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The Optimizer is appropriate for field service businesses that have a large number of engineers in a concentrated area. Generally, if over 30% of a service force is located in the top 10 areas, then optimization is appropriate. However, businesses with other needs can consider optimization.
In a centralized dispatch model, a team of dispatchers handles most dispatching for the full service business. Follow-the-sun support often drives this model. Customers can call 24 hours a day and are routed to an open service center somewhere in the world.
Customer support representatives must assign engineers to a call even though they do not know the local requirements and rules. The Optimizer has constraints so that when central dispatchers submit the activity, optimization is consistent with local priorities. Most activities can be automatically scheduled at a central location. A local service manager can manually handle any exceptions, eliminating the need for dedicated dispatch personnel.
Many companies must comply with strict limits on work hours and hazardous work. Union agreements might stipulate special conditions, such as fairness in work assignments. Automatically tracking these constraints can significantly decrease the burden on service businesses.
Service engineers can waste time traveling to and from customer sites. Many service businesses find that employees are either spending too much time in the office or are traveling needlessly back and forth between appointments.
By handling 2 calls in 1 area, travel time is decreased significantly and performance is increased. As service businesses move to a revenue base, an increase in revenue can yield a higher increase in profits.
A schedule can be too optimized. A schedule with high utilization (little available time) is usually preferable. However, past a certain point, further optimization can bring diminished cost savings. Furthermore, highly optimized schedules are easily corrupted. Minor changes can cause problems that affect the whole schedule.
For example, consider a schedule for an engineer who is scheduled from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. with no available time. If a single appointment runs over, then the engineer cannot complete all activities, leaving at least 1 activity to overtime or the next day. Plus, unexpected events such as a vehicle breakdown can completely disrupt this full schedule.
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