FIELD SERVICE OPTIMISATION: SOFTWARE TO RESCHEDULE IN REAL-TIME
4 min. reading time
02 August 2021 ·
n this post, we'll introduce the technology behind FLS field service optimisation software, and how it helps organisations respond to last-minute appointment cancellations.
Whether it's maintenance, inspection, certification or emergency repair, a planning department responsible for scheduling jobs for field workers will at some point be faced with unexpected delays, employee absences and appointment cancellations. While these situations are by definition unplanned, how a company responds to them is entirely up to them. An inefficient solution would look something like this: Scheduling could move up the day's appointments, ignoring the creation of idle time at the end of the working day. Companies could also send a 'currently available' employee to an assignment in an area not assigned to them, wasting time and CO2 emissions and, most importantly, increasing costs. Not an optimal solution either. In fact, field service optimisation should balance proactive and reactive planning factors to always achieve the best result. Companies should be able to rely on the field force optimisation software's rescheduling and its reaction to unplanned events.
Modern field service optimisation software deals with reactive scheduling through the consideration of a vast array of parameters. By choosing a best-of-breed field service optimisation software, it is possible to manage intra-day cancellations in a way that produces an outcome to satisfy all stakeholders, and in most cases, improve KPIs.
OPTIMISATION BEGINS WITH VALUABLE PARAMETERS
Whether you use field service optimisation software or not, if the only factor taken into account when rescheduling is how close on the map the next technician is to the next appointment, then you are already disregarding countless other parameters and foregoing a high level of efficiency. By using digital tools, various data can be automatically examined and evaluated in the case of intra-day appointment cancellations, among other things.
This data includes:
Appointment type and length
Operating restrictions such as SLAs
Field staff working hours and
For true real-time field service optimisation, FLS VISITOUR software uses unique AI power to consider other parameters. Examples include:
Existing restrictions such as available skills, location and available (spare) parts
Traffic/driving time data and current weather conditions
Constraints such as those imposed by vehicle type restrictions such as size and weight
Removal of hard area boundaries (patches)
It is therefore obvious that field service optimisation is not possible to the full extent, even with software, should you not have the data you need.
HOW FAST IS OPTIMISED RESTRUCTURING?
Field service optimisation software must calculate a whole range of influencing variables. Companies that have set up their field service well know that the shortest or fastest routes do not necessarily result in the best tours.
The approach of field service optimisation software goes far beyond simply optimising travel time and distance. Take a company that installs boilers as an example. The installation work requires a heating engineer and an electrician. Both have necessary skills to commission a boiler. However, both have different schedules for the day. FLS VISITOUR automatically recognises that the jobs are linked and moves the cancelled appointment for both technicians to a new, optimal time slot.
This makes it clear that this complex planning, which runs in the background, can only be solved or eliminated with an algorithm. In this way, manual errors in planning and enormous administrative and time requirements for scheduling will no longer play a role in your company in the future. FLS digital field service management tools and field service optimisation software, which are based on the PowerOpt algorithm, replace 'batch' rescheduling with dynamic, automatically-refreshed appointment management. In seconds, FLS VISITOUR reacts to changing conditions, no matter how extensive. (Again, this is real-time scheduling).
NEXT LEVEL SOFTWARE CAN PREVENT CANCELLATIONS
So far, we have looked at software that eliminates the scheduling burden associated with rescheduling after a same-day appointment cancellation. But how can scheduling software fundamentally improve appointment booking to minimise future risks of appointment cancellation?
Firstly, by using the PowerOpt algorithm to intelligently predict future appointment durations based on historical data. FLS VISITOUR automatically uses predictive lead times for orders whose durations were not known or filled when the order was created. A company might also need a placeholder function if an important part has been delayed or if a certain skill is needed from an engineer but he is not currently available to the company.
The PowerOpt algorithm performs custom calculations that directly impact scheduling. It takes into account historical "learned" data (such as geographically dependent factors) and adjusts the preliminary scheduling window accordingly. In the case of a large number of operations with an expected duration, the totality of the individual predictions results in an accurate planning situation. Organisations achieve a high degree of scheduling reliability and your customers benefit from a greatly increased chance of a first-time fix.
Secondly, the first appointment windows offered to customers should already be optimised. Customers are less likely to cancel appointments if they have self-selected one from a selection of appointments, are kept up to date with automated text messages and email reminders, and can track the processing of their needs in an integrated self-service portal.
WHAT CAN REAL-TIME OPTIMISATION SOLVE IN YOUR FIELD SERVICE ORGANISATION?