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Robotic process automation introduces digital workforce

William Ross, Communications and Information Division (SC) director, briefs Col. Chad Ellsworth, 66th Air Base Group commander, on the potential use of robotic process automation during an RPA demonstration at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Feb. 21. By collaborating with UiPath, a global software company that develops a platform for robotic process automation, the division will be able to increase productivity, accuracy, and overall mission success through the help of bots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jerry Saslav)

William Ross, Communications and Information Division director, briefs Col. Chad Ellsworth, 66th Air Base Group commander, on the potential use of robotic process automation during an Robotic Process Automation demonstration at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Feb. 21. By collaborating with UiPath, a global software company that develops a platform for robotic process automation, the division will be able to increase productivity, accuracy and overall mission success through the help of bots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jerry Saslav)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. (AFNS) -- The Communications and Information Division (SC) at Hanscom Air Force Base is applying cutting-edge technology to tackle the mission.

By collaborating with UiPath, a global software company that develops a platform for robotic process automation, and utilizing innovation funds, personnel will be able to increase productivity, accuracy and overall mission success through the help of bots.

Air Force officials named the robotic process automation as a 2020 Air Force Spark Tank selectee earlier this year.

“Think of RPA (robotic process automation) as a set of digital employees that work alongside you, expanding your workforce,” said Joel Cherkis, UiPath product management – private sector vice president, during an RPA demonstration at Hanscom AFB, Feb. 21.

Once integrated into the computer system, the bots are able to learn behaviors from the human user, and then implement the algorithms to complete repetitive tasks, freeing the user to move onto other projects.

“You can schedule the bots to work shifts just like you would a normal employee,” Cherkis said. “The only difference is you can schedule the bots to work through the night and on weekends and holidays.”

The bots are currently being implemented across a variety of Air Force professions such as finance and accounting, human resources and law enforcement, Cherkis said.

“The bots can also run as many processes as you need them to,” he said. “For example, a security forces squadron could have the bot run the background credentialing for a visitor, and then create the base pass.”

Network connections cannot deter the bots either, explained David Babyak, UiPath regional vice president.

“If there’s a delay in the network connectivity, the robot knows to wait and then proceed when the system is running,” Babyak said. “It frees up our people to continue with other tasks knowing the bot will handle it.”

During a one-day trial implementation at Hanscom AFB, officials said the work-order processing speeds for telephone service requests and asset accountability increased by 75% with 100% accuracy, reducing the workload by four hours.

“Based on the results we’ve seen so far, we’re hoping we can have this operational very quickly,” said William Ross, SC director.

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