Prague, May 26, 2003
Ralf Keuthen (a.p.solve
ltd., United Kingdom)
in Mobile Workforce Management
- High quality customer
relations and the provision of fault free service represent an important
issue for leading telecommunications, cable and utility companies. In order
to achieve this, companies employ a large field workforce to provide services
to residential and business customers and carry out fault repairs and maintenance
work. For example, British Telecom supports a mobile workforce of more than
20.000 technicians that perform in excess of 100.000 tasks each day across
the United Kingdom. For a workforce of this scale high quality workforce
management solutions are crucial to achieve a high standard of service while
maintaining low operational costs.
Creating efficient work schedules for a mobile workforce is a highly complex
task due to a dynamic and uncertain environment. Changes to the scheduling
environment may be introduced by various sources such as the company itself,
the customers and the technicians. While the schedule is executed new tasks
are introduced following a company or customer request; existing activities
may change due to cancellations, amendments or reviews of business objectives.
Furthermore, technician availability is subject to uncertainty because of
traffic, variations in task duration or vehicle breakdowns. Technological
advances in the management of mobile workers via Personal Digital Assistants
and mobile telephony have enabled companies to automate workforce management
operations and react to these environmental changes in real-time.
To enable quick reaction times in this dynamic environment and ensure high
quality service to its customers British Telecom developed the fully automated
workforce management application TASKFORCE that is now marketed by a.p.solve.
Among other operations, TASKFORCE automates the allocation of tasks to technicians,
the task despatching process and monitors the progress of tasks in the system.
The implementation of TASKFORCE has increased productivity at BT by about
15 per cent and enabled BT to introduce new service offerings on the speed
of provision and repair to both business and residential customers.
- Ralf Keuthen
holds a MSc degree in Numerical Analysis and gained his PhD at the Automated
Scheduling, Optimisation and Planning Group of the University of Nottingham,
UK. After the completion of his PhD studies in 2001 he joined a.p.solve
ltd, a recent spin-off of the British Telecom Research Laboratories BTexact,
as a research scientist. At a.p.solve he explores new scheduling technologies
for mobile workforce management. Among other projects he is currently involved
in the design and development of the Next Generation Dynamic Scheduler,
a mobile workforce scheduling system currently developed by the BTexact
Intelligent Systems Lab in collaboration with a.p.solve.
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