November 3rd, 2021 12:00 PM EDT
Automation for Field Services & DistributionNovember 3rd, 2021 12:00 PM EDT
Learn how creating a digital workforce can improve your supply chain processes!

Running your robot in Control Room

Now that our robot is done, what used to take Maria hours each week now happens in a matter of seconds!

There is still one detail, though: Maria would need to install Robocorp Lab, download our robot code, click that >> Run all button to run our robot... It beats copying and pasting data for hours each week for sure, but we can make life even easier for her: it would be great if the robot could run automatically in the cloud, for example, every Friday at noon. How can we do it?

By using Control Room, of course!

A factory in the cloud

Think about an old school car factory: you have various assembly lines, which are set up so that a series of operations are performed on the car that moves down them. Control Room works the same way. You set up an assembly line (the Process), and you can add to it multiple operations (the Steps) that are performed on whatever you are working on.

Our robot is really simple for now, and it fits all in one step, but in the future, we could add more, or we could decide to split the robot into multiple steps, and Control Room supports that easily.

Control Room is very powerful and can support very complicated workflows. What we see here is the easiest possible scenario. Beginners' course, remember? ๐Ÿ˜€

To set this all up, we will have to go through these steps:

  • Logging into Control Room
  • Creating a new Organization for RobotSpareBin Industries
  • Creating a new Workspace
  • Creating a new Robot
  • Uploading the robot code
  • Creating a Process (the "assembly line", remember?)
  • Adding the Step to the Process and setting it up
  • Executing and scheduling the process.

Still with us? Great!

Logging into Control Room

Visit https://cloud.robocorp.com and log in with your Robocorp account: Logging into Control Room

Creating a new organization

Organizations allow you to group users, workspaces, processes, assistants, and robots. When you registered for your Robocorp account, an example personal organization was created for you. You are sure that this robot will only be the first of a long list, so you decide to create an organization for RobotSpareBin Industries!

On the Control Room homepage, click on the New Organization button, and enter the details for RobotSpareBin Industries: Creating a new organization

Creating a new workspace

Inside the new organization, we need to create a workspace. A common use case is to create a workspace for the production environment and one or more for development and staging environments. We will only create the production workspace for now:

On the Control Room homepage, click on the Create workspace button inside our new organization, and create a new workspace called Production:

Creating a new workspace

Uploading the robot code to Control Room

For this step to work, make sure your Robocorp Lab is linked to your Robocorp account.

Ok! We have the robot on our computer. It's time to send it soaring into the cloud by uploading the robot code.

Important: Use the Robot Spare Bin Intranet Robot Complete robot in Robocorp Lab for this part:

  1. Close your current robot by closing the Robocorp Lab window and going back to the Welcome Screen.
  2. Visit the Robot Spare Bin Intranet Robot Complete page on the Robocorp Portal site.
  3. Click on the Get robot button, and select Open in Robocorp Lab in the modal window. Allow your browser to open Robocorp Lab, if a notification appears.
  4. In Robocorp Lab, assign or accept the robot's name and choose a directory where to store the code. Then click on Open Robot.

Once you have the new robot open:

  1. Click on the Upload to Control Room button on the top right corner.
  2. Select the Production workspace from the list on the left, press the Create New button to create a new robot, enter Sales Data Robot as the robot name, and click on the Upload Robot button: Uploading the robot to Control Room
  3. You should see a green success message.

Whew! That's our robot setup taken care of. Let's move to the Process!

Creating a new process

Click on the Workforce link in the top bar. Click on the New Process button to create a new process.

Let's give it an evocative name, like Maria's weekly copy paste marathon:

Naming a process

Adding the robot step to the Process

Think of all the robots that you will add in Control Room as your "robot fleet in the garage": you have them safe there, and they are available when you need them in your processes.

Next, we want to associate our robot to our process, and select a runtime environment for it:

  1. Click the Configure process button.
  2. Click on the Add step button in the Steps section.
  3. A popup window will appear: select Sales Data Robot > RobotSpareBin Complete.
  4. Select the default robocorp/robocontainer:latest option from the Environment select list.
  5. Click on the Add to process button.

Add a step to the process

Wait, what is a runtime environment? ๐Ÿค”

Each time you clicked on the >> Run all button during development, you were running the robot on your local computer. When using Control Room, the robot can be executed in different ways. The easiest way is to run the robot in a "cloud runtime environment", something we can call a "virtual machine".

It's not a virtual machine, really. It's a Docker container. There's a difference, you want to know? (You nerd! ๐Ÿค“)

For now, it's enough for you to know that in Control Room all robots need a runtime environment to run, and the easiest way is to use a Robocorp Hosted environment so that everything happens in the cloud.

This is not the only option: you also have the possibility of having your computer (or Maria's) running the robot locally, but triggered by Control Room. That is the job of Robocorp Workforce Agent.

Whew! That was a lot of clicking! But now the fun starts!

Running the process

All is set now for our robot to run in the cloud!

Click on the Run Process button for our Maria's weekly copy paste marathon process. You will be taken to a new screen where you can follow how the process is going! After some time, you should see a "Success" message:

Running the robot

Great! The robot is now happily running in the cloud!

Viewing the results

When the robot has finished running, we can look at the details of how the process worked out:

Seeing the results of the robot

In the Run artifacts section, we can see our familiar screenshot of the sales summary and the PDF we generated!

Scheduling the process

We have already done so much to improve Maria's life. But right now, she would need to log into Control Room herself and push the Start button. Or, even worse, call you every Friday at 12 to press the button, and that's no way to live your life! ๐Ÿ˜€

Instead, now that the robot is configured to run in Control Room, we could schedule it to run automatically!

The process scheduler is available on Control Room Starter tier and above.

On to the details page for our Process, we would find the Schedule section, and set it up like this:

Configuring the scheduling

Now Control Room would start our robot exactly at 12 every Friday.

Maria is off the hook completely, and she can do more interesting stuff at RobotSpareBin. Maybe she will get a promotion; after all, optimizing this was her idea!

Other options for running the robot

Running the robot on your local machine with Robocorp Lab, Visual Studio Code, or RCC, or in Control Room are not the only options.

If your robot needs to be run on a physical (or a virtual) machine to access, for example, desktop applications, you can use our applications to that:

  • Use Robocorp Workforce Agent for unattended cases where the robot can work in the background without human intervention.
  • Use Robot Assistants for attended cases where the robot can work together with humans to complete automated tasks!

Remember that running mission-critical robots just on the developer's computer is not recommended! ๐Ÿ˜…

What we learned

A lot!

  • You can run robots in Control Room with the push of a button!
  • You need to upload your robot's code to Control Room.
  • You need to create a Process to run your robots.
  • A robot step can be run in multiple processes.
  • You need to select a runtime environment for your robot step when you add it to a process.
  • A "runtime environment" is the actual computer that will execute the robot: it can be a Docker container in the cloud or a physical machine running the Robocorp Workforce Agent.
  • You can schedule your processes in Control Room to run at specific intervals automatically.
  • Robocorp Workforce Agent can be used to run your robots on any machine.
  • Robot Assistants can work together with humans to complete automated tasks.