Robotic arms in banks ! ICICI shows the way, takes help to sort 1.8 billion notes yearly

Robotic arms are synonymous with shop flooring. Not anymore. In its quest to quickly go digital, ICICI has found an progressive use for robotic arms — at its currency chest.

As the digitization wave swept enterprises throughout India Inc., the banking sector wasn’t left untouched. ICICI Bank  has been amongst the front runners in the banking sector in terms of adopting digital, and has efficiently implemented several innovative IT projects.

In its latest innovation, ICICI Bank has deployed personalized, industrial robots to automate and carry out repetitive high volume steps of handling cash processing on high-end note sorting machines.

The bank operates 47 chests, which receive unprocessed currency. On the core of the facility is a fully-automated robotic arm that feeds incoming notes to the note-sorting units. The unit then performs precision checks on each of the note. High-precision sensors then send a signal to the robotic arm to pick up the notes. Subsequently, in a series of operations, the robotic arm aligns the notes, packets and categorically separates them into issuable and non-issuable before putting them on a cash carousel. That is then circulated to branches and ATMs.

“The robotic arms use a combination of sensors to examine over 70 parameters within seconds that enable them to function constantly and seamlessly without any break,” explains AnubhutiSanghai, Head – Operations & Customer Service, ICICI Bank.”

Advantages galore

At the moment, the bank has deployed 14 robots in 12 areas. Every robot can function three high-end note sorting machines. This has helped process about 6 million notes each day, which translates into about 1.8 billion notes annually.

“This brings in a friction-less and completely-mechanized process of note-sorting that results in higher accuracy and adaptability to deal with larger volumes continuously. It has also enabled the personnel to focus more on value-added and supervisory functions,” Sanghai says.

Smart Vault facility

This wasn’t a one-off innovative initiative for ICICI Bank. The bank had launched smart vault in 2015 which deployed robotic arms to retrieve lockers from the vault. The entire RFID-enabled mechanism minimizes human intervention.

In a private locker room, the customer can swipe the debit card and enter the pin. The robotic arm then retrieves the respective locker and places it on the kiosk. As soon as the customer logs off, the arm then places the locker again within the safe vault of the bank.

Software program robotics

The RPA journey in ICICI Bank started 4 years ago and is now deployed in over 1000 business processes throughout varied features of the bank. The bank claims to be the first in the nation and among few globally to deploy ‘Software Robotics’ that emulates human actions to automate and perform repetitive, high-volume and time-consuming business tasks cutting across a number of applications.

The software robots at ICICI Bank are configured to capture and interpret data from systems, recognize patterns and run business processes throughout a number of applications to execute actions together with reconciliations and currency exchange rate processing, among others. The bank has deployed software robots in retail banking operations, agri-business, trade and forex, treasury and human resources management, amongst other areas.

The deployment has reduced the response time to customers by up to 60% and elevated accuracy to 100% thereby sharply enhancing the bank’s productivity and efficiency. It has also enabled the bank’s staff to focus more on value-added and customer-related functions. The software robots now perform over 20 lakh banking transactions every working day


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