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Arçelik is a worldwide producer and marketer of consumer durables and consumer electronics that manages 12 brands globally (Arçelik, Beko, Grundig, Blomberg, ElektraBregenz, Arctic, Leisure, Flavel, Defy, Altus, Dawlance, Voltas Beko) and employs over 40,000 people worldwide.
Arçelik is the undisputed leader in its home market, Turkey, in white goods, small domestic appliances, built-in appliances, and air-conditioners. The company is the market leader in the UK and France with Beko brand, in Romania with Arctic brand, in South Africa with Defy brand and in Pakistan with Dawlance brand. As Europe’s second largest white goods company according to market share ranking based on quantity, Arçelik reached a consolidated turnover of 5 bln euros in 2020.
Like many global consumer goods companies, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a significant amount of change within the company. As consumers’ purchasing behavior shifted to digital channels during the pandemic, supply and sourcing limitations emerged as did frequent changes in orders and production plans. For a manufacturing, sales, and marketing company focusing on design-oriented innovation and digital transformation, automation had been ingrained in their technology toolset since 2017. However, the disruption caused by the pandemic created a sense of urgency and need for automation technology that could be implemented rapidly and drive more results. This led the company to focus on new automation technology to both help adapt to the pandemic and build resilience by incorporating robotic process automation (RPA) into their technology stack.
Arçelik Process Digitalization team saw a big opportunity to incorporate RPA as a technology to speed digital transformation. As consumers were spending more time at home and less time shopping in retail stores, e-commerce and marketplace sales in Turkey multiplied by 10 times over the past year. To provide better customer service and experience, multiple software robots were introduced to do the error handling in e-commerce and marketplace orders. The robots address the errors in both company and third-party systems handling the order errors and informing the relevant teams to take prompt action.
As a first step, Arçelik’s core business processes were analyzed to see how they could be made more efficient through RPA and end-to-end automation. Processes such as design-to-market, order-to-cash, and procure-to-pay were prioritized as they involved high volumes and frequent operational tasks performed by the organizational units particularly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
RPA and the cost effectiveness, agility, and flexibility it afforded, were seen as key to Arçelik’s digital transformation program. After careful consideration, UiPath was chosen as their preferred RPA vendor due to UiPath extensive global network which meant Arçelik could scale across borders. They were also attracted to UiPath training and development technology which would allow them to upskill and train teams in different regions – again, supporting the company’s global scale. When they re-instated their RPA journey, Arçelik knew that one of their biggest challenges would be to secure buy-in from both senior leadership and the employees themselves. While RPA has many benefits, they understood that there may have been misperceptions surrounding automation technology which they would need to directly address.
A critical component of our digital transformation journey is about elimination of clerical activities and diverting the energy and focus of the entire organization to value added & strategic activities. Such a massive shift can only be achieved with careful planning and rigorous change management. With company-wide communication and training efforts with a motto of “25hourday”, we have worked with more than a thousand employees from our global operations on all stages of this transformation journey.
Utku Barış Pazar • Chief Strategy and Digital Officer, Arçelik Global
As part of their change management campaign and to raise awareness of RPA within the organization, the team initiated an internal marketing campaign named the #25hourday Challenge, prompting the employees to imagine “if a day was 25 hours-long...”, and how they would spend this extra hour. The team focused on the benefits of RPA and enabling people to gain one more extra hour for preventing misperceptions of software robots. The campaign was spread around the global offices, including Digitalks session with Boris Krumrey, UiPath Global VP of Automation Innovations, as well as webinars and hackathons hosted by UiPath. Overall, the communication program reached over 1000 employees through monthly RPA seminars. Additionally, it led to 320 processes being nominated for automation over 12 months (up from 50 processes compared to last year), further speeding up the automation for Arçelik.
Through the updates on RPA technology introduced in various webinars and hackathons, we saw significant enthusiasm building among employees across the globe. Due to the direct engagement with our global business and digital teams, we have been able to identify and automate the right processes more rapidly. Our RPA pipeline quadrupled in the first quarter of 2021 compared to 2020, resulting a better ROI along with increased customer satisfaction both internally and externally. We will continue to invest in widening the global developer network and deploying a pan-atlantic RPA framework by Arçelik.
Yekta Caymaz • CIO, Arçelik Global
During the pandemic, one of the biggest challenges Arçelik had to tackle was ensuring continuous material and product availability for their customers both in the local and global markets. From placing the import material purchase requests to customs clearance, various software robots ran business processes consecutively. By performing the imports of finished goods from their factory in Romania to Turkey, software robots handled the invoice processing and cross-trade operations. This saved Arçelik’s supply chain team from working overtime by processing 650,000 product transactions and 55,000 invoices yearly and enabling the team extra time to conduct more value-added tasks. The end-to-end cycle of the finished goods import process that involves purchase requests, goods orders, goods receipt, invoice processing, and the creation of pre-payment requests was completely automated with no need for manual intervention. Risks associated with manually entering the invoices were reduced and process results were standardized and made more transparent. The execution time spent on invoice entry and validation was reduced by 90%, saving nearly 2,340 working hours a year.
As one of Turkey’s biggest importers, another implementation is on outbound product flow from the seven factories that are based in Turkey. To be able to sell and comply with the new energy regulations, European market suppliers are legally obliged to register their appliances that require an energy label. Every day the software robot retrieves new SKU numbers, checks the in-house master data platform (MDM), and uploads them into the European Product Database for Energy Labelling (EPREL) platform by obtaining a registration ID that is updated on the MDM system. The result is eliminating incorrect data entry, as well as refocusing the efforts of a three-people team to more value-added work.
The team is in the process of establishing a center of excellence (CoE) based in Turkey and ‘hubs’ based in other countries and regional offices. This centralized approach allows for the right implementation of RPA projects, process best practices, and the common technology adoption across the whole organization. It will also give space to individual offices and teams to customize RPA implementations according to their needs.
The 35+ global process owners, teams responsible within the business units for RPA, are attached to the CoE and are acting as RPA champions, raising awareness of the technology and promoting it throughout the organization as well as process analysis and selection. For instance, the RPA team have gone on to help over 120 employees digitize their processes through RPA and also took the lead in training 50+ global citizen developers, working with business units and the IT department across Romania, Russia, China, Thailand, Pakistan, South Africa, and Turkey to scale up training globally. In addition to that, they work to establish RPA standardization and governance models in their regional centers.
The CoE team’s holistic approach focused on an end-to-end analysis saw them receive the 2021 IDC Future of Work: Automation award in Turkey.
With a focus on employee engagement and outreach, Arçelik is working to ensure employees are not just comfortable with this new technology, but also are free to develop their automations and ideas. Employees understood that the end goal of RPA is to save them time, reduce the amount of repetitive, rules-based work, eliminate operational and financial risk-bearing duties, and allow them to concentrate on more creative, value-added tasks to improve business outcomes.
The central RPA team has deployed 85 processes on robots to run 3.2 million transactions to date. We are in the process of democratizing RPA by training 50 citizen developers from different operations to automate their own departments repetitive tasks. We’re also investing heavily to upskill and re-skill current employees with digital skillsets such as Agile, AI, data analytics tools and trainings to improve efficiency and future proof our entire operations.
Utku Barış Pazar • Chief Strategy and Digital Officer, Arçelik Global
Looking to the future, Arçelik will continue to expand its use of RPA, including spreading the use of unattended software robots throughout the departments and regions. Following the completion of the proof of concept (PoC) using UiPath Process Mining via the UiPath Platform on supply chain processes, they plan on conducting more process mining on their order-to-cash cycle and identifying new areas that can be automated to streamline their multi-product, multi-country, and multi-region supply chain.
To date, software robots in Arçelik have handled over 80 million Euros worth of imports and transit trade per year. Of the manual processes that were initially identified, 100% have been automated to date. Another key metric, the running success rate, was increased to 95.7% thanks to RPA.
The RPA technology enabled us to focus on our end to end processes in a holistic way by strategic processes prioritization to support growth and business critical operations. Of the 85+ processes automated, it is estimated that those processes saved more than 125.000 working hours and exceeded the 25 hour challenge target. Deployment speed has increased by nearly four times, with 8 processes previously taking up to fours months to go live in 2019, now 7 processes are going live in just a month with UiPath technology. We’re very proud of our team's continuous efforts to strive for excellence!
Irmak Sismanoglu • Process Digitalisation Manager, Arçelik Global