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A system and method for minimizing route crossings and route overlaps in workforce scheduling

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000237141D
Publication Date: 2014-Jun-05
Document File: 4 page(s) / 2M

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Related People

Dr. Carsten Franke: INVENTOR [+3]

Abstract

The proposed method enhances the known methods for solving workforce scheduling problems on finding crossings in routes in a two-dimensional space without any travel time considerations on the routes. The basic idea is to increase the customer and technician perception of the solution quality by using the objective to minimize the route crossings during workforce scheduling. The currently used simple counting of crossings is extended by including a time component and crossings over shared street segments.

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A system and method for minimizing route crossings and route overlaps in workforce scheduling

Background

The task of workforce optimization in general solves the problem of assigning a set of customer orders to a set of technicians and defining the routes for the technicians. This assignment consists of many constraints such as customer order time windows, working hours for technicians, required break times and durations for technicians, technical skills of the technicians, possible pre-assignment of technicians into shifts, and travel time constraints between any subsequent customer orders.

Service organizations in the utility and communications industries operate in an ever-changing environment of rising costs, complex regulations, mergers and acquisitions, and customers’ high expectations of reliability, responsiveness and service quality. To meet these challenges, it is critical that utilities optimize their service delivery by making efficient use of field technicians and equipment, and improve the reliability of critical assets.

Beside the general problem and the constraints at hand, the service quality is often perceived as poor by customers and service technicians, if service vehicles pass a service order location to fulfill another one or service vehicles are crossing each other’s ways (inefficiency). Furthermore, the technicians expect later customer complaints based on the assumption that some customers have seen the other vehicle already. Therefore, a workforce scheduling system is needed that can handle the requirement of minimizing the crossings of duty routes. Moreover, a system is needed that is able to recognize crossings and street segments that are traversed by multiple technicians dependent on the time of travel of the technicians and the appointment window agreement with the customer. Thus, the problem is manifold, on the one hand crossings and shared street segments need to be recognized, for which the travel routes need to be known street by street as well as the corresponding travel time. On the other hand the duty routes need to be optimized to have as little interactions as possible.

Problem to be solved:

In workforce scheduling, customers ask for a service request at a certain location, e.g. a private home, business building or an electrical site. Then this request is processed and assigned to a service technician or a crew of service technicians. The customer gets an appointment time window for the service technician to arrive at his location.

A major source for complaints from the customers are thereby, if service technicians pass the customer location on their way to another location, especially when this occurs within the given appointment time-window. This can happen for various reasons, e.g., the service technician is on his way to an emergency call or to a higher priority customer or the technician simply does not have the right skillset to work at the customer’s location or the appointment time windows...