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  /  Project   /  Blog: Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Using UIPath

Blog: Robotic Process Automation (RPA) Using UIPath


“We’re fascinated with robots because they are reflections of ourselves.”

— Ken Goldberg

Introduction

RPA is a technology now developing used to automate manual tasks. What distinguishes RPA from traditional programming is its graphical user interface (GUI). RPA automation is performed by breaking down tasks performed by a user and repeating them. This technology can, therefore, make programming easier for the automation of graphic based processes. Examples of RPA applications include[1]:

  • Extracting data from scanned documents such as PDFs.
  • Generating emails/monitoring an email account.
  • Reading and creating invoices.
  • Automating Payroll processing.
  • Automating complex software-based tasks in static environments.

RPA makes use of software robots to perform tasks in either Web/Desktop or Citrix environments. On average, robots can perform equivalent processes three times faster than humans and they are able to work every day of the year 24 hours a day. RPA excels in any type of repetitive rule-based application [2]. Some common examples of RPA companies are Automation Anywhere, UIPath and blueprism [3].

UIPath

UIPath Community Edition is a freely available software to download on Windows. Using UIPath, it is possible to implement complex workflows creating sequences and flowchart based architectures. Each sequence/flowchart can then be composed of many sub-activities such as recording of a set of actions for the robot to perform or screen and data scraping instructions. Additionally, UIPath also enables error handling mechanisms in case of decision-making situations or the occurrence of unexpected delays between different processes. This can be done by using control flow commands such as:

  • If Statements.
  • Waiting for a certain UI element to appear or vanish.
  • Adding delays.
  • Breaking down workflow execution using the debug mode.
Figure 1 : UIPath Interface

Another particular utility of UIPath is its ability to work with structured tables (eg. XLSX and CSV files). This allows developers to loop through and filter data from tables to process and create structured data gathering information from the web or any other desktop based application.

As an application example, I created a web-scraping tool to open Chrome to loop through all the Amazon pages of a chosen category. I can then store, for each article in the category, the name, price and link in a CSV file. Finally, this file can be analysed (using python ML algorithms) to see how prices change with time and compare products with those of different suppliers.

Video 1: Amazon Data Scraping Example

UIPath is currently working in its beta version to integrate Computer Vision as part of its workflow recording application. This could potentially allow for better integration of UIPath in Virtual Environments making possible for robots to identify remotely in greater detail the different UI components.

An RPA business application

During my internship at with Documation Software, I had the opportunity to work on RPA using UIPath. As part of my internship, I successfully managed to automate two workflows:

  1. Registering suppliers in a financial system (taking data from a structured dataset).
  2. Creating invoices in a financial system using data from a web service.

These two tools can greatly speed up workflow processing in big or medium-sized companies.

To improve the above workflows, it could be possible to add an error handling mechanism to store in a CSV file a log of the status of each individual process executed by the robot and flag any anomalies. This would allow a human operator to later check how the process was handled by the robot and to see how the robot reacted to any unexpected event.

References

[1] 57 RPA Use Cases/ Applications: in-Depth Guide [2019 update] = https://blog.aimultiple.com/robotic-process-automation-use-cases/

[2] Deutsche Bank = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDKQAJuEQhY

[3] Analytics Insight, Kamalika Some = https://www.analyticsinsight.net/top-10-robotic-process-automation-companies-of-2018/

Contacts

If you want to keep updated with my latest articles and projects, these are some of my contacts details:

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Source: Artificial Intelligence on Medium

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