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Blog | Feb 4, 2022

Process Mining in Manufacturing and the Supply Chain

Process Mining in Manufacturing and the Supply Chain
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How to identify opportunities for intelligent automation with Process Mining

Manufacturers face ever-evolving macro-challenges, such as changing government policies, international trade wars, and growing environmental concerns, which are introducing huge paradigm shifts across the sector. All of these are further complicated by significant skills shortages, growing cyber threats, and increasing customer needs for greater personalization.

To remain competitive, monetize the opportunities new technologies bring, and drive change faster, safer, and more reliably, manufacturers need to embrace digital transformation and intelligent automation.

Intelligent automation is a set of combined technologies that enable digital workers to deliver more advanced automation capabilities. While digital workers derived from robotic process automation (RPA) have skills used for basic automation, intelligent automation enables digital workers to easily integrate with advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

Digital workers can also master advanced analytical and cognitive automation skills, such as reading documents or performing activities that require rules-based thinking.

Process Mining in Manufacturing and the Supply Chain

Introducing intelligent automation can seem like a daunting task. Many manufacturers have begun with process mining, defined by Gartner as, “a technique designed to discover, monitor and improve real processes…by extracting readily available knowledge from the event logs of information systems.”

Through process discovery and mapping, manufacturing organizations get the visibility to better understand and compare people, processes, and systems against best practices. Full transparency and actionable insights make it easy to optimize processes, so companies can make critical decisions faster and improve results more easily.

Why Deploy Process Intelligence in Manufacturing and the Supply Chain?

Blue Prism Process Intelligence Powered by ABBYY Timeline offers tight integration between process mining, task mining, and intelligent automation. It streamlines the customer journey so organizations can go straight from Process Intelligence to Blue Prism Capture, and finally Blue Prism Design Studio.

This means that, once manufacturers have used Process Intelligence to identify areas for improvement, they can start thinking about how they can deploy digital workers to speed up tasks, improve accuracy and reduce operational costs.

Rather than having expert staff work constantly to move data from one system to another, digital workers can. They can access the same applications and systems as humans, which means they’re able to take on those laborious data handling and migration tasks while freeing up people to undertake higher-value work.

Process Intelligence in manufacturing and the supply chain highlights real-time, real-life instances of productivity being hindered by manual methods or tasks being tackled in ‘serial’ rather than in ‘parallel.’ When multiple systems can be updated simultaneously, teams don’t have to wait on data.

Guide to Process Intelligence

Examples of Process Intelligence in Manufacturing and the Supply Chain

Process Intelligence can be used to analyze inefficiencies across a broad range of systems used by manufacturers, from the shop floor to the back office and through to customer-facing applications. Anywhere that data flows between teams, customers, and suppliers can be analyzed and improved with the help of Process Intelligence. Manufacturers are using it to improve processes across a wide range of applications, including those outlined below.

Here are some use cases for process mining and process intelligence in manufacturing & supply chain:

Identify and remove potential bottlenecks

Supply chain processes are both complex and unpredictable. Orders can be made at any time, which affects inventory levels and bills of materials (BOM) planning. Unforeseen external factors, such as shipment delays, can cause inconsistencies in operational performance. The ability to build a comprehensive view of supply processes using Process Intelligence makes it possible to accurately identify potential bottlenecks, allowing manufacturers to better prepare for the unexpected.

Optimize the supply chain

Using Process Intelligence, manufacturers can analyze how goods and components are moving between different parts of the supply chain. Which third-party suppliers of goods and services are the most efficient and effective? Which customers pay promptly and which always pay late? By having a real-time view, manufacturers can optimize their supply chain to ensure that they can operate a lean, just-in-time inventory model – reducing costs while remaining agile.

Pinpoint deviations from agreed KPIs

Manufacturers often only know they won’t complete or deliver a shipment when it’s too late. With process intelligence, not only can they document how a particular product is manufactured, shipped, or billed for, but they can also set up alerts to warn them of if any deviations are likely to happen from set KPIs. This enables manufacturers to communicate with relevant parties and keep them fully informed on progress.

Forecast spare part requirements

By monitoring data from SCADA, IoT, and maintenance systems, manufacturers can begin to predict when machinery will likely need repairs or replacement. They can build a more accurate picture of the actual costs of maintenance while keeping the storage of spare parts to a minimum.

Track deliveries in real-time

Every manufacturer is valued by their ability to deliver on time and to promise. So, Process Intelligence enables manufacturers to monitor goods at every stage, from shipment to delivery, and keep customers in the loop on progress. On top of that, they can derive insights that enable them to introduce more efficient processes in the future.

What are the Benefits of Deploying Process Mining and Task Mining?

Blue Prism Process Intelligence powered by ABBYY enables manufacturers to easily discover, understand and manage business process execution more effectively.

It does this with end-to-end process visualization, customer journey visibility, intelligent document processing, greater efficiency, compliance risk management, continuous improvement, and cost reduction.

Process Intelligence provides the granular detail needed to understand what’s happening day to day in the supply chain and how manufacturers can do things differently in order to improve, optimize and reimagine the way they operate.

In an era when manufacturers are finding it difficult to recruit and retain engineering and other skilled staff, Process Intelligence and intelligent automation also enable them to do more with less and cope with inconsistent workloads.

Learn more in our top 10 benefits of process mining 

Process Intelligence in Manufacturing and the Supply Chain

As well as optimizing the current supply chain, manufacturers can prepare for an uncertain future by gaining a better understanding of their current operations. Perhaps manufacturers must rethink supply chains to focus on local geographies, for example, or switch quickly to an alternative source of components in the event of government sanctions or business failure.

As the pandemic illustrated all too well, only the agile manufacturer was able to pivot to provide new products and services and to effectively handle the shocks introduced by interrupted component deliveries and a lack of personnel.

Digitizing all of the documents associated with freight shipping is a key element to transforming the supply chain experience, but knowing exactly how they are exchanged between multiple parties – and how this can be improved and accelerated – is just as important.

Creating a ‘digital twin’ of the physical supply chain and associated third-party processes enables manufacturers to model their operations, understand where they can be improved, and build a more resilient model as a result. Automation of inventory, orders, and shipment tracking processes increase accuracy and productivity, freeing up human resources to concentrate on more complex logistical tasks.

Guide to Process Intelligence

Want to Know More About Process Mining?

Download this free guide to learn about accelerating automation with process mining and task mining

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