Roadshow saves hours with automation

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Tabatha Arellano
  • Air Force Test Center

Air Force Test Center Directorate’s Continued Process Improvement and Innovation office sponsored and organized a three-day Robotic Process Automation Roadshow, at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Feb. 7-9.

The Roadshow utilized an automation program called UiPath, which mimics human actions and connects multiple systems without changing the existing information technology.

David Sorrels, chief innovation officer and customer success manager for the DoD’s UiPath accounts, led the event.

“We partnered with the DAF bot operations team out of Maxwell AFB, Alabama to bring robotic process and technology to business process and find where we can automate repetitive high-volume manual tasks,” said Sorrels. “The initial training effort and automations were built this week, but the effort is already ongoing throughout the entire Air Force.”

The Roadshow, sponsored by Secretary of the Air Force Management, created the events to empower citizen developers, allowing organizations to capture missed opportunities and put automation in the hands of employees.

"AFTC/XR expects to train the initial cadre of citizen developers able to automate and thus error-proof repetitive data processing tasks to free them up to do more value-added work," said Neil Repke, AFTC Center Process manager.

The Roadshow was open to all Air Force members (military, civilians, and contractors), and no skillset or training background was required to participate.

“[Having this program means] data is processed faster, moves through the system faster, work is completed faster, causing less manual labor and less error,” said Alexandra Rajadhyaksha, 412th Test Wing, division contractor and tools developer. “This is simple, you don’t need to be a programmer. Almost anyone can do this.”

Roadshow participants, like Rajadhyaksha, were given example bots already created through the UiPath program to use as templates for their own.

“We used a website that selects a specific point [to automate] and then adds it into the path to tell it what you need it to do. Selecting things such as ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or my name, we can automate,” said Tyler Borsberry, 419th Flight Training Squadron, physical security and Roadshow participant. “Through the process of continuity, I think it’s extremely beneficial to be able to automate the system, from visitors coming in to generating alarm letters.”

Edwards AFB Roadshow has been planned after a successful event at Eglin AFB in May 2022. Initially trained citizen developers produced at such events are empowered to train follow-on cohorts.

At the end of the week, all participants presented 18 of their automated and error-proofing bots throughout the class of 26. Overall, the created bots will save 3,227 repurposed hours per year. The bot with the most saved time was 1,040 hours a year.

“The Roadshow was held in Europe and across the United States and has grown the functional community of practice throughout the different functional areas with over 300,00 manual hours saved,” concluded Sorrels.