A digital robot has minimised administrative time and costs for a Northern Ireland company bringing goods from Great Britain.
Re-Gen Waste in Newry moves between 100,000-150,000 of tonnes of recycling materials from England, Scotland and Wales each year.
The Northern Ireland Protocol requires additional administration time and resources for the company and had the potential to slow down operations, increase costs, and cause problems for its supply chain.
The IT team developed a digital solution which automated the process, reduced the processing time for each load by 90 per cent, eliminated the potential for mistakes and saved up to £324,000 on outsourcing costs per year.
Joseph Doherty, Managing Director, said: “Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, all goods arriving in Ireland from Great Britain must have an entry summary declaration with information on the cargo. This is provided by Re-Gen to UK Customs in advance of the goods’ arrival. We needed an innovative system to meet the requirement of an international trade agreement that was easy to use and integrated seamlessly with existing systems in Transport, Finance and IT.
“The project was a learning process as the Trader Support System website was brand new and they were updating the site every week which affected how our system interacted with and executed its task. Our robot had to be updated every time the website changed.
“I am tremendously proud of our team. They have shown a real entrepreneurial spirit to find a digital solution which meets the challenges of the Protocol. The new system has saved us time and money and ensured that we can continue to service our clients with no disruption. We hear of many other businesses who are struggling with the administrative burden of the Protocol. Thanks to our new digital process we are in a good place.”
The robot was introduced in January 2021. Part of its specification was that it would be a future-proofed solution with flexibility to meet the needs of the governments Trader Support System.
Conor McCooey, Re-Gen’s Chief Information Officer, said: “My team are excited about finding solutions to issues affecting our people, systems and operational processes. We relish the opportunity to reduce processing times and use technology innovatively to meet the new requirement of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“Using robotic process automation software, we developed an automated workflow that created hundreds of draft customs declarations per week. To date, the robot has saved over 200 hours of manual form entry.
“Throughout 2022, the Trader Support System website changed significantly and Owen Quinn, our Higher-Level Apprentice, led the reprogramming of our robot. He worked closely with colleagues in Finance and Transport to ensure that the forms and declarations were completed to a high standard.”