Why Using Robot Technologies Shouldn’t Be An Automatic Decision For Auto Sector Firms
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Automotive manufacturing has long been a heavily automated
process, with physical robots helping assemble, weld, and paint
vehicles. Recent moves by some companies towards adopting robotic
process automation (RPA), shows that the wider automotive sector,
from manufacturers and national sales companies to dealers and
remarketers, is now turning to a different type of robot technology
to automate time-consuming back office processes.
RPA is a software technology that uses “bots” to
handle repetitive, rules-based digital tasks. These
“bots” can help automotive companies manage inventory,
process payments and invoices, and even improve customer service,
allowing people to concentrate on core business operations.
However, because RPA works by accessing information from
existing IT systems or software, automotive companies using RPA
need to think carefully about the impact that the technology has on
their existing IT contracts. For example, can a third party
supplier of RPA use your existing software, or would it breach the
third party licence terms? Are user number restrictions or
locations impacted by the digital workforce of
As RPA interacts with other IT systems or software, this
interaction could give rise to licence scope or charging issues for
existing contracts governing other IT systems or software.
Issues often arise because the language used in existing
contracts to define the scope of permitted software use and to
determine the charging basis was agreed years ago and does not
anticipate the use of RPA. This can lead to problems working out
whether or not use of the software by the RPA is compliant with the
permissions and restrictions of the applicable licence.
Automotive companies intending to use RPA should carefully
review the nature and extent of the rights granted under any
existing contracts and the method used to calculate fees under that
contract to ensure that the way the RPA interacts with the
applicable system or software is permitted and does not give rise
to additional fees.
It is important for the automotive company to ensure that its
use case matches the contract’s licence scope, otherwise there
is a risk of dispute around software over deployment, where the
licensor says that the automotive company is using software beyond
what the licence permits.
Another potential consequence of adopting RPA is the impact on
automotive companies’ data protection compliance. If the
automotive company is using RPA to profile or make automatic
decisions about individuals based on their personal details, it
will need to abide by certain restrictions or, where the type of
processing is high risk, carry out an assessment and ensure that
appropriate safeguards are in place.
When it comes to RPA, contracts, much like car engines, need to
be inspected and fine-tuned.
Originally published by Shoosmiths, June 29, 2021
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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