How robotization of business processes is transforming alcohol industry
CEDC International is a dynamic organization. With the use of UiPath robots, part of this growth does not require additional employment. Simultaneously, the company has become immune to planned and unplanned employee absence and has learnt to cope much better with periodic peaks in business load as robots perform cumulated tasks much faster than humans.
Client: CEDC International
Number of automated processes: 4
Solutions applied: UiPath
Tangible benefit: saving 2 FTEs
Żubrówka, Bols Platinum, Soplica (vodkas), Carlo Rossi (wines), Grant’s, Glenfiddich and Tullamore Dew (whiskies), as well as such alcohols as Metaxa, Jägermeister, Cointreau, Campari, Cinzano, Passoa and Remy Martin – all of which are iconic alcohol brands produced and distributed by CEDC International, one of the world’s leading alcohol companies. CEDC was founded in Poland in the early 1990s. In 2013, CEDC was acquired by Russian Standard Corporation, a subsidiary company of Roust Trading Limited.
CEDC’s rectification equipment in its production plants in Białystok and Oborniki are among the most advanced in the world. Its unique production methods, such as silver and platinum filtration, multiple distillation processes, or reverse osmosis water treatment, give the products their exceptional taste and unrivaled quality, as confirmed by numerous awards and distinctions. Interestingly, it is not only the beverages themselves that are successful but also their innovative packaging. Using the expert knowledge and experience that the company has and always looking for new solutions, CEDC strives to continuously improve the efficiency of its product engineering, advertising, and marketing processes.
The challenge: optimization through digitization and automation
At CEDC, innovation is understood in a modern, broad sense. Although the company operates in a traditional industry, it consciously undertakes projects that fit into the global trends of digital transformation. Minor gains in numerous business areas and the acceleration of various business functions ultimately translate into significant benefits for the entire organization.
Hence, the company is actively looking for ways to optimize business processes with the latest IT technologies. One of the key areas in which such searches are underway is Finance. A dedicated organizational unit is responsible for this.
“Digital transformation is a way to drive an advantage in a competitive market. One of the key directions of digitization in our organization is the automation of business processes. It started with financial functions. This is where processes are the most stable and best described, but they are often complex, prone to errors, and often delayed. First, we focused on implementing an electronic workflow management solution along with an OCR system. Then we decided to go for software robots that were to accelerate processes as well as to free up workforce resources” – [suggested statement by a CEDC representative].
The company has independently indicated the processes that are best suited for robotization and invited specialists from Mindbox to cooperate.
The solution: UiPath robots take over such tasks as data input and application acceptance while exchanging tasks with each other.
The first two processes that have undergone automation are entering new suppliers and customers into the SAP application. These have been extremely monotonous and cumbersome. Employees responsible for the Master Data repository would receive a spreadsheet from the reporting person from the customer’s or supplier’s side with data that needed to be manually copied into the company’s business operating system. While in the case of suppliers, the number of applications was in the area of several dozen per month, the number of new customers would rise every month by 100 up to 200 entities.
The initial success prompted a decision to automate the related processes, including verifying contractors based on the white list of VAT taxpayers supplied by the Ministry of Finance, generating reports to revenue offices, and other SAP system activities, e.g., acceptance of Global ID applications. Owing to the UiPath robot, data is entered into the SAP system automatically. Other robots use these results, and their results are shared again with the previous one.
“A robot inputs data into the SAP system whereby a new user number is created, which is then entered by another robot into the application powered by SharePoint. As soon as the application is entered, another robot takes over from the previous one to verify and acknowledge that the data entered is correct. At this point, the data is sent via e-mail to the first robot that accepts the applications and copies the Global ID number assigned in SharePoint to the SAP system” – Jakub Bugdoll, Intelligent Process Automation Developer.
In this process, robots verify customers in the REGON database. For this, an API provided by the Central Statistical Office is used. Mindbox has created a suitable plugin for the UiPath robot that automatically verifies customer data. As a result, an employee does not need to visit the REGON database website, manually enter the NIP number, and check the information themselves. Interestingly, Mindbox has decided to make this code public to be used for free by all UiPath users.
Robotization projects started in May this year. In less than half a year, four interdependent business processes have been smoothly automated. As usual, the key to success has been good work organization and communication between all project participants. The main developer from Mindbox has been in close contact with the person responsible for robotized processes at CEDC. As a result, it can be said that, apart from some minor technical challenges, the project has been handled extremely smoothly. Undoubtedly, of great importance has also been that the client was well prepared for the project, enabling us to embark on the task immediately.
The benefits: accelerated work (for the organization), time for more business-critical tasks (for employees)
The automation of four processes related to SAP and SharePoint data input freed up a lot of time spent by employees on activities of no business value and disliked by them. As a result, the organization would save up to 2 FTEs (Full-Time Equivalent), which means work done by two full-time employees. Before implementing the UiPath robots, one of the employees responsible for the Master Data area was leaving her job. It was unnecessary to find a replacement for her with automation, and another employee could take on completely new duties.
The company can cope much better with periodic peaks in business load. When suddenly 100 new applications were filed, it would take 3 to 4 days to handle them. Today, with applications being handled within a few minutes by a robot, it takes only one day to process them all. Only in 5% of cases, additional human verification is required. Simultaneously, the entire process is independent of planned or unplanned employee absence – it is essential because setting up a user account in CEDC systems should take no time. This translates into enhanced business continuity.
“The company grows with robots without increasing employment. At the same time, it is better able to cope with periodic peaks in business load. When the number of tasks to be performed increases periodically, robots make it possible to do away with overtime, which has been a commonplace especially in Finance during busy periods” – [suggested statement by a CEDC representative].
Robots have also helped us eliminate errors. With a better quality of data handled by robots, there has been an increase in people’s work efficiency. Fewer data errors are what paved the way for ongoing transformation.
“Usually, processes are automated to relieve employees who can then focus on optimization. Robotization may make it possible to get a bird’s eye view of processes, gaining a better perspective to improve actions taken. Nevertheless, based on high-quality data, robotization can further accelerate automated processes and other benefits. In fact, both strategies are good – robots can be deployed at any time to deliver business value” – [suggested statement by a Mindbox representative].
The robotization of four processes has also triggered a mini-revolution at our company. Mindbox organized a workshop for other CEDC departments, the purpose of which was to pinpoint other processes suitable for robotization.
Today, the person responsible for Master Data and automated processes at CEDC has been promoted to a coordinator role for robotization projects. He no longer has to worry about entering data faster but can focus on the processes across the entire organization, pinpointing those that can bring the most benefits if automated.
It is clear that with Mindbox’s support, the UiPath-based transformation at CEDC is gaining momentum.