How RPA Can Be Implemented In The Mechanical Engineering Industry

April 04, 2022


How RPA Can Be Implemented In The Mechanical Engineering Industry

When it comes to modern manufacturing and mechanical engineering, many of the processes that previously required hands-on operation are now carried out by robots. Since the arrival of Industry 4.0 and the implementation of the industrial internet of things (IIoT), the world of mechanical engineering is more interconnected than ever before. 

However, while the operations of the modern assembly line may be enacted autonomously by robots, there are still specific processes that require input from human employees. For example, areas such as manufacturing execution systems, quality control, and supply chain management may require monitoring or data input, carried out by humans, to operate effectively. 

That being said, with the advancement of robotic process automation (RPA), these mundane tasks can now be carried out by virtual robots, not unlike the assembly line robots building the products. Continue reading to learn more about RPA and how it’s helping the mechanical engineering industry adapt to the brave new world.

What is Robotic Process Automation?

Robotic process automation is software that learns and carries out virtual tasks. RPA is best reserved for repetitive, rule-based tasks, such as data entry. The best tasks for RPA are:

  • Repetitive
  • Rule-based
  • Expected inputs and outputs
  • High in volume

Tasks such as resourcing processing, data entry, time card management, and other routine tasks can be carried out by RPAs, freeing up humans to focus their attention on more demanding areas. 

Before being able to complete the desired task, RPAs must be taught what it’s supposed to do. A person can teach the RPA what it is supposed to do by performing the desired task(s) in the desired order. Once taught, the RPA can replicate said task with outstanding speed and efficiency. 

Although RPAs are not artificial intelligence (AI), they can be employed in conjunction with AIs, which can teach them the desired tasks. Of course, this requires a much more complex setup than simply teaching the RPA. 

Teaching an RPA to carry out tasks doesn’t require extensive coding knowledge and can be completed relatively quickly. 

How RPA Can Benefit the Mechanical Engineering Industry

Mechanical engineering requires a lot of data entry, from order processing to resource planning. As such, it is evident that RPA can help to optimize the various necessary workflows. 

One example of how RPA can support a modern mechanical engineering company is KUKA, a Germany-based robot manufacturer. When KUKA first turned to RPA, it was meant to be a temporary automation fix as the IT team developed and integrated their own proprietary IT systems.  

Patrick Zech, an Operation Excellence (OpEx) Project Manager at KUKA, had this to say about bringing RPA into their existing landscape:

“RPA proved to be a solution for quickly automating these processes. Close inter-disciplinary cooperation between IT, specialist departments, and OpEx - in particular during the initial phase and the realization of the PoC - ensured a rapid and seamless implementation of RPA.”

After turning to RPA as a temporary solution, KUKA now automates as many as 50 processes with RPA. Processes that KUKA automates include collecting data to prepare reports in the controlling department, transferring internal spare parts orders to their ERP system, and updating employee details in their HR system. If you would like to know more about KUKA’s use of RPA, you can find more information here

Overall, RPA benefits mechanical engineering enterprises by freeing up employees from performing mundane, repetitive tasks, so that they can focus on more important areas of the business. Furthermore, RPA improves speed and efficiency, cutting out human error.

Much like modern mechanical engineering, which utilizes robots to assemble products, RPA leverages seamless automation solutions to ensure operational processes are carried out precisely.