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Robotic Process Automation

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Shiels built a high-performance team with Ritesh Sridhar, Analyst Business - Network Service Centre; Aashti Kahlon, Application Developer and Abdul Mohammed, Specialist Business Intelligence Developer. They received the green light to proceed with designing CP’s first robotic process automation, or “bot” as it is more popularly known in the industry.

A bot’s primary functions are to streamline manual processes, reduce costs and increase productivity. For example, the procedure to regulate traffic to and from carload customers within a local area, known as a local operating plan (LOP), involves a 24/7 manual process in order to build 130 trains a day. Pre-bot, the person building trains required 15 minutes per train and had to access three separate applications and three different spreadsheets. Now, a single employee provides the bot with manual entry tasks that it processes in seconds. This includes retrieving customers’ orders from Customer Station, reviewing yard inventory, accounting for demurrage charges and prebuilding the local train through Train and Yard Execution System or TYES. After the bot creates the prebuild, Train and Engine employees verify the order with the local trainmaster prior to final execution.

Control Costs winners, below from left to right: Michael Shiels, Senior Manager Enterprise Architecture Aashti Kahlon, Application Developer Abdul Hakeem Mohammed, Specialist Business Intelligence Developer Ritesh Arsikere Sridhar, Analyst Business - Network Service Centre.

CP's Control Costs winners Michael Shiels, Aashti Kahlon, Abdul Hakeem Mohammed, and Ritesh Arsikere Sridhar

“There is now less switching on orders and better overall performance,” said Shiels. “I am proud CP is a leader with this type of smart automation.”

Generating the LOP in this manner means being more responsive to customers’ needs. It provides greater predictability and consistent services, and frees up employees to focus on more value-added duties. Currently, the team has created 16 bot processes in departments such as Accounts Payable, IS, Operations and Customer Service. When combined, the bot’s process will have performed more than 800,000 transactions that were previously generated manually. Though one bot may take up to four to five weeks to build, depending on complexity, the savings generated are far-reaching.

The team is excited to work with more business units, paving the way for future optimizations. Kahlon has been with CP for five years and appreciates the diversity involved with this program.

“As a developer, I interact with various departments who may not have much technical knowledge, whereas I did not previously know too much about operations. But our different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives lead to inspired solutions like these bots, and continue to grow my railroading knowledge,” she said.

The efficiencies realized through this technology resulted in $2 million in savings and created a blueprint for CP to expand the application of bot technology to other processes. For their ingenious look at creating efficiencies and using innovative thinking to provide real-time cost-savings, Shiels, Sridhar, Kahlon and Mohammed are proud recipients of a CEO Award for Excellence for Controlling Costs.

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