Japanese multinational food manufacturer, Ajinomoto has partnered UiPath, an enterprise automation software company, in Thailand to automate its finance and accounting processes.
Ajinomoto, founded in 1909, has a presence in major Southeast Asian countries, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore.
The company's first foray outside Japan was to Thailand in 1960 and it currently has 7,000 employees there. The company produces seasonings, instant noodles, and processed and frozen foods in Thailand.
Prior to the deployment of UiPath solutions, Ajinomoto's finance and accounting employees in Thailand spent most of their time manually transferring, converting, and checking data, such as cash flow reports and other financial transactions.
The new solution has created a core automation system using three UiPath platforms - UiPath Automation Developer, UiPath Orchestrator, and UiPath Unattended Robot.
The system has automated Microsoft Excel and data entry processes, giving employees time to focus on other tasks.
Ajinomoto Thailand’s Finance and Accounting Manager, Sanvaris Amornnuratkul, said the need to improve employee productivity and ensure sustainable growth had been achieved with a “transition to digital and other innovative technologies”.
Since 2019, Ajinomoto Thailand has implemented 20 automation processes, with seven to 10 of them being run daily, the company said.
Amornnuratkul said automation has saved around 233 hours per month of employee time, as of the end of 2021, and employees are now spending 95 percent and 98 percent less time than previously on the daily cashflow report and record impairment fixed asset processes, respectively.
Road to automation
Ajinomoto started its automation journey after analysing the benefits by hiring an external consulting firm.
The company started with an initial small-scale implementation to understand viability.
It enrolled a group of employees for the robotic process automation (RPA) developer foundation course by New Computer Technology Consulting (NCT), a partner of UiPath.
“We started the automation implementation with NCT because we were interested in understanding how automation can be developed by UiPath. We started the training with seven to 10 people, and we aimed to develop and maintain the automation process ourselves,” said Amornnuratkul.
The first pilot took about eight weeks to develop with UiPath.
“When the first pilot was a success, we continued to scale up with more processes in the finance and accounting department before also scaling to the IT department,” Amornnuratkul said.
Further, the company is developing and planning more automation processes, which include automating accounts payable payments and creating other finance and accounting reports such as production cost reports.
Currently, with the automation system in place, the company is able to create bank balance reports (daily cashflow reports), and record and export impairment data before importing to a financial management software (record impairment fixed asset).
Ajinomoto has also been able to create a report backup server, by copying data from the Solarwinds web application and pasting them into Microsoft Excel and exporting data from PDF documents to generate a report in Microsoft Excel (net back-up report).
In August last year, the company set up a new non-production environment for internal development, internal training and evaluation, to support and handle the automation implementation process.
Its role is to ensure that data from the testing and development of new software robots do not get mixed with the data of robots which are already being used in production, the company said.