How Sweco will save 68,000 hours in 2021 by using robots
Sweco is co-creating digital solutions with our clients to advance digital innovation and discover new digital opportunities. One area of digitalisation that Sweco is currently addressing is how to improve repetitive processes that require energy, accuracy and concentration to increase efficiency and productivity while lowering costs.
Adapting to the world around us to address present and future scenarios has never been more relevant, inspiring and challenging as now. David Hunter, head Artificial Intelligence & Automation, Sweco, is dedicated to the study of how “robots” can be used to boost productivity, quality and speed results, while saving cost.
At Hunter’s arrival in 2020, a team of business analysts, programmers and IT specialists had the ambition to identify and operationalise as many automatable processes and optimisations as possible within Sweco to create value for clients.
Workflow automation to reduce inefficient processes and increase productivity
To date, with support from Hunter and his team, Sweco has identified 60 processes that can be automated: performing up to 68,000 person hours of traditional repetitive work per year.
By automating these processes, using “robots”; actually automated software, these hours are performed by the robot workforce, increasing the quantity of work and improving quality of work, and most importantly freeing up the Sweco workforce to perform more complex, creative tasks and spend more time with clients. The robots have their own email and IP addresses, so that their progress and communication can be followed properly; an important feature to minimise risk.
The target for 2021 is to save 100,000 hours in total across all Sweco’s country organisations and the work of the 17,500 engineers, architects and other specialists employed at Sweco.
Yet not even when that target is reached will Hunter see his work as being done.
“Initially, it was all about laying a good foundation, and having a central platform from which the automation could take place,” Hunter explains. “After that, we immediately started collecting examples and made improvements from the bottom up. This is why people are involved across the board: it creates support and brings you to daily practice,” he adds.
Now that a foundation has been laid, it is time to further develop automated processes at Sweco.
Automated processes for staff activities and services to clients
An important part of the Artificial Intelligence & Automation team’s approach is to develop cases and best practices and to make these available to clients.
Hunter believes that ultimately, automation and robotisation will be commonplace, and applicable in any project as well as a part of any proposal for clients.
“So far our bot workforce has delivered services in client projects and added capacity, in addition to streamlining and speeding up internal process, but this is really only a beginning,” he explains. “We are now adding in AI capabilities and the combination of our people being enhanced with intelligent automation every day is the vision we hope to achieve,” Hunter says.