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When we think about manufacturing in the year 2020, we can rightly speak in terms of ‘smart factories’, equipped with 3D printing facilities or devices that are compatible with IoT. Robotic process automation in manufacturing is also among the innovative technologies that allow for significant time reduction in order processing, product manufacturing, and dispatching to customers and thereby ensure a competitive advantage for your company.

However, a 2020 outlook on the manufacturing industry from Deloitte informs that only a fifth of the surveyed manufacturers feels ready to deal with the profound changes brought about by the digital revolution.

“A 2020 outlook on the manufacturing industry from Deloitte informs that only a fifth of the surveyed manufacturers feel ready to deal with the profound changes brought about by the digital revolution.”

The biggest such change whose effects must be internalised is perhaps the switch from physical to software robots. Our current discussion of real world use cases of RPA in manufacturing can be seen as an attempt to facilitate this paradigm shift.

If you’re interested in reading about more use cases for robotic process automation in other industries, head over to the blog. This article is part of our pragmatically oriented series, where you can learn about concrete application areas of RPA in various domains, such as the public sector, media, insurance, banking, HR, retail, to mention but a few.

Top robotic process automation use cases in manufacturing

Let’s have a look at some top application areas of RPA in manufacturing. The list should clarify what software robots can accomplish in production, and, consequently, diminish the reserves regarding its ‘untamable’ disruptive potential.

1. Bill of Materials (BOM)

This is a crucial document in manufacturing; it comprises an extensive list of materials and components necessary to create a new product. Its main function is to offer employees all the information they need regarding the journey towards the development of new commodities, that is, what, when, where from, and how to purchase.

Errors at any of these points can have a negative chain effect on the rest of the production cycle, and thus lead to massive losses for your company. Therefore, RPA with its capacity for quasi error proof task performance is indeed called for, because it is conducive to accurate and on-time process completion.

2. Administration and reporting

Manufacturing companies have to deal with a wide range of process problems, and this can pose a significant overload on the administration departments. RPA deployment can be your ace in the sleeve for efficiently organising administration.

All the reports you need in order to have a crystal clear, functional image of production can be created accurately and fast with the help of bots. Further down the causal chain, this will facilitate effective decision making regarding the business paths to be followed for the achievement of your most desirable outcomes.

3. Data migration

We live in an era of dynamic, fast paced upgrades in the manufacturing industry. In order to ensure the regularity of business policies as well as a consistent integration of novel acquisitions in the production cycle, moving data from old to new systems is part and parcel of the tasks involved in a manufacturing industry that is set to evolve.

The risk of error for manual performance is high and costly; given that systems are inherently interconnected, it is likely that compound errors arise. Robotic process automation can speed up execution and cancel out the risk of error, yielding more productive outcomes, which is why data migration is a typical real world use case of RPA in manufacturing.

4. Invoice processing

The process requires interaction between several people who must carry out numerous checking and approving procedures of the invoices that come about in a variety of formats and languages. As always, concerted efforts are prone to error; the risk of error is amplified by the tediousness of the task, which can diminish employees’ focus.

Employee A’s accidental misclick in column X instead of column Y, for instance, can have a domino effect, propagating far into the manual invoice processing network, and leading to hard-to-trace negative consequences. Software robots, on the other hand, can go fast through the forms, enter the information into the system at the right place, and forward the updated documents to the requisite department for approval.

5. Inventory control

When performed manually, this back office process is very labour-intensive. Variability in supplier delivery and customer demand leads to a lack of predictability that complicates process completion even more. The result? Inefficient inventory turnover, and difficulties in meeting the fluctuating demand.

Use of bots to automate emails, procurement processes, paperwork digitization, and to monitor inventory levels and customer demand, identifies and improves deficiencies. Some concrete gains are enhanced operational efficiency, significant cost reductions, or improved communication with both suppliers and customers.

6. Regulatory compliance

Automation platforms such as UiPath ensure the security of processing sensitive company data as well as customer and supplier data, because no process-related data is stored. Bots’ actions are fully transparent, and available for inspection in a central log. As a consequence, the data needed for audits can be gathered in no time.

Finally, use of RPA in manufacturing allows for effortless process updates, which makes it much easier to keep track with the frequent changes in compliance regulations.


The partnership between General Electric (GE) and UiPath provides a successful example of leveraging RPA in manufacturing. The objective of the Fortune 500 manufacturing company was scaling automation across the entire business in order to unlock its full benefits and boost productivity.

By establishing an RPA Centre of Excellence, GE with the help of UiPath was able to train specialists to use RPA, and thus warranted the strategic maintenance of the system. Results were so promising that GE decided to continue the venture towards intelligent automation, including BPM and machine learning.

The list of real world use cases of robotic process automation in manufacturing and the example of General Electric back the claim that bots enhance the operational capability of manufacturing companies, helping them to become more competitive.

Information gathering, data analysis, and processing, process accuracy, the pursuit of effective innovation, etc. – all of the above are among the benefits that RPA can bring to manufacturers. Have you started your automation journey?

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