Why and how BekaertDeslee explores RPA to optimize administration

Jun 20, 2018
  • textiles
  • SAP

Belgian company BekaertDeslee manufactures high-quality mattress covers. Strong advocates of continuous improvement, the firm constantly seeks new ways to enhance production, empower its employees and delight its customers. Recently, they took a first step towards integrating robotic process automation (RPA) to accelerate and enhance administration.

Driven by a strong focus on innovation

SAP has been the backbone of BekaertDeslee’s IT landscape for many years, and its team of around 20 IT experts dedicate their time to unrolling new SAP functionalities. “To enable our team to focus almost completely on SAP, we work with third-party experts, mainly delaware, on other IT projects and innovative solutions,” explains Rik Holvoet, CIO at BekaertDeslee. “Our CEO is very supportive of these initiatives, as he constantly seeks new ways to take our way of working and serving our customers to the next level.”

This innovative mindset is why robotic process automation caught the eye of the CIO and CDO during delaware’s innovation and co-creation event series, DEL20. “As soon as the concept was explained, we were already thinking of the possibilities for our company,” says Rik. “We quickly developed a concrete project idea to optimize a specific marketing-related process.”

Offering a new product customization experience

delaware developed a first RPA proof of concept for BekaertDeslee. The idea: use RPA to extend BekaertDeslee’s BD Cloud – a platform where customers can configure their own mattresses. “The BD Cloud is like a showroom, where customers can choose from our wide range of fabrics, patterns, etc. and configure their mattresses. They can save samples, configurations and images, share and discuss these with colleagues or clients and then refine them afterwards in a few clicks,” Rik explains. As the company works with a huge number of fabrics and patterns and relies on numerous productions and stitching techniques, however, it’s impossible for humans to enlist all the possible combinations. That’s how RPA can help.

People and machines work hand-in-hand

“Robotic systems are ideal stand-ins for people in repetitive processes,” continues Rik. “They are available 24/7, overcoming issues like time zone differences, which may hamper productivity and efficiency between our branches around the world. Even more, machines don’t make mistakes, no matter how long they’ve been working.” However, it’s not the company’s goal to replace people with machines. “Far from it. Rather, RPA enables our people to avoid boring, tedious tasks, freeing up their time to focus on adding value and doing the work that interests and fulfils them,” Rik asserts.

As for future applications of RPA, Rik has some ideas: “RPA could be a great alternative to custom SAP developments, of which we have quite a bit here. RPA techniques might, for example, be a good idea to standardize some of our accounting processes.”

Inspired? Kick off your company’s RPA journey by getting in touch with one of our process automation experts.

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