Hampshire County Council hopes to save at least 200 work days a year in its Highways Operations Centre through the use of Robotics Process Automation (RPA) - a digital technology that assists staff by automating every day tasks using computer code.
The time will be saved by automating three parts of its eight-step highways claims process.
Hampshire developed a ‘bot’, which served as a proof of concept to demonstrate the viability and benefits of RPA, followed by a fully operational version, which is due for implementation in summer 2018.
This will be the first ‘live’ RPA fully deployed by Hampshire CC.
A report going before its cabinet on 17 September states: 'One of the responsibilities of ETE’s Highways Operations Centre (HOC) is to handle and process claims arising from incidents on Hampshire’s 5,400 miles of highway networks, e.g. a claim for damage to a vehicle caused by a highway defect.
'Approximately 2,000 such claims are processed by the HOC per annum. Following initial analysis, three parts of the 8-step claims process were identified as being suitable for RPA, on the basis that:
They involved a set of repeatable tasks each time a claim process was opened;
These particular steps required no human judgement or decision making.'
The proof of concept estimated that deployment of the bot will save 45 minutes of staff time as part of handling each claims process.
'Scaled up across the 2,000 claims received per annum, this represents a saving of around 200 days per annum in total for the HOC, freeing up staff capacity to engage in more value-added activity.'
The use of computer robotics also has the potential to both speed up the timescales in which residents receive a response to their claim, and could eliminate any inaccuracies or errors that might occasionally occur in manual handling of this aspect of the claims process.
The council's Economy, Transport and Environment Department is also actively seeking other opportunities to automate processes, and has identified over 30 other tasks which are being investigated for their suitability.
The report states: 'As part of this process, ETE is seeking to undertake Business Process Reviews in advance of submitting processes for automation. The premise of this is to refine processes in advance of automation, which in itself brings greater efficiencies and improved response times for customers.'