18 Mar Retail: Cutting-edge inventory management with RPA
For the food trade, up-to-date inventory management is indispensable. Manual, error-prone process steps or the use of legacy mainframe systems can disrupt processes. A large German food trading company therefore relies on Robotic Process Automation (RPA) in inventory management. The result: Exceeded expectations and more than 90 percent faster process management.
Food spoils quickly. If products are not in stock, customers buy elsewhere. For these reasons, the food retailer wants to optimize a business-critical storage process. The prerequisite: the product inventory and new store orders must be correctly recorded in the central merchandise management system at the head office on fixed dates.
Challenges: Decentralization & Mainframe
However, each market works with its own SAP system. The central merchandise management system at the head office also runs on a mainframe application. Although this application is highly stable, it is technologically outdated and does not offer any interfaces for data exchange with SAP systems. As a result, several employees are assigned to manual data transfer to the mainframe system on a monthly basis. A lengthy, monotonous and above all error-prone process. The consequences:
- Unsatisfied customers and loss in turnover. Because of outdated and incorrect inventory management, products are not available in the markets.
- No transparency for management, logistics & reporting. For reporting and forward-looking logistics and financial planning, management needs a constantly up-to-date view of the correct inventory.
Inventory management with RPA: better, faster, up-to-date
Due to the complex, manual process, the company opted for automation with the RPA solution XceleratorOne (X1) from Servicetrace. The reading of inventory data from the decentralized SAP systems as well as data checking and transfer to the central merchandise management system are now completely automated. The interface is an Excel file in which the data from the SAP systems is consolidated. Then the automatic input and further processing into the mainframe application begins.
The result: The complete automation process for data transmission now only takes one and a half hours instead of several working days. At the same time, data quality and process stability have increased to almost 100%. This leads to an always up-to-date and transparent inventory management, which serves as an important basis for decision-making for the management.
A further side effect: The employees are relieved of manual work. This gives them three more working days per month for value-adding tasks.
Efficiency for success: Fast and simple automation in just a few days
With the help of the simple, intuitive X1 solution, the project team was able to design the automation process within a few days.
For successful process automation, it was initially important to correctly record the relevant process. BPMN 2.0 is a common standard format for modeling business processes. The selected XceleratorOne platform is a pioneer in this respect and enables the modeling of processes directly in the BPMN 2.0 standard. Using this process model, users then design the concrete automation process and configure it for operation with just a few clicks.
Customer requirements: Stability and scalability of automation
As this is a business critical process in inventory management, stability and reliability played a very important role in the execution of the automation for the food retailer. That is another reason why the customer chose Servicetrace: The X1 platform offers numerous functions and mechanisms to avoid disruptions and ensure high stability.
One of them is the “Protector”: The Protector checks each quarter of a second whether any possible pop-up windows could interfere with the execution of the automation process. In addition, numerous quality assurance features are integrated into the software to prevent malfunctions or, if the worst comes to the worst, to remedy them very quickly.
Another important selection criterion was the scalability of the RPA solution. If there are more bookings than usual in a given period, these must nevertheless be processed on time on the due date and with consistent quality. X1 offers a special scaling approach with the multiple patented X1 Secure Session technology: Based on the existing automation infrastructure, a multiple of processing capacities can be provided within a very short time – without additional hardware and software installations. This “on-demand breathing” of machining capacity is unique in the market and allows X1 customers to scale their automation extremely quickly and cost-effectively.
Why X1 by Servicetrace?
1. Innovative, comprehensive product functions
2. High quality and stability
3. High & low cost scalability
4. Simple, intuitive user guidance