Vattenfall Automation Success Story

One of Europe’s leading energy companies, Vattenfall, uses Robotics Process Automation to create operational efficiencies and support the company in working towards its’ mission of fossil free living within one generation

Duration: Ongoing

Use Case Video

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Highlights

Costs Saved

≈ 6 million euros

Multiple Departments

Multiple business areas engaged in automation

Time Saved

100.000 + Hours
Start

Automation Journey Sparks Within Vattenfall

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) at Vattenfall started as a grass-roots initiative as many business areas within Vattenfall started to explore the possibilities with automation technologies. In 2018, the Vattenfall Heat department was the first to experiment with RPA by introducing software robots to automate simple processes and optimize daily tasks. Together with the Vattenfall IT team and external implementation company, Ciphix, the Heat department was able to integrate the software robots into the native Vattenfall systems. 

The success of the Heat business case was shared through various forums to inspire colleagues and illustrate how powerful these technologies could be. As word spread, the IT team discovered that there was a growing appetite for automation within the organisation. Due to increasing requests and interest in RPA across the business, Vattenfall IT established RPA services to accommodate these requests in a streamlined way.

 

As the Vattenfall IT team built out their RPA Services, they developed a ‘Robotics Filter,’ a tool, to evaluate what processes were best suited for RPA. This initiated a productive dialogue within Vattenfall which helped spread the awareness of these innovative technologies. 

With consulting support from external IT implementation partners, Vattenfall IT then established their very own Robotics Centre of Excellence (CoE) – enabling them to scale the robotics and automation activities in an efficient way. 

SCALE

Establishing a Robotics Platform within Vattenfall

In the early days of the Vattenfall Robotics Centre of Excellence, the key focus was on the existing needs of the business – especially repetitive, stable processes with structured data readily available. Once these were addressed, the CoE started analysing other processes and showcasing the RPA possibilities within Vattenfall. The team looked more towards processes with rule-based decisions and minimal exceptions – intending to simplify the human employee role in the process. 

As more projects launched, the Vattenfall CoE defined the following criteria to determine which processes would be considered for robotics automation:

  • Repetitive with high process volume 
  • Rule-based with minimal human intervention for decisions to be made
  • High-level of standardisation with few exceptions and adjustments
  • Use of structured, electronically available data
 

Once the process(es) were identified, the IT CoE could determine what level of support (if any) would be required from their external implementation partners across the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden. To centralise and manage all RPA initiatives end-to-end, the CoE began using the UiPath Platform.

And so, a Robotics Platform was born within Vattenfall. The platform scaled rapidly between 2018 and 2022 and currently supports eight business areas. According to System owner of the RPA platform, Peer Fiedler, “RPA is here to stay. The automation potential in businesses like ours is huge and growing every year. Therefore we see this technology as an important tool to bridge towards more integrated software solutions.” 

 

Project Statistics

8 Business Units
automated so far
40-50%
Internal Automation Awareness
75
Processes Automated
120.000 Hours
Estimated (net.) Time Saved
€2 Million
Invested

Today within Vattenfall, human employees interact with the software robots on a regular basis – there are Bot Owners within the business areas who manage and oversee the RPA activities. Frank Wichmann, Team Lead in the Procurement Steering Department in Berlin, said, “Daily recurring processes are executed by the RPA bot. This gives my colleagues more time for other processes, where their specialist knowledge can be used more effectively.”

 
Mission Oriented Automation Use Cases

While much of process automation is designed to save time and or money, these types of projects can also be linked directly to helping the company achieve its mission. For example, in the Vattenfall E-mobility Use Case, a robot was designed to request placement of new electric car charging stations throughout the Netherlands. This effectively allowed the E-mobility team to:

 

  • Increase the number of requests processed
  • Install all charging stations with less operational strain 
  • Free up ±500 hours from the employees completing the process manually
  • Comply with the Vattenfall obligation

Proposed Solution by Ciphix

Step 1

Input data provided in Excel document by business

Step 2

Input data Excel document is ready

Step 3

New location request form is filled in

Step 4

Report of processed requests

While it is a relatively simple process, it required time, effort and follow-up from the E-mobility team. By integrating a robot, the team is able to more efficiently complete the required work and support Vattenfall in moving towards its’ mission of fossil-free living within one generation. 

Projected savings for this particular Use Case:
  • Time saving/ year: 400 hours
  • Cost saving/ year: €17.000
  • Error reduction: €1.056
  • Qualitative benefits:
    • Comply with the result obligation
    • Decreased throughout time of the request processes
    • Increase the number of requests processed
    • Employees can spend more time on more complex request cases
  • Achieve ROI = +/- 23-24 months

Marleen, Ciphix RPA developer who supported the implementation said: “Within the E-Mobility department, Vattenfall saves ±400 hours a year by robotizing the MijnConnection process. The E-mobility department was faced with an obligation towards one of their suppliers for the installation of charging stations. Previously, the Vattenfall team requested these manually. Since they implemented a software robot, the process is carried out 7 times faster. How cool is it that a robot like this can contribute (if even in a small way) to a greener and more sustainable world!”

 

Other examples of how software robots have helped make an impact key processes across the business include:

  • Creating purchase requisitions and purchase orders (Procurement)
  • Checking and approving e-invoices (Finance)
  • Processing waste management documents and creating a waste balance report (Business ops)
  • Stock level exchange / management of warehouse stock (Business ops)
  • Maintenance protocol into SAP including archiving (Field operation)
  • Extraction, standardization, and migration of metadata classification (Document management)
  • Automated Third Party Certification upload (Document management)
Expand

Vattenfall's Robotic Platform Trajectory

As automation scales within Vattenfall, it expands naturally by employee-driven curiosity and initiatives. Employees are interested in the possibilities with automation via platforms like the Microsoft Power Platform. Employee engagement and awareness of successful use cases are key drivers in Vattenfall’s ambition to extend the technological horizon within the IT team. 

In parallel, the Vattenfall IT continuously reviews their operational playbook and works to develop their capabilities so the CoE can become even more independent from external implementation partners.

The Vattenfall CoE often hosts citizen development oriented ‘Build Your Own Bot’ workshops to further educate and empower teams to explore RPA and other automation technologies like Artificial Intelligence. Vattenfall has also created an informal forum to connect with other multinational companies to share use cases and automation learnings.

The automation journey within Vattenfall has evolved within the span of a few years from mostly manual work (no robots) to Robotics Process Automation and now looks towards a future filled with artificial intelligence and Hyperautomation. The IT CoE will continue to evolve and sharpen their ability to handle complex rule-based processes with high levels of exceptions. They will look for opportunities to reduce costs, save resources and produce valuable process insights for the business.

According to Vattenfall’s Head of the Robotics CoE within IT, Michael Gessner, the Robotics Platform is only getting started. Michael believes there are plenty of opportunities to expand the automation activities at Vattenfall. He believes that introducing intelligent process automation will have a meaningful impact on ways of working across all business units and save even more time and resources. 

For example, the Robotics Platform will begin exploring ways to support teams like Human Resources so they optimise their administrative-oriented work and focus more on strategic talent management activities. Software robots (or ‘digital employees’) have the ability to quickly, efficiently and accurately manage many routine-based HR tasks. This way, the human HR employees can spend more time on supporting the humans within Vattenfall. 

The Robotics Platform is part of Vattenfall’s broader journey towards digitalisation across all business activities. The company believes that digitalisation is essential in accelerating the company’s mission of achieving fossil-free living within one generation. 

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