【Nakasha Creative Corporation】 Optimal operational efficiency with RPA led to achieving “Ultimate man-hours”
Our experience based RPA support services
Nakasha Creative Corporation (Nakasha) provides various services from system development to on-site support for cultural asset management and Infrastructure industry such as electricity, gas, telecommunication, railroad, and aviation. They have long been working on optimizing their business efficiency and in 2016, they decided to introduce RPA (Robotic Process Automation) to further drive the transformative effect. Nakasha selected WinActor among many other RPA tools as they found it go well with the corporate philosophy. The pilot department experienced drastic cost cut and runtime reduction by using RPA. Utilizing this experience, Nakasha started company-wide deployment of RPA as well as new services to support RPA introduction. In this interview, we talked with the CEO of Nakasha, Mr. Hiroshi Yamaguchi.
24/7 working RPA for achieving zero overtime in the workplace
For eliminating waste and improve efficiency, Nakasha has been using their own system called NPS (Nakasha Profit System) which was developed based on TOYOTA Production System. Since 2005, they annually update “NPS handbook” in which includes their philosophy and strategy for all the employees. However, not all of the departments could follow the optimizing strategy because of the volume of its operations and ended up with labor-intensive method, Mr. Yamaguchi explained.
Yamaguchi ： We have to seriously deal with the overtime issues in the workplace. Leveraging our NPS activity in which we’ve cultivated “knowledge”, “empowerment”, and “teamwork” for 11 years, we set a goal that we would achieve zero overtime in the year starting September 2016.
For achieving that, we conducted a “company-wide evaluation” to visualize waste which causes loss of time and cost, or operations which likely become a cause of errors. The evaluation clarifies the procedure and details of key operations for listing the current methods and order of operations, and then identify the cause of errors. In the next step, error trends and potential loss of time and cost were analyzed using Pareto chart to further visualize the target. Based on the analysis results, each department independently conducted an on-site study session and reviewed the procedure and work hours of the target operations. As we are seeking to achieve “Ultimate man-hours” that is logical and ideal working hours and no valuable production time is wasted, they started focusing on RPA as an alternative tool for optimization.
RPA is a technology which automates PC operations currently performed by people. We can easily perform copy and paste between Excel and Word and send it via email. If we tried to automate this operation with conventional ICT however, we had to develop a system to integrate all the software in advance. On the other hand, RPA can respectively work with each application the same way as we perform that enables us to eliminate our working hours by almost 100%.
Yamaguchi ： We have a lot of routine and repetitive operations such as creating documents. We thought those simple operations should be handled by machine rather than people to reduce working hours and improve performance.
Whether they have an error-proofing function or not was a critical part for us
Recently in Japan, many RPA tools are in the market. What made Nakasha select WinActor among the others?
Yamaguchi ： One of the reasons is that they have an error-proofing function. On applying NPS, this “automation” should include the function which automatically detects any abnormal states and stop running if needed to avoid producing defectives. WinActor is equipped with unattended self-detection of malfunction.
Now, let us describe how WinActor automates your operations. Firstly, install WinActor and target applications (i.e. Excel, Word, Outlook, etc.) in your PC and save files to be required in HDD. Next, start WinActor and record your PC operations. WinActor automatically records your operations and creates a flow chart. Save the flow chart as a draft and add more steps or detailed settings before completing a scenario. By running the completed scenario with WinActor, the recorded operations are quickly and automatically processed without mistakes.
Error-proofing function, a critical for Nakasha also can be achievable by appropriately setting scenario. You can either specify “stop running” or “skip data and resume from next data” if WinActor encounters any abnormal while running scenario.
Yamaguchi ： Also, WinActor can create a scenario in which screenshot of abnormal status will be saved in a specific folder, that enables operations to move forward without being terminated. People can easily detect what kind of error and where did the scenario see these errors by checking the saved screenshot later. WinActor will meet our satisfaction only when it reaches to this level, i.e. running as a tool equipped with error-proofing function.
He also mentioned that WinActor scenario can be broken down into an element step by step and user can flexibly move it around in the flow attracted them.
Yamaguchi ： We can easily edit and reuse scenarios for similar operations to be automated by sharing it within the company.
Their “company-wide evaluation” worked well with RPA introduction
Before introducing RPA, a through determination of internal operations is necessary to identify the targets to be automated with RPA. For Nakasha’s case however, they’ve already conducted a “company-wide evaluation” to visualize ‘waste’, so it didn’t take long for them to identify the automation targets before RPA introduction. The operation selected as a pilot project before company-wide RPA introduction was “construction-related info registration into a web system” which had been handled by the power division. In this operation, around 60 items were registered in the web system referring to multiple Excel sheets with several attachments in the form such as JPEG or PDF. All the items were supposed to be confirmed by people before registration one by one. Not a lot, but there were some human errors including wrong entry or attachment error.
In order to automate this operation by using WinActor, they took the following steps.
- (1) NPS Business Promoting division of NPS promoting department and Power division worked together to design the process.
- (2) Based on the process developed in (1), NPS Business Promoting division created a WinActor scenario.
- (3) Power division and QC checked the scenario details.
- (4) The scenario go-live on the ground
Involving several departments for scenario creation enabled them to consolidate know-how cultivated over NPS activity and evaluate each step from an objective point of view. The actual operation started in less than 3 months since they selected WinActor and launched the project team.
Working-hours reduction with error elimination leads to company-wide deployment and new business opportunity
The achievement of pilot project was quantified right away. It reduced more than 682 hours of man-power, that is to say 45% reduction for annual basis. They expect further achievements as including coming new projects in the scope. This led Nakasha to establish RPA promoting team. In the future, they are expanding the scope of WinActor in the company.
Nakasha also started a new business in which they promote the expansion of RPA with WinActor. Sales representatives who are specialized in RPA in their “operational efficiency promoting team” are providing clients support services for RPA introduction and scenario creation.
Mr. Yamaguchi shared us his view on this new business.
Yamaguchi ： Through this service, we would like to promote RPA expansion by collaborating with clients and contribute to an improvement of working environment which is believed to be one of our social problems.
Nakasha’s “operational efficiency promoting team” offers various supports not only for WinActor introduction, but also one stop service from introduction to process visualization and scenario creation.
We strongly believe company who commits themselves to promote utilization of RPA (e.g. WinActor) as Nakasha is doing will be an indispensable agent in the coming decades in which super-aging society and population decline will be worsen, and the demand for ensuring working environment which will free people from routine operations and enable them to focus on more creative and productive tasks.
|Company Name||Nakasha Creative co., Ltd|
|Head Office||213, Nonami 2-chome, Tenpaku-ku, Nagoya city|
|Established||January 1960 (Nagoya Microphotography Research Center)|
|Company Information||The scope of their business services using GIS (geographic information system) includes research, design, IT system development, and image processing, targeting facility management, information management, and cultural asset management. Their goal is to maintain lifeline and promote cultural enrichment through their business activities and contribute to their clients’ optimization of operational efficiency as well as improvements in profits in rail, road, aerospace, electric power, telecommunication, gas, and cultural assets. They are also focusing on improving clients (end-users) satisfaction.|
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