The Belgian chapter of Messer, a global supplier of industrial gases, wanted to leverage the power of automation to improve some of their processes. They started exploring the possibilities of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) but needed help to scale their efforts and discover other automation opportunities. Our mission was to help inspire their employees to gather fresh, substantiated ideas for automation on different company levels.

A Bottom-Up Approach

Messer deliberately chose a bottom-up approach, where employees throughout the organization were asked which tasks and processes could benefit from automation. We started by organizing value discovery workshops, where we asked employees which tasks and processes had become outdated, and where they saw opportunities for automation. Thanks to these workshops we were able to map their various processes, divide them into several groups, and prioritize them. Each of these workshops resulted in a comprehensive report where we listed the most promising ideas and which technologies would be the most suitable.

A Fundamental Challenge

By involving all employees throughout the organization, we were able to discover that the biggest opportunity for automation was at factory-level. We concluded that the planning of one of Messer’s most important operational processes – filling cylinders with one of their many kinds of industrial gases – was done completely manually. Team leaders had to download the order list from SAP themselves, after which they assigned task priorities to individual employees on a whiteboard, without follow-up or archival possibilities. This process left much room for human errors, so we saw the opportunity to use the Microsoft Power Platform to automate it.

A Time Saving Solution

We asked for help from the low-code experts at Roboest to build an application where team leads get a convenient overview of what needs to be done. The application automatically extracts new orders twice a day from SAP and structures this list based on priority. Team leads can then assign these tasks to employees, shifts, and filling halls through a simple drag-and-drop user interface. However, employees can also communicate with team leaders whether a task has been completed successfully. This saves both parties a lot of time by no longer requiring frequent trips to the whiteboard. In addition to this, third parties, like the logistics department, can also consult the list to follow up on their orders.