It’s no secret that 2020 was a turbulent year for the HVAC/R supply chain. The pandemic and its related (and unrelated) restrictions imposed across the globe led to a shortage of products, making it impossible to get goods to customers quickly and reliably. One survey of supply chain executives across many sectors found that serious disruptions affected over half of companies.
At the same time, consumers and suppliers now expect HVAC/R and manufacturing companies to provide the same seamless digital experience and streamlined delivery options offered by B2C providers, referred to globally amongst B2B companies as “The Amazon Effect.”
Unfortunately, most manufacturing and HVAC/R companies lack the infrastructure to replicate the quality of experience offered by B2C companies.
In fact, more than 40% of all B2B transactions are still processed manually, which inherently slows operations, increases the risk of errors, and stifles business growth.
For HVAC/R companies to stay competitive, become more resilient, and stimulate growth, they must transform manual document processes into true business value.
Using automation to achieve operational excellence
The demand for a seamless customer experience has created a mandate for operational excellence, which HVAC/R providers need automation to achieve.
1 Process documents faster
Intelligent document automation platforms are the most effective tool that HVAC/R companies have at their disposal to optimise their existing processes and process documents faster. These platforms can extract and transform unstructured data from documents and turn it into structured data with 100% accuracy.
Using an intelligent document automation platform enables companies to process purchase orders, invoices, and shipping notices faster, so they can deliver goods to customers quickly and create a frictionless experience. This is a key reason why 40% of enterprises observe quicker approvals for invoices under an automated process.
It also reduces the potential for mistakes, as it eliminates human error and the chance of an employee entering incorrect information manually. Thorough and accurate data processing ensures consistent document processing with little chance of delays for customers.
2 Increase cost efficiency
Automation has the potential to deliver HVAC/R companies substantial cost savings by eliminating time-consuming manual processes, like processing invoices. This cost efficiency is critical for mitigating the effects of supply chain disruptions, where prices for manuals are seeing an upward trend.
Eliminating manual processing frees employees to focus on other tasks. A PWC survey indicates that inadequate accounts payable processes and systems waste 27% of the average AP department’s time on activities that could be automated.
Automation enables a company to redirect precious employee hours away from tedious manual processes and reallocate those hours into other more productive tasks that add value, like strategic decision making and proactive customer service.
3 Enable IoT readiness
As analysts predict the Internet of Things (IoT) market to reach $1.46 billion by 2027, many HVAC/R providers are looking at IoT sensors to provide predictive maintenance for HVAC systems and improve visibility throughout warehouses. All of these solutions will create a mountain of data that requires processing.
Automation platforms are a critical step on the journey toward IoT readiness because they are the most efficient way to extract structured and unstructured data from sensors and process it into something an analytics platform can use.
In the future, any HVAC/R company that wants to leverage the data obtained from IoT sensors will need an automated solution in place to collect and process it. That means investing in automation is critical for companies that intend to embrace IoT technology over the next decade.
4 Gain insights through big data analytics
Automation also has the potential to enable HVAC/R companies to leverage data analytics. For example, an intelligent document automation solution can extract data from physical documents and send it to an analytics platform to analyse for operational insights.
Companies can then use these insights to identify operational issues and predict delivery times for goods. This information helps suppliers plan for future disruptions, create more robust supplier networks, and ensure that they deliver goods on time.
In other words, automated data processing solutions provide you with scalability that you can use to collect structured and unstructured data generated throughout the entire supply chain.
Is your output optimal?
If you’re on the fence about automation, consider not only whether your manual processes are sufficient, but if they’re optimal. Even if you intend to continue with the status-quo operations, you’re not going to be operating as efficiently and effectively as you would if you digitised those processes. And your competitors who do optimise B2B transactions will gain market share while your own profits steadily decrease.
By automating the manual documents in your business processes, you can refocus staff away from manual tasks and reduce operational costs… all without requiring your customers and suppliers to change their processes.