Maximum flexibility is required when scheduling many shorter assignments within a certain time frame and radius, as numerous factors usually have to be taken into account. The new Dispatch cockpit of Innosoft supports the dispatcher with a sophisticated pre-planning.
What are the skills and working time specifications of the technician? How urgent are the assignments and what are the customer’s priorities? Are contractual agreements or opening hours to be considered? On which route can the most time and kilometres be saved? From a certain size of the work to be planned, it is often no longer possible for a person to take all these conditions into account and at the same time plan the optimum sequence and route in terms of efficiency. Especially since these conditions are also subject to a certain hierarchy due to different priorities. And if short-term emergency operations are added to this, which have to be integrated into the existing planning, are added to this scenario, it quickly becomes complicated and the overview is lost.
To avoid this, it is recommended to use an automated pre-planning system that does not get out of joint even in case of spontaneous deviations from plan, but adjusts and updates the plan in seconds. This relieves the scheduler of a lot of time-consuming calculation and diligent work, so that he can concentrate his energy on fine-tuning. All he has to do is click on the button that distributes the assignments stored in the container as a worklist to the available resources. The process runs in seconds in the background, the dispatcher only sees how the assignments in the planning board fill the lines of the respective service technicians. This is best illustrated using a case study.
Too many factors to be considered by human planners
A manufacturer of vending machines looks after a few thousand devices, which are spread all over Germany. In addition to regular maintenance and checks, the service technicians also have to drive out to the customers to rectify minor faults and carry out major repairs. The schedulers responsible for the various sales areas have to distribute a daily work list of several dozen service calls to the field service technicians assigned to them. In addition, there are emergency service calls in the event of short-term system failures.
Even the best planner cannot possibly plan the optimum sequence and route for all technicians to follow when visiting customers. It is true that he could display the assignment and technician locations on a map and then design a route planning that would save time and effort. However, the specific factors of the individual assignments will always throw this planning overboard. For example, the opening hours of customers, their contractually guaranteed response times, or a possible aversion to or preference for certain technicians must be taken into account.
Optimization of assignments based on a pre-defined requirements matrix
And in the case of technicians, it is important to match the skills available with the skills required for the assignments and to take into account their working time agreements so that there is no trouble with the works council or trade union. Now this data is stored in the technician profile and all further specifications and information are stored in the assignment. With the assignment optimization of Innosoft, the computer can run through all possible combinations of assignment and resource under consideration of an unlimited number of different parameters in fractions of a second, compare the resulting options based on a previously calculated cost matrix and sort them according to the given priorities. Geographically optimized routes are generated, which in turn minimizes travel times and costs.
The addresses of customers and resources are geocoded via the GeoMap module, i.e. the coordinates of longitude and latitude are determined and stored for the address. The system can now use the address numbers to plan the waypoints of the routes, compare the duration and distance of all the site connections to each other and finally select the most efficient option. In order to take into account additional special customer requirements such as — for example, due to particularly good or bad experiences — the preference or dislike for or against a particular technician, this can be defined as a skill and can be included in the planning via this filter option.
Dispatcher has the last word — corrections possible at any time
The dispatcher always remains the authoritative instance, the automatically planned assignments are not binding and can be corrected or changed by the user at any time. In this way, control remains with the MRP controller, who can be supported by the technical options, but can still include other aspects in the planning. He can therefore influence these automatically distributed operational sequences at any time and react to emergencies and other situations that change at short notice.
In interaction with the Mobile Field Service solution from Innosoft, the dispatcher also receives constantly updated information on the status of an assignment. If, for example, the service technician sends his feedback on the work he has just completed during a customer visit, the system immediately processes the data and the current progress of the assignment is directly visible in the Gantt diagram of the Resource Planning. The planner can also call up the service report with all the details, so that he is always up to date on the progress of the assignment and can react to unscheduled deviations.
Complex overview reveals the potential for optimization
If the company vehicle is also equipped with a GPS tracking system, the dispatcher can intervene virtually in real time. On the basis of the completed and confirmed assignments, which are marked green on the planning board for example, and the technician’s current position, he sees the information necessary for his decision as to whether he can assign the employee an additional detour to a nearby customer directly in front of him on the screen.
In total, this results in an almost complete overview, subdivided into the data of still planned operations as well as already realized and confirmed operations. First experiences at the customer’s site have shown the existing optimization potential. By using Innosoft Dispatch, the number of assignments to be completed by the technicians can be increased significantly. And the satisfaction of the customers, who are happy about the increased flexibility and reliability of their supplier, is also a welcome side effect.