Dynamic Decision Support for driver and bus allocations

Dynamic Decision Support for driver and bus allocations 

For a few days in February, the Super Bowl was the most talked about event in the world.  

If you watched any of the action from Las Vegas, you saw a series of pre-planned moves executed by teams trained in specific tasks. When one of these moves went wrong, a key player – the quarterback – quickly assessed the situation and implemented the next-best option in real time. 

Thankfully, your drivers and mechanics are not being pursued around the depot by the Kansas City Chiefs. But there are other similarities. The highly trained employees in your business contribute their individual skills to the shared goal, which is to execute each day’s carefully prepared schedule.  

Things don’t always go according to plan, so when a driver or vehicle is unavailable at short notice your quarterback – the despatch coordinator – is under pressure to choose the best alternative that supports all of your business goals.  

The most experienced staff are well placed to handle these situations but are they always the ones making the selection? Annual leave, employee training, unplanned absences, and staff turnover mean this can’t always be the case. Experience is subjective, unlike algorithms, and decisions made in the past might not be the best guide for the decisions of the present.   

To ensure customers can optimise efficiency and cost effectiveness, we will soon introduce our Dynamic Decision Support (DDS) enhancement to the TIMS Despatch module. All your despatch staff, including the least experienced, will have the additional support they need to make the best selections, faster than ever.  

 Useful every day, invaluable in a crisis 

When allocating replacement drivers and vehicles, the sheer range of variables creates the potential for human error and unnecessary costs. This risk is amplified by accidents and delays, which make time sensitive adjustments to upcoming work a necessity.  

What if the next shift to leave the yard suddenly needs to be reallocated while an inexperienced coordinator is in the seat? He or she might make the right decision, but more likely this is a learning curve moment that has unintended consequences – and costs – for the business. In this scenario, it would help if the system could do some of the thinking for them. And let’s face it, even the most trusted team members can use assistance from time to time! 

DDS reduces uncertainty by dynamically filtering and ranking the ‘lowest cost’ and ‘best available’ options for quick and easy allocations, allowing despatch coordinators to make decisions with greater consistency and confidence.  

While this higher level of decision support is always useful, in a crisis it becomes invaluable. The despatch screen interface is designed to be user-friendly, with a pop-up allowing operators to click-and-drag the driver from the top of the list to their required shift. In scenarios where time is short, this simplicity enables accurate decisions by streamlining the process. 

Handing you the keys 

Developments to the Projected Payroll Calculations system mean it is now possible to make driver pay calculations ‘on the fly’. This is an integral part of the TIMS roster-to-payroll technical process which determines the overall cost associated with allocating tasks to drivers.  

Our ‘latest and greatest’ enhancement has created a master solution which accelerates these vital calculations and considers individual payroll variables at a granular level to determine the lowest cost driver in all instances.  

But what does ‘best available’ actually mean for your business, and how is ‘best’ defined? Trapeze’s established relationships with bus operators across the country have taught us that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to defining business goals. That’s why we’re handing you the keys.  

With DDS you can prioritise the criteria to rank and filter the best available driver and bus based upon your unique preferences. This might mean identifying the most cost-effective driver every time; or prioritising equity so hours are shared evenly across your driver pool; or reallocating work to casual staff whenever they are available.  

Whatever your desired allocation outcome might be, TIMS is configurable with the built-in flexibility to deliver consistently for your operation.  

DDS and the TIMS roadmap 

Prioritising DDS in early 2024 was a strategic decision in response to key issues facing the bus industry, according to Trapeze ANZ Bus Senior Product Manager, Bennett Humphries. 

“Dynamic Decision Support represents the next step in the evolution of TIMS, as defined by the guiding principles of our product roadmap,” he said. “These principles include enhancing data-driven decision making, dynamic dataflows, and operational efficiency – DDS delivers in all these areas. 

“We proactively identified this enhancement because it meets these principles while demonstrating our commitment to enabling better outcomes for customers. DDS aids efficiency by finding previously untapped productivity gains to offset escalating costs and improves decision-making by better integrating data into operations.” 

He also emphasised that DDS is intended to augment the skills of despatch teams, rather than negate them, as there can still be value in applying local knowledge. “For example, if the driver identified by TIMS is known to dislike a certain route, the operator could select the second best available on the list. That can still happen, with DDS supporting the underlying decision-making process.” 

Coming soon in 2024 

The new DDS functionality in TIMS will be included in our v24.2 product update, which customers can expect during the second quarter of 2024.  

Our team is available to discuss the TIMS product roadmap and explore ways the platform can support your business goals. If you would like to continue the conversation about DDS please contact us here 

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