- Robotics Process Automation (RPA) has generated a 43% time reduction for processes like billing, credit, collections, according to an Information Services Group (ISG) study.
- Supply Management reports vendor management, recruitment and talent management could be processed 32% faster, and invoicing 34% more quickly. The study also revealed 72% of companies would rely on RPA by 2019 to improve productivity, increase compliance, reduce costs and compress transaction times.
- For now, robots and humans are working together for these and other efficiency improvements, but some job losses can be expected as automation becomes more sophisticated.
Robotics adoption continues to grow at breakneck speeds according to figures from the Robotics Industries Association. In fact, last quarter recorded the strongest ever first-quarter results, as a high of 9,773 robots worth roughly $516 million were ordered from North American robotics companies, signaling a 32% gain year-over-year.
Accordingly, product shipments also rose with 8,824 robots valued at close to $494 million sent to U.S. consumers in the first quarter. Compared to 2016, the first quarter has seen a 24% increase in units 5% growth in profits within robotics.
The numbers don't lie: Robots are becoming more ubiquitous within the economy, and it's easy to see why. The ISG report shows the vast efficiencies that can be gained from automation, not just in the materials handling world but also in other supply chain tasks like procurement, vendor management or invoicing.
Yet, with an increase in automation also comes growing fear of worker displacement due to robots. After all, new technology is visibly taking hold throughout the supply chain: Amazon, UPS and FedEx boast fully-automated fulfillment centers; ports are eyeing similar technology for terminals; and even Wal-Mart's white-collar workers have suffered at the hands of systems improvements.
In response, some companies are actively retraining their workforce to help them gain new, more needed skills. The common narrative supported by this report is that the jobs that will be displaced rely on rote labor, including tasks like picking at a warehouse or even invoicing. As a result, supply chain talent will increasingly rely on softer skills like management and analysis in the future.