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Innovation and modern technologies are changing the way we work and live - and creating new jobs. AI, autonomous driving, and robotics are no longer dreams of the future but part of the daily lives of our experts at thyssenkrupp. So does David Höflich. He is the digital mastermind behind Robotic Process Automation at thyssenkrupp and explains how collaboration with bots works.
David Höflich is Digitalization Manager & Product Owner 'Robotic Process Automation' and has been with thyssenkrupp for five years. Since graduating with a degree in business informatics, he has worked at the intersection of business and IT, always focusing on process improvement. Because his work has always involved a great deal of manual effort, he describes Robotics Process Automation as a stroke of luck.
When you ask David Höflich how he defines Robotics Process Automation, he is very clear: “Robotics Process Automation (RPA) is not a physical robot, but the use of software to automate repetitive tasks.” A main strength of this technology is the flexibility of its precise design. That's because, in addition to RPA's ability to handle and process nearly infinite amounts of data, it can be integrated into almost any system. Where RPA differs from artificial intelligence is that its bots follow a predefined process logic. AI, on the other hand, can be added to bots as needed.
In most jobs, some tasks always follow the same pattern. These repetitive activities can be very monotonous and time-consuming. This is where bots come in: Bots are software that can replicate human behavior. For example, they can read, click, enter data, and process information.
First, Robotics Process Automation bots can work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. They are faster and make fewer mistakes than humans, making them more efficient. The technology also means less work for team members. They can now focus more on important, value-creating, and exciting activities during working hours.
Höflich compares the importance of AI and Robotics Process Automation to the invention of the loom or the steam engine - two transformative technological achievements that enabled the progress of industry and improved the standard of living for many people.
The versatility of the technology is demonstrated by the more than 150 bots that have been developed in recent years. They cover a wide range of tasks, from onboarding new employees and automating internal control systems (ICS) to fully automated processes and reporting in SAP and non-SAP systems. When asked about the biggest success in Robotics Process Automation, Höflich cites the smooth execution of the separation of thyssenkrupp's Cement and Mining business units: “That was really impressive! More than 200 terabytes of previously shared folders and files had to be cleanly separated. To do this down to the file level with Robotics Process Automation and other tools is certainly state of the art and would have been impossible to do manually”.
According to Höflich, bots are most effective when processes are extremely complex, or data volumes are extremely high - or both. In this way, the technology provides real value to the team and to the customer.
Since the bots are hosted in the company's infrastructure, there are also no concerns about data protection, explains Höflich. Before implementation, we analyze with each customer which protective measures are necessary. These are then implemented accordingly in the bot. This ensures that all data protection and security regulations are complied with and that the processes can run safely.