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Mind blowing ways to do scheduling and calendar visualizations

Mind blowing ways to do scheduling and calendar visualizations

It is estimated that 20-30% of the human brain is dedicated to visual processing. In an experiment conducted by brain researchers, it was found that it took as little as 12 points of a human outline shape for other people to determine it was a person. We are visual creatures and understanding through visual pictures can be much more powerful and faster than reading text. When scheduling your transportation services there are a couple of challenges faced when trying to efficiently schedule your drivers. Take a peek at some of those challenges below and where effective calendar visualizations and software automation can help.

In many cases, volunteer drivers and paid drivers are part-time, and obtaining, maintaining, and modifying their schedules can be arduous, painful, and error-prone when using spreadsheets or paper/pencil methods. Having a simple way for drivers to input their schedules from what days/times they are available on a daily or a recurring basis and even what geographic coverage they are willing to serve can go a long way to relieving scheduling headaches for dispatchers. In addition to driver tools that can do this, having the ability for dispatchers to view/modify these schedules can also be beneficial. In both cases, SPEDSTA’s web application allows easy access to scheduling driver availability.

Once the drivers’ schedules are entered into the system, one of the next challenges dispatchers/planners face is how to efficiently use the time of those drivers. As rides are booked, they are typically then assigned to a driver in a planning session the day before or the week before the rides happen. Fully automated route planning tools can be used when driver shifts are long and flexible but might not be useful when drivers have small windows of available time and there are many drivers to use.  To efficiently manually assign those rides to drivers, a typical problem faced is how to sequence rides so that drivers allocated time is fully used. Doing this based on the time of the rides can be sub-optimal. A more efficient way to do this is to visualize the ride sequence on a daily calendar view which would show not only the ride pickup/dropoff sequence but also other pertinent information such as travel time, distance, and “schedule holes”. SPEDSTA’s calendar view solution enables such instant visualizing, allowing dispatchers/planners to cut down route planning by 50% and also fully maximize all the driver’s time available in one “resource view”. Rides can be dragged/dropped in these views for ease of visualization. In addition to the “resource” planning view, there are daily, weekly, and monthly calendar views that can give the “30,000” foot view of how the overall scheduling is looking.  Time conflicts between rides that are overlapping for the same driver are also alerted to planners for action.

The next step is to distribute the ride schedule to the drivers. SPEDSTA’s tools include a driver web portal that allows them to access all pickup/dropoff rides in a “manifest” form. These manifests allow ride sequences to be modified in real-time, canceled, removed, and added to.  For those drivers that use traditional calendaring systems such as Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo, and other systems, rides can be immediately added through ICS files directly to their calendars.

Having visual scheduling tools can be a necessary part of a transportation service’s goal to more efficiently utilize scarce driver time. Contact us at SPEDSTA to schedule a demo of how it works!