Hyperautomation is a critical part of the digitalisation at Nurminen Logistics
Nurminen Logistics is a veteran of its field and has witnessed many upheavals over the course of its existence. Currently the company is undergoing an enormous multi-level digitalisation effort. Hyperautomation plays a central role in this project. Nurminen Logistics began the development of hyperautomation in its organisation using Lekab’s Derobia service in the autumn of 2020, and the pace is only accelerating.
Founded as early as 1886, today’s Nurminen Logistics is an international third-party logistics provider (3PL) that employs 200 persons in five different countries. Nurminen Logistics offers its customers high-quality forwarding and logistics services as well as railway transportations and related project transportation services. The main markets and growth areas of Nurminen Logistics are in railway logistics between Northern Europe and China, demanding logistics outsourcing projects and in the handling of heavy cargo and chemicals.
The company strives for lucrative growth and digitalisation plays a crucial role in achieving this goal, whereas hyperautomation and software robotics are central tools in the promotion of digitalisation.
CIO Petri Luurila has been involved with the company since August 2019 when he was hired to lead the company’s digitalisation project.
”The field of logistics is a process and document-led industry. It is also quite conservative in many ways, and there are plenty of opportunities for developing business operations through digitalisation”, he says.
Nurminen Logistics approaches digitalisation comprehensively
Luurila believes that because of the process-led nature, interdependent architectures and developing ecosystem of the logistics industry, the promotion of digitalisation should be pursued on many different levels.
“Digitalisation and process automation can be thought about hierarchically: All automations that can be conducted directly in the operative system should be primarily conducted there. Critical high-volume automations of customers’ systems, for example, should be conducted via an integration platform. And the numerous smaller use cases that fall outside of these should be conducted using hyperautomation and software robotics.”
He considers hyperautomation a critical component of the whole as it can be used to complement limitations in the functionality of various systems and automate even such processes that could not be automated any other way – at least not cost-effectively.
“Sometimes the built-in automations of operative systems can be reinforced using hyperautomation. But even more crucial targets for hyperautomation are such manual work stages where automation via any other means would be incredibly expensive or even impossible”, Luurila continues.
Derobia was discovered through in-house recommendation
Nurminen Logistics was looking for a partner to provide hyperautomation solutions, and Lekab’s Derobia service became involved after an in-house recommendation. Partner options were reviewed based on their technologies and the extent of their industry expertise. Derobia was convincing on both counts.
“A colleague of mine was already familiar with Derobia and recommended it to me on that basis. I have worked with software robotics and hyperautomation for quite a stretch now, but I was previously unfamiliar with Derobia’s Kofax technology. It convinced us with its capabilities and even surprised us with its cost-effectiveness. Based on highly rated technology and impressive industry expertise we decided to conduct a pilot with Derobia”, says Luurila.
The implementation of hyperautomation began with purchase invoices
Luurila had many use cases in mind that would benefit from hyperautomation but felt that it was most sensible to begin with simple cases that would provide a quick operational benefit. Lekab had a sound template for processing purchase invoices ready to go, so they were an easy starting point.
Nurminen Logistics has a few international invoicers who annually send some 40 000 – 50 000 purchase invoices. These invoices arrive either on paper or as image-formatted PDF files to the service provider, who delivers them to Nurminen Logistics as XML files for processing. However, invoice files can often arrive with inadequate information, which means they must be complemented manually. This could take up to 10 minutes per invoice. Now the hyperautomation built by Lekab completes the purchase invoices automatically, drastically reducing the time spent checking them. This also reduced the number of human errors in the entries.
“Purchase invoices were an easy starting point and Lekab did a great job. We have now automated two of our large invoicers and the rest is to be automated”, says Luurila.
Hyperautomation achieved direct business benefits in freight forwarding
The next use case selected for the automation was logging the information related to the forwarding of the railway cargo of a new customer into customs systems. Customs transit is a procedure that facilitates goods transportation and international commerce where goods are transported from outwards customs to inwards customs under the supervision of customs.
The railway operator delivers some of the information required by customs transit via email in Excel format, and customs transit cannot take place before it arrives. This and other information required by customs transit is entered into Nurminen Logistics’ forwarding system from where they are relayed onwards to the customer and partners. Traditionally, this has been conducted manually and a single procedure took some 5-15 minutes.
Nurminen Logistics got a new customer on short notice, increasing the number of required customs transits significantly. Processing these was selected as the third use case for hyperautomation. The entire process could be automated, thus avoiding the need for possible additional recruitment.
“Business-wise this was a tremendous step forward and opened many eyes at the company to the possibilities of hyperautomation”, Luurila says.
The company has awakened to the possibilities of hyperautomation
Luurila sees plenty of opportunities for utilising hyperautomation in the industry. In his previous roles he has worked extensively with hyperautomation and software robotics, but many people responsible for business operations at the company are yet unfamiliar with the possibilities they bring. However, the successes so far have increased interest within the company.
“We have received lots of thanks from people for how hyperautomation has made their work easier. Many have also been surprised that it is even possible in the first place. As a result of this, employees have begun to come up with new use cases of their own”, says Luurila.
The implemented use cases have been on the easier side so far, as they have been conducted primarily via software robotics. In the future the intention is to automate ever more challenging processes and thus achieve greater profits.
“In the future we are going to utilise cognitive capture and other opportunities provided by hyperautomation. However, for digitalisation to succeed, it is important that no process is automated before the process itself has been critically analysed”, Luurila says.
Cooperation with Lekab continues
Cooperation between Lekab and Nurminen Logistics has been smooth and fruitful, and mutual trust has been achieved. The SaaS model of Derobia hyperautomation also allows Nurminen Logistics to build tools such as software robots for their own use if they so choose.
“Hyperautomation is one of the central tools with which the logistics industry of the future will be built. That is one reason why it was crucial to include the option to build our own solutions using the Kofax technology into our contract. Lekab was more than happy to oblige”, says Luurila.
As hyperautomation is seen as an important part of a wider digital transformation at Nurminen Logistics, close cooperation will also continue in the future.
“We have had a terrific relationship with Lekab from the start, and the Derobia service has completely met all of my expectations. And many others in our organisation were even amazed at the results we achieved”, Luurila concludes with a laugh.