What We’ve Learned
You hear a lot about routing when discussing telematics solutions. “Does it do routing for you?” “Does it have routing?” “Will it route me?” The answer is almost always yes – but you may not like the results using just one function. Routing is sort of a loaded word, and people generally have a lot of expectations and ideas of what routing means to them, but that meaning is not always well defined.
For example – do you want to use your GIS Streets data? The truth is most GIS road networks are not complete or accurate enough to adequately route. Do you want routing to take into account traffic, speed limits, or time of day? Most “callable” routing algorithms do not provide this. If you told your crews they must follow your optimized route for jobs that day, and they know that going to job #3 will bring them to a standstill traffic jam for the next 3 hours, do you really want them to follow your prioritized route? You want to route work orders or inspections – but what happens if crews finish early or do not finish on time (one of these scenarios happens most of the time). In this case you’ll need to reroute for the next day, dependent on what happened today – which starts to get a little complicated. We think the ideal routing involves 3 steps:
1. Do planned routing in the back office and send jobs to be done in a sequential list to the field worker.
2. Field workers take the list, and with access to traffic issues they decide what job to do based on their environment.
3. Provide functionality that lets field workers prioritize work and use turn by turn routing for the next best job.
Different routing functionality is needed at different times, and staff need the flexibility to identify and re-prioritize work as the day goes forward. Ad hoc changes happen a lot. “Flexible routing” also allows for crews to pick up lower priority, but quick, jobs when they finish a bigger job nearby. In this scenario, crews do not have enough time to start a big job, but enough time to do some simple jobs in the vicinity. Operations managers I’ve talked to think this ability to pick up ad hoc work, amongst planned jobs, provides one of the biggest operational efficiencies to be had using LiGO.