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RPA at Sonae Arauco

by sol-admin

Sonae Arauco is a wood-based panels manufacturer that produces solutions for residential and business contexts. The Company has 3.000 employees working in 23 industrial and commercial units in 9 countries. Let’s learn about its RPA journey that got started in 2017.

Based on the know-how of its people, Sonae Arauco saw itself as an industry leader with state-of-the-art facilities at their Shared Service Center (SSC) in Maia, Portugal. Made up of four departments, the center dealt with all of the administrative aspects for the global company, including Accounting, Administration, Treasury Management, and Transaction Accounts among other tasks. The center was and is considered modern and highly effective, but after a chance encounter during an international conference, the SSC team, led by Alcídio Silva Figueiredo, started realizing that there were a number of processes and tasks that were being performed in a very inefficient manner that could be automated using RPA.

“We were having a lot of people spending a lot of time doing the same things as they were doing since 2001, and we were not aware that there were other ways of dealing with it and we were missing clear opportunities.”

Alcídio Silva Figueiredo, Administrative & Accounting Manager, Sonae Arauco

Balancing a number of different RPA providers Sonae Arauco decided to use the UiPath RPA platform due to its ease of management, ease of handling, and flexibility.

After successful Proof of Concept carried out with the consultancy firm Deloitte, Sonae Arauco set up a Center of Excellence (CoE) consisting of three employees who had been freed from some tasks that had just been automated, one of them from the Treasury Management team. These three employees already understood the value that RPA could bring, having personally benefitted from it, and also had a background not in IT or technology, but in Economics and Management. This gave them a wider perspective and allowed them to communicate better with other departments. The CoE now works throughout the company, spreading the benefits of RPA across different departments. Not only are RPA robots being used on regular tasks and processes, but teams are now deploying RPA robots on ad-hoc, one-off tasks. For instance, the IT team deployed RPA on a one-off basis to gather information from multiple systems. Previously, this would have taken three persons over three months to complete, yet with RPA they were able to assign a robot who could complete the task much quicker.

The company continues implementing pilot projects and started to build up a number of case studies that they used to persuade department heads to implement RPA. By 2021, Sonae Arauco deployed 30 robots and automated over 8,000 hours per year, saving over €185,000.