The secret to automating everyday processes with RPA

cj logistics america, rpa, automation

Robotic process automation (RPA), a technology that automates everyday data-intensive processes that have often been performed in rote, time-consuming fashion by humans, has been gaining traction in the last few years, and CJ Logistics is one company seeing the positive results of its implementation. 

CJ Logistics’ transportation management team identified RPA technology as a way to create more capacity for employees to create value for customers. Automating processes increases efficiency, helping to service customers better and decrease costs.

The transportation team looked at high frequency manual processes to identify highly repetitive, previously successful processes to replicate. “We looked to processes that were very stable and well documented because we understand the need for a process to get to a state of maturity before RPA,” said Tim Mahoney, Senior Director, Transportation Integration and Support. They observed a human doing a process to determine time-based ROI. They determined that automating the task had to lead to quality improvement, better ROI, and had to result in allowing a human to be free to do more meaningful work. Then, as with any technology, they designed, implemented, tested and deployed.

As the team has carefully rolled out the RPA initiative, they’ve seen positive results. So far, eight bots are currently running, with each bot requiring six weeks for development and testing. While one of the concerns about implementing technology like RPA is the fear of the potential loss of jobs, this is not the case in the transportation management center. “The implementation of RPA has allowed people to move up to more value-add work for our customers rather than see jobs eliminated,” said Chief Transportation Officer Ken Heller, “We see it as spurring continuous improvement and facilitating growth for CJ Logistics.” Engaged in the initiative, employees are asking for more RPA because they want to service customers better. Costs have gone down dramatically, and service levels have remained high. One of the team’s challenges now is how to establish governance.

According to Gartner, spending on RPA software was over $1.5 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow nearly 20 percent in 2021. Deloitte predicts that RPA will hit “nearly universal adoption” in the business world at some point in 2023. Perhaps the global pandemic has motivated more organizations toward automation in general, particularly around the types of repetitive, mundane, computer-based tasks and processes that RPA automates.

As more companies like CJ Logistics have adopted RPA technology, there is a shift to measuring and re-evaluating its effectiveness, to asking whether RPA strategy is delivering meaningful results. Understanding and optimizing processes is essential because, while RPA enables a process to run automatically, on its own it does not improve the process.

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