Opinion piece: The age of process automation

Schneider Electric

By Hennie Colyn, Direct Sales Executive: Process Automation at Schneider Electric

Over the last 100 years, technical advancements have accelerated automation systems such as process automation, reducing many of the non-value-added processes and enabling designers, engineers and their employers to focus on other, important priorities.

This sentiment is also echoed by a report from analyst group Omdia, Taking Control of Industrial Digital Transformation which highlights the need for plants and processes to utilise automation architectures that support continuous technological renewal.

In fact, we are seeing segments such MMM (mining, minerals and metals), WWW (water and wastewater), CPG (consumer packaged goods), healthcare, renewable energy, chemicals and automotive implementing process automation to design and deliver tailored, industry-specific solutions.

Moreover, with rising number of digitally focussed younger engineers entering industry, process automation has well and truly stepped to the fore. This new generation of engineers are digitally proficient, and their innovative mindset drives the development and implementation of automation solutions.

Process automation in practice

Whilst the above clearly makes a case for process automation, for the layman, the technology still sounds somewhat abstract.

Plainly put, process automation can be defined as the use of software and technologies to automate business processes and functions to accomplish defined organisational goals.  These include producing a product, hiring and onboarding an employee, or providing customer service.

Furthermore, process automation improves efficiency accuracy. It is the golden thread that runs throughout so many organisational processes.

Process automation automates repetitive, rules-based tasks which lead to increased speed and accuracy. It is used to streamline and manage tasks without human intervention.

In practice, it enhances efficiency by reducing errors and accelerating repetitive tasks, leading to cost savings and increased productivity. It allows businesses to focus on strategic decisions and high-value activities.

It enriches the overall customer experience.  Process automation allows organisation to deliver an improved service by for example delivering faster access to resources and answering and/or solving queries. What used to take hours or even days will only take minutes. 

Process automation also scales to integrate with technologies such as AI. Together, process automation and AI provide insights that might be impossible for humans to uncover. Again, this leads to informed and accurate decision making.

By reducing human errors and speeding up processes, process automation and AI enable companies to deliver products and services faster and with greater accuracy. This improved operational efficiency not only leads to cost savings but also enhances customer satisfaction, giving businesses an edge over competitors.

Ultimately, process automation meets the needs of various industries that require automated processes without human intervention that in turn lead to cost savings, improved efficiencies, accurate insights, tailored solutions and enhanced customer service.

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