networking inside every IT system can be considered “legacy.” This is because the iteration of both hardware and software products is speeding up all the time. It’s not unusual for an app-maker, for example, to update and/or patch for security purposes an application a few times a month, or even a week. Some apps are updated daily! Hardware moves a little slower, but manufacturing cycles are also speeding up.
These articles describe new-gen industry solutions. The idea is to look at real-world examples of how new-gen IT products and services are making a difference in production each day. Most of them are success stories, but there will also be others about projects that blew up. We’ll have IT integrators, system consultants, analysts and other experts helping us with these as needed.
This eWEEK IT Science article is based on industry information from Chris Huff, chief strategy officer of Kofax.
Today’s Topic: Using Robotics to Handle Mundane Business Processes
Name the problem to be solved: Founded in 2009 and based in Atlanta, Redwood Logistics is an industry-leading supply chain solutions provider. It offers a wide range of transport and freight management services to a variety of customers in the manufacturing, retail and distribution sectors specializing in less-than-truckload (LTL) transport.
Prior to its acquisition by Redwood Logistics, LTX Solutions was fulfilling 3,000 orders per month with a 12-person delivery team. During this time, tracking and auditing were handled manually, and employees would then individually relay updates to customers. To keep pace with business growth, LTX Solutions determined that it would need to hire at least five more people to complete this follow-up work.
“We were eager to streamline routine processes, while also maintaining current staffing levels. It became clear that robotic process automation [RPA] could help us with our scalability challenges, and we began exploring the leading technical solutions on the market,” said Redwood Logistics Vice President of Business Development Andrew Gleason.
Describe the strategy that went into finding the solution: To drive greater efficiency into the business, LTX Solutions implemented Kofax RPA smart software robots that were able to automate key business processes. The organization was impressed with the flexibility and speed at which individual robots could be deployed.
The first Kofax RPA smart software robot was developed and deployed within two hours, based on previously developed templates. Today, there are 60 Kofax RPA smart software robots inherited from LTX Solutions and in use within Redwood Logistics, with plans to expand into other business operations.
“Before we knew it, we had automated our entire tracking process, in less time than it would normally take to process orders for the day,” Gleason said.
List the key components in the solution: To drive greater efficiencies, Redwood Logistics implemented Kofax RPA smart software robots to automate key aspects of its business processes. The company was particularly impressed with the flexibility of the Kofax solution, as well as the speed at which individual robots could be deployed. Components included:
- Kofax RPA smart software robots
- Kofax RPA software robot templates
“Kofax RPA transformed our business. It eliminated a lot of time-consuming manual work in a very short space of time, and our internal users are grateful they don’t have to do so much paper-chasing,” Gleason said.
Describe how the deployment went, perhaps how long it took, and if it came off as planned: “We sat down with the Kofax team, and within two hours we had a working robot,” Gleason said. “They walked us through the whole process of building one from the Kofax RPA templates, and we were amazed by just how simple it was. The Kofax team was very diligent with their support, and explained to us the ins and outs of how it worked. Before we knew it, we had automated our entire tracking process in less time than it would take to process orders for one day."
Following this initial success, Redwood Logistics quickly expanded its use of RPA. Today, there are 60 Kofax RPA smart software robots in use at Redwood Logistics, and the company plans to extend the solution across its broader business in the near future.
Describe the result, new efficiencies gained and what was learned from the project:
By the numbers:
- 10,000 orders processed per month
- 3X growth in business volume since using Kofax RPA
- 12 employees manage expanded business operations
Since adopting Kofax RPA, Redwood Logistics has tripled order volumes while keeping staffing costs steady.
"We used to process 3,000 orders a month, and now it's over 10,000," Gleason said. "That's 300% growth in business volume since implementing Kofax RPA, and there’s still plenty of room for us to expand our operations further while maintaining our core team."
Redwood Logistics has automated the majority of its tracking and auditing processes, allowing employees to focus attention elsewhere. "The tracking process runs near-completely automatic now," Gleason explained. "We still have people check on things once in a while to ensure the RPA estate is functioning well, but otherwise the system just runs, and our customers get live updates on the ETAs of their orders much faster than when we were performing those tasks manually.”
The auditing process is much faster as well. Instead of having to manually check each invoice for anomalies or surcharges, Kofax RPA robots automatically flag extra charges or discrepancies and alert the company’s accounts department so they can handle them directly. That means Redwood Logistics can resolve any ambiguities or extra charges faster, and customers receive more accurate bills than was previously possible, helping them keep their accounts in proper order.
Describe ROI, carbon footprint savings and staff time savings, if any: Using Kofax RPA, Redwood Logistics was able to triple order volume while keeping costs steady. Prior to streamlining operations, Redwood Logistics processed 3,000 orders a month, jumping to more than 10,000. That is a 300% growth in business volume. “We achieved the full ROI for our investment in just nine months,” Gleason said.
The company’s entire order-tracking process is now almost completely automatic. This saves employees time while also improving the overall customer experience. Customers are now able to receive live updates on the estimated time of arrival (ETA) for their orders much faster than when the tasks were being performed manually.
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