IT IS NOW POSSIBLE FOR MORE STENA COMPANIES TO INVEST IN ROBOTICS
Robotics is a new trend experiencing rapid growth. The advantage is that processes can quickly and simply be automated. At Stena Rederi, there are now five robots, which can be used by all the companies in the group. First out is Stena Line’s accounts department, which initiated the project.
“We believe that there are considerable benefits when using robots to carry out processes that today have to be performed manually or semi-manually – ¬both because it saves time and money and reduces the risk of errors due to the human element. We’re now hoping that more companies at Stena will be interested. The five robots Stena Rederi has invested in still have a lot of spare capacity”, says Monica Söderbergh, Financial Manager at Stena Line.
Robotics is a relatively new phenomenon so far utilised mainly by insurance companies and banks with many repetitive and time-consuming processes.
“It’s nice knowing that we are at the forefront in the field and that we can see that it’s a new technology that can really contribute a lot. So far, there aren’t that many making use of it, and now we’re trying to build a network so that we can help each other to develop”, says Monica Söderbergh.
The robots can be likened to a type of digital co-worker that can be used to automate rule-based processes. They are at their most advantageous when it is a question of repetitive processes with high transaction volumes and a need for fast response times. A robot is not the same thing as an IT system or program; instead, the robot logs into the systems and works in them in the same way as a normal employee. But neither is it a question of AI – the robots only do what they’ve been told to do and have to fetch data from some digital source they have access to.
“One advantage is, of course, that they can work 24/7 the whole year”, Monica Söderbergh points out.
So far, seven processes have been robotised in Stena Line’s accounts department and more are on the way. The first process, which involved automating the addition of new suppliers to the supplier register, proved in actual fact to consist of several different processes. One of the reasons was that the ability to check the information varies between different countries. In Sweden, the robot can, for example, reconcile the supplier information with Bankgirocentralen, but it needs to use other methods in other countries.
“The advantage of having the robot manage this process is that it fast and removes the risk of double registration at the same time as it constitutes a quality assurance of the information and automatic control of the supplier”, says Monica Söderbergh.
SIMPLE TO DO ON ITS OWN
Another process involves closing the period at the end of each month.
“The action itself took only ten minutes, but there was a vulnerability if the person responsible was absent. Now, we get an e-mail from the robot every month informing us that the period is closed”, says Monica Söderbergh.
In order to be able to handle and create new processes in the department, three employees in the accounts department, Anne Larsson, Edina Hadziosmanagic and Caroline Dahl have attended a training course. This means that it is now a relatively simple matter to robotise new processes without requiring help from the IT department.
“Setting up a new process doesn’t require any programming and, instead, functions more as a highly sophisticated macro in Excel. The input required is a detailed description of the process itself and each new process takes about two weeks to set up”, says Monica Söderbergh.
Also other parts of Stena Line are beginning to look at the opportunities for robotising different processes.
“Stena Fastigheter and Stena Metall have also been in touch and we hope that even more companies will. We are more than happy to help and share our experience with everybody wanting to know more about the possibility of streamlining and quality assuring their work”, says Monica Söderbergh.
PROCESSES SUITABLE FOR ROBOTISATION
- Rule-based processes with digital input. Requirement
- Repetitive processes with high transaction volumes. Advantage
- Processes requiring a fast response. Advantage.
- Processes with historically many errors due to the human element. Advantage
- Around 4 of 5 rule-based processes are well suited for robotisation.
- Robotisation is also highly suitable for cleaning up in different processes.
ADVANTAGES OF ROBOTICS
- Saves both time and money – theoretically, it is said that one robot can take over tasks equivalent to the time needed by 9 persons. The cost of a robot is approx. SEK 100,000/year if the operation of at least five robots is managed.
- Takes over boring, repetitive tasks and frees up time for other work. Can work 24/7 all the year round.
- Increases traceability and reduces the risk of both errors and fraud.
- Provides quality assurance of information and processes.
- Extremely fast implementation in relation to other IT tools.
HELP NAME THE ROBOTS
- Do you have any suggestions for names of Stena’s five robots? If so, you can e-mail your suggestions to: email@example.com
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