Logflow and Robonext: “Logistics is an excellent match for Robotic Process Automation”
Logflow specialises in the re-engineering of operational processes, primarily in logistics. Robonext automates administrative processes. Both are partners of Log!Ville, but they didn’t previously know each other. We brought them together, and they quickly discovered that each had something to offer the other. A collaboration agreement is in the works.
Logflow was founded in 2000 by CEO Eric Vandenbussche and is based in Oostkamp. The company specialises in Business Process Re-engineering and has grown into an organisation with more than fifty engineers. Eric says, “Just call us logistics architects who help companies in the logistics sector – and also in sectors such as automotive, food and textiles – design, plan and implement new processes. Our work covers all stages from design to ‘go live’, and can also involve strategic or tactical aspects, such as choosing a new location, reconsidering business layout, improvement projects, and so on. Our clients range from SMEs to multinationals.” Their core services involve IT and automation solutions for logistics, as well as, increasingly, production. In terms of processes, both activities are becoming increasingly interconnected.
“What makes our approach unique in Belgium,” Eric adds, “Is that we don’t just provide strategic advice, like the ‘big four’ – we also map out the implementation phase and ensure projects run smoothly. Another thing that sets Logflow apart is that we don’t work with freelance consultants, we use our in-house specialists. That allows us to approach every project better, as a single, multidisciplinary team.”
Robonext is a very young company from Edegem: it was founded in 2019, and specialises in automating purely administrative processes. It started with the three founders, but now has twenty employees. As co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer Joris Van Ostaeyen explains, “Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an innovative software technology that enables organisations in the financial world, HR, logistics, etc. to automate administrative business processes. Robots – virtual employees – take over repetitive activities from staff. They log in to applications, navigate through user interfaces, move files, copy and paste data and perform calculations. With RPA, you can essentially automate tasks in any application used by your staff: SAP, Excel, CRM, web browsers, etc. The RPA robots generally perform a large number of common, repetitive tasks, such as searching through records, filling in forms and generating reports.”
“Robonext is an RPA integrator,” he explains. “We work with existing RPA platforms from the three market leaders: UIPath, Microsoft and Automation Anywhere. In other words, we make RPA implementation possible by developing robots and training staff.”
“We’ve noticed that the application areas for RPA are expanding all the time, and as a result, our range of services has really taken off in the past three years. The financial sector was one of the first to implement RPA, but we’re now doing work for the manufacturing industry, automotive, logistics, you name it. We’re also seeing an increasing convergence of technologies, such as AI, prediction systems and chat boxes.”
From ‘as-is’ to ‘to-be’
“We started in an ‘as-is’ situation and we’ve ended up in a ‘to-be’ situation,” explains Joris. “By reviewing administrative processes, we often end up with a leaner organisation and more streamlined processes.” Eric Vandenbussche has noticed the same thing in logistics. “When we analyse the ‘as-is’, we often notice that operations could be organised more simply or differently and we suggest a new way of organising flows, which we then automate.”
Incidentally, logistics is an excellent match for RPA: it often involves fixed, repetitive tasks in which numerous documents are exchanged. The automation of logistics processes can thus lead to automation of the administration of those processes.
Co-creation through collaboration
“Logflow works like an architect. We don’t develop our own packages, we find the best options and solutions for the client on a case-by-case basis. We’ve always focused on operations, but we’re increasingly noticing that a re-engineering of administrative flows is required too. After all, it’s getting more and more difficult to find logistics staff. If we automate administrative tasks as well, staff can concentrate more on supervision for example. But RPA is outside of our scope, so collaborating with Robonext is a win-win for both companies. Incidentally, we know from experience that we score points with our clients when we bring in good partners from outside our core business.”
“Collaboration can also lead to co-creation,” adds Joris. “When people review the way a company works, they don’t usually spend much time reviewing its administrative processes. So Robonext can support Logflow by designing new administrative processes to support the automation of logistics operations.”