Intelligent Capture for Manufacturing

Intelligent Capture for Manufacturing

Why intelligent data capture?

Businesses run on data. Your typical office depends on information to implement the next steps in a process, function, department, or connected system. That means any amount of bad data can alter or derail the intended business outcomes. A case in point being the data from an invoice, which impacts payables and the payments process, and subsequent debt reconciliation. Incorrect invoice data entry can result in over-or-under-payments, and subsequent mismanagement of corporate funds and debt. Manual data entry or human input is a major contributing factor for bad data. One way to remove this impediment in business is by automating data acquisition. Intelligent data capture is the answer.

Intelligent data capture accelerates data acquisition by removing manual data entry. This helps lower the inconsistencies, errors, and delays that come with manual effort. A workflow automation or process automation tool embedded with intelligent data capture technology is capable of automatically capturing and routing data for use in a connected system or application. Data initiates many business processes:

  • To implement a typical accounts payable task, you will require data from a vendor invoice or receipt containing details like item list, invoice total, vendor name, etc.
  • To process a medical claim and approve/reject a reimbursement to the claimant, you will require sufficient data on the nature of the claim, the insurance terms & conditions, the claimant details like name, the extent and duration of the coverage, etc. This requires sufficient data entry/extraction from a claims form and related documents.
  • When addressing a customer grievance/complaint, the customer service representative requires details of the purchases made by the customer including the bill number and other transaction details in order to address the issue at hand. Immediate access to transaction records like a sales order form and related order fulfillment documents will be helpful here.

Timely access to data is necessary to address and implement business obligations efficiently. This data can exist in many different forms like a PDF file, email, fax, scan, file shares, MFPs, etc. Typically, you will need a data entry clerk to manually sort through hundreds and thousands of transaction documents that your business generates on a regular basis. Once sorted, the clerk will have to perform endless data entry to get all the relevant information needed to continue any business process. Manual effort induces human errors, which could prove costly when handling mission-critical tasks.

Automating manually-driven document-based processes, like the aforementioned examples, can lower your company’s chances of incurring high operating and labor costs. Intelligent data capture ensures hands-free and error-free data entry, leading to the acquisition of accurate data.

Data entry is one of the first jobs that needs to be done in many repetitive, document-dependent processes like accounts payable, sales order processing, medical claims processing, payroll management, mailroom operations, employee onboarding, etc. And so, the injection of accurate data at the very beginning of the process ensures accurate business outcomes. In a way, intelligent data capture induces efficiency and consistency in operations, that is reverberated throughout the process, function, or connected system.

Intelligent data capture technology can be a part of a bigger automation platform like intelligent process automation.
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Today, smart workflow automation tools in the market come with a combination of digital transformation technologies like AI, machine learning, robotic process automation, etc. Intelligent process automation software combines cognitive technologies like AI, machine learning, image recognition software like OCR/ICR/OMR along with robotic process automation and intelligent data capture to provide a complete automation solution for complex document-intensive work.

Apart from eliminating manual data entry and document processing, intelligent capture dramatically lowers the number of steps needed to acquire the right data. A typical intelligent data capture software performs capture, extraction, validation, and verification of data. Done manually, these involve

  • Many repetitive rounds of data entry;
  • Cross-checking with related personnel, departments, databases, and system files for validation;
  • Contacting and trying to reach verification managers and related personnel for dispute resolution and approval/rejection; and finally
  • Re-entering data into a connected backend like ERP system or document management system for transaction record keeping and archiving

Alternatively, an intelligent process automation solution with powerful intelligent data capture software comes pre-packaged with built-in intelligence to tackle the aforementioned steps. It streamlines and eliminates many of the potential bottleneck situations like missing validation checks or waiting for approvals from managers. AI and machine learning provide built-in intelligence to automate document and data capture, validation, and routing for verification. Also, with intelligent capture, the need for double data entry to a connected business application is completely eliminated. The software automatically creates a transaction record after the verification step where the verified data is directly exported to, say an ERP system in a file format of your choice. This removes the additional, often cumbersome step of entering validated data again into your system records.

Artsyl Intelligent Data Capture

Standard capture solutions utilize OCR/ICR technology to extract images and data from documents. This kind of technology is limited in its capability to capture a diverse range of document types.

Take for instance a simple invoice document from a vendor.
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Traditional capture software is template-based and relies on built-in knowledge about the document structure to extract data. The software has previous knowledge of where on an invoice document to look for and scan details like ‘TOTAL’ and ‘ITEMS’. While this is good and saves the user time and effort performing data entry of the said details, it is still limited in its capacity to process a new type of document. If the invoice has a different structure to the one for which the software was programmed, the software will be rendered useless as it will not know exactly where on the document to scan for relevant invoice details. Here, the ‘TOTAL’ field may be in a totally different place on the document, and rather than capturing the invoice ‘TOTAL’, the software may end up capturing a blank space.

Accommodating for Document Variability

What’s lacking in traditional capture methods is the intelligence to accommodate for document variability. Transaction documents coming from your seasoned vendor can be processed using basic capture as they, more or less, come in a standard format and structure. Suppose you are sourcing a new vendor who sends an invoice that looks different from the one you are familiar with, basic capture will not be useful as it lacks the pre-built logic to handle a new document type. Here, the software requires intelligence to scan and ‘learn’ the format or structure of the new document.

What you need is intelligent data capture to ensure maximum field capture of any document type. Artsyl’s intelligent process automation software, called docAlpha, comes with strong intelligent data capture capabilities to accommodate any document type. The software employs machine learning as its primary data extraction method, along with OCR/ICR/OMR technology. docAlpha employs cognitive technologies to ‘learn’ document types. For standard, familiar documents, the software applies known, built-in logic to capture data. In the case of a new document type, docAlpha ‘learns’ the keystrokes performed to input details the first time, and applies that learning to process all subsequent documents of a similar format and structure. This way, docAlpha adds its learnings to the built-in logic library with every new document.

Key Features of docAlpha

Capture: data can come from a myriad channels, and so data acquisition must also facilitate multichannel capture. docAlpha can capture documents from emails, fax, scan, file shares, MFPs, etc.

Extraction: machine learning is the primary data extraction method that docAlpha applies. Recognition software like OCR/ICR/OMR are also used, with the scope to employ multiple OCR engines at a time. Machine learning is employed to ‘learn’ new document types, and identify the context and task from that learning. Document recognition can be based on:

  • Built-in capture definitions;
  • Acquired knowledge from self-learning of documents; or
  • A combination of both

Intelligent Workflow Automation: captured and extracted data is assigned a suitable workflow that meets the business requirements of the user. The data is subsequently routed and processed according to the workflow logic. AI and machine learning help with intelligent workflow automation of extracted data, where the data is processed with the same skill and detail as a human would, but without the inefficiencies and delays that come with manual effort.

Classification: document classification is based on business rules and in agreement with connected business processes or requirements. Documents may be automatically classified by type and arranged to be useful for the next job in line.

Validation: data validation can include any number of validation checks and parameters. The common validation criteria for source documents like vendor invoices and customer sales orders may include 2-way and 3-way matching, vendor and database lookups, checking for line-item details, arithmetic checks, etc.

Verification: extracted and validated data is automatically routed to a verification manager for dispute resolution and approval/rejection. Once data is automatically routed to the concerned personnel, alerts and notifications can be enabled for the verification agent to respond to the data in a timely manner.

Export: validated and verified data is directly exported to a connected business application like an ERP system. Robust export connectors developed by Artsyl for every business application ensure the swift and secure transfer of accurate data from the intelligent process automation workflows to the connected business application. Here, the need for repeat or double data entry work is completely eliminated.

Integration: Artsyl’s intelligent process automation software integrates with many business applications, ERPs, document management systems, and back-ends like Acumatica Cloud ERP, Microsoft Dynamics 365, DocuWare, etc. This not only helps create a continuous intelligent document processing chain from capture to export to a connected application, but also ensures hands-free and accelerated data availability to the application for further business use.

Deployment: Artsyl’s docAlpha digital transformation platform with intelligent data capture and process automation capabilities can be deployed on-premise and in the cloud.

Intelligent data capture is a critical business requirement today, and bridges the gap in automation between when a document enters an organization to when it can be entered into a connected business application for business use. With intelligent data capture technology and process automation, Artsyl closes this gap in automation by streamlining the entire steps to get accurate data into an ERP, from capture to export.

Intelligent Data Capture in Manufacturing

The idea that the entire data flows — from the time data enters your company at the first point of contact or business with an external stakeholder to when it is used in your ERP systems — can be automated completely bodes well for manufacturers. Unexpected downtime is a major impediment to continuous productivity in the manufacturing sector. Data drives many business processes in manufacturing. Back-office processes are mission-critical to the sound running of the manufacturing sector and support the main processes in manufacturing. Important jobs like accounts payable, sales order processing, and check remittance handling are all essential for the optimum function of manufacturing companies. These processes run on data, which is where intelligent data capture comes in handy.

Data ingestion, data processing, data storage, data analytics, and data consumption are all part of smart automation in manufacturing. By having an intelligent automation system systematically acquire, validate, and file approved data into a connected business application, manufacturers have the opportunity to work with accurate data every time. This ensures consistency and reliability of processes where data is used and subsequently, accurate business outcomes.

Many complex workflows in manufacturing run on data and documents. Data from unstructured and semi-structured documents like customs forms, shipment paperwork, sales orders, contracts, work orders, quality control paperwork, engineering change orders (ECO), material safety data sheet (MSDS), etc. These documents must be acquired, processed, checked for authenticity, and then routed along the appropriate production workflows in a timely manner. Failure to do so can slow down or derail production flows, lead to regulatory compliance failures and fines, and wrong or costly business outcomes. Manual document processing work is complex, slow, inefficient, and costly. Intelligent process automation helps automate the acquisition, validation, and distribution of ad hoc and supporting documents in manufacturing. The software streamlines document flow from the point of document capture to its export to a dedicated processing platform like a product lifecycle management software, supply chain management software, or a production control systems platform.

Artsyl’s intelligent process automation platform streamlines many critical document-based processes in manufacturing including procurement, product planning and design, compliance, sales order processing, distribution and logistics, customer service, etc.

By having a single platform solution to optimize document flows and processes, manufacturers will have the advantage of working with the right data and documents every time. This lowers the costs, delays, and inefficiencies that come with inputting and working with bad data in manufacturing.

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