NSG Group is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of glass and glazing products for the architectural, automotive, and technical glass sectors. Founded in 1918, the company acquired a leading UK-based glass manufacturer, Pilkington plc in June 2006. With headquarters in Japan and principal operations in 30 countries, they employ 27,000 people.
Based in Poland, China and Brazil, NSG’s Group Business Services operation of 320 employees manage the shared services for the whole organization. With an increasing volume of work and finite amount of resources and space for new people, NSG Group looked to robotic process automation (RPA) to help process repetitive tasks and allow their team to focus on more productive and satisfying work.
— Iwona Guerrache, Master Data Services and RPA Team Leader
Partnering with Automation Anywhere, NSG Group selected a number of simple but high-volume tasks across the business to demonstrate the value of RPA. Everyday processes for IT, such as creating SAP accounts, that had taken five minutes to create manually, were executed in just 50 seconds with automation. Other processes used to test RPA included checking both Finance and HR reports. As a result, processing times were reduced from 10 minutes to just 40 seconds. The impressive testing results convinced NSG Group to implement Automation Anywhere RPA and officially launchtheir automation program.
Initially, there was some employee resistance to implementing RPA, but then one small bot accurately processed the manual, repetitive process of printing ARIBA reports, a suite of web-based statements such as orders and tracked invoices, for the Finance department. This helped save 720 hours and employees were totally convinced.
To help reduce workload, one of the first processes automated was for NSG’s active directory. The Windows tool was used to create online accounts, logins and User IDs for new employees. Manually, this process took an hour for each new user. With automation this has been reduced to just 15 minutes, saving the company 1,500 hours annually. Because of operational limitations, the process still required some human input, but the automation demonstrated how well bots can collaborate with employees on complex processes. With further improvements, the process is expected to take just one minute.
NSG’s most productive bot, and their first for their business in Brazil, was for freight invoices. Interrogating high content XML files to locate very specific data, checking it against the database before entering it into the CP system, helped save 2,000 hours of manual work. Eventually with some more fine-tuning, this automation is expected to save the company 3,000 hours every year.
Another automation use case was for user account management in SAP to delete dormant accounts. Prior to RPA, inactive accounts were deleted without prior notice, then required reinstatement when a customer contacted the company. A bot was created to generate an e-mail asking customers if they still required their accounts. Reinstatement calls were reduced by 70-80%, saving 240 hours of additional work for the IT department and of course ensuring the end user was not adversely impacted in their work
NSG Group has accomplished a lot with automation in a relatively short time. As they continue to scale up, their Development Team now thinks more globally about how RPA can be used, continuing to refine and improve implanted bots. With many similar processes needing automation, they now reuse components of existing RPA solutions.
The team’s mission is to continue promoting the benefits of automation to managers and departments outside of Shared Services, helping to diffuse any fears about what RPA is, with the hopes or achieving wider adoption of RPA throughout the company.