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Robot ready?

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By the Orbis Robotics Team

Our last blog spoke about getting IT on board with our plans – and the potential benefits and pitfalls – but even with this additional resource and expertise, we were still missing something: our first robot that could do a whole process, not just part of it.

We were a couple of months into our robotics journey, and although we had moved at a tremendous pace (given the fact that this was all a very new venture and we had no training behind us) we were still expecting to have produced a robot that could essentially do the same process that one of our team members was currently responsible for. However, for various reasons, one had not yet materialised.

Attention turned from technology to the actual building of the robot. We had identified a key area with a backlog big enough to bring benefit by introducing said robot: teachers pensions. This was a very data input-heavy process that required days’ worth of human intervention for a couple of the team, but could potentially be done by a robot in about 20 minutes. No brainer!

Armed with numerous pots of caffeine and obscene amounts of biscuits, our lab workers set off on the onerous task of breaking the process down and replicating it. Productivity was rife and the lab were getting ever closer to the first process-overarching robot that had been so elusive. Could we actually pull this off?

A council who still used the odd paper process was now responsible for producing a robot, created by our own team members and not a team of experts, that would cost us large sums of money that we just didn’t have. We were so close, surely nothing was going to jeopardise us – oh, how wrong we were!  Hello, system freeze, how lovely of you to drop by!

We couldn’t believe it. It’s not often that we have a system freeze to allow for software to be updated, but now was that time. Okay, okay, so we should’ve probably done some research to see if this kind of thing needed to be included in our contingency planning, but, to be honest, we had been so full steam ahead with everything that we hadn’t really planned any allowance for contingency.

What were we thinking?! We were now going to be behind on timescales and we had removed individuals from their day-to-day job specifically to work on our robot, and we didn’t want to be wasting their time and resource. Do we send them back to their substantive teams only to disrupt the team further when the freeze lifts and we pull them back out to the lab?

Luckily for us, the freeze only lasted a couple of days and there was plenty of planning to be done, so our lab members stayed put and little time was wasted. However, we did need to be mindful that communication between all council activity should be improved to ensure this kind of thing didn’t happen again.

With everything back on track, it was full steam ahead and we quickly pushed to testing stage. Yes, yes, yes – our robot is almost here. Or is he??

Find out whether our robot actually made an appearance in next month’s blog.

Missed previous blogs about our journey into RPA?  Find them all here:

Robots Invade the Council

Can Robots and Employees Work Harmoniously?

Robot Process Automation (RPA) Without the Robots

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