Today’s customer has a large set of demands. When he buys a product or uses a service, he has high expectations for the level of service provided by firms. Most businesses are aware of this, but many still struggle to meet those high customer expectations and deliver a consistent level of service.

The reason? Schedules are rarely static in real life and are a complex interplay of time, money, materials, efficiency and productivity. In this article, we’ll tell you how to tackle this challenge and use “Planning, Scheduling and Optimization” to create an optimal schedule that ensures higher customer satisfaction.

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The importance of automated scheduling optimization

For many companies, creating an optimized schedule is a daunting challenge. Do you want to create a schedule that is efficient and practical? Then you need to consider a number of factors. For example:

  • ● The use and productivity of technicians. Can they fully focus on their core tasks or do they have to perform all kinds of side jobs that reduce their productivity? Think, for example, of a technician who spends more time retracing problems and manually filling in work orders than actually doing repairs.
  • ● The resolution of repairs and requests. Is a problem or ticket resolved right away on the first visit or are three additional follow-ups needed to satisfy the customer?

An automated planning and scheduling optimization helps you to eliminate the problems mentioned above. Many routine activities are performed much faster, while employees throughout the chain now have their hands free for tasks (advice, service, quick technical assistance) that add real value to your products or services.

How to plan, schedule and optimize work

There are several ways to put automated scheduling optimization into practice. Time to take a look at a few tried and true clever methods that together form a process known as ‘work planning, scheduling and optimization.

Capacity planning (forecasting)

Recent advances in AI and data analytics mean that it is easier and cheaper than ever to forecast the future capacity of resources and personnel. For example, Gartner cites the example of a European bank that, using data from its ERP system and spreadsheets, built a new forecasting system for its call centers. The result? The error rate decreased, call centers became more productive, and predictions about customer needs and future resource and staffing requirements gained precision.

Order management

Successful order management is another important pillar of an optimal planning strategy. It enables companies to provide a good end-to-end service. As a result, the number of satisfied and loyal customers grows. Automated and optimized order management monitors all parts and links within the ordering process.

It enables you to quickly submit service requests, diagnose problems and view all assets, contracts, warranties and parts. You comply with SLAs more easily and offer both the customer and your own employees more transparency.

Routing optimization

Routing optimization is another building block for scheduling optimization. Many schedules go haywire because of traffic jams or other delays along the way. Suppose a technician has to visit twenty addresses in a day and you are working with a team of several technicians. How do you make sure that those people choose the fastest possible routes, avoid most traffic jams and get to the customer on time?

It is difficult for a human brain to know and weigh all the variables that determine optimal routes. In the case of routing optimization, you make use of the calculating power of smart algorithms. These algorithms quickly map out all the parameters and weigh them to arrive at the optimal route. Optimal route planning saves field engineers and mechanics time but also reduces your company's transportation and fuel costs.

Real-time Planning and Scheduling

Real-time planning helps organizations and personnel to respond faster to volatile markets and the constantly changing wants and needs of customers. This is because you are always steering based on the latest information. For example, a tool like IFS Planning and Scheduling Optimization uses AI to reduce travel time, improve first-time fix rates and increase the SLA hit for your service. The tool is based on the principle of "Multi-Time Horizon Planning. This enables you to include all parts of service processes in your strategy.

Inventory management of (spare) parts

Proper spare parts inventory management is essential to the success of a manufacturer or maintenance team. After all, poor control and planning of spare parts can lead to inefficient inventory storage and a shortage of parts. And like it's almost foreordained: it always happens when you're in desperate need of components, generating delays and unexpected costs.

Fortunately, you can also largely automate this process nowadays with the right maintenance planning software. This way you always know how many and which parts you still have and when your stock reaches a critical point. At the same time, you prevent your warehouses from overflowing with parts that you don't need for the time being.

Start optimizing your planning and scheduling today!

You see: work planning and scheduling is a philosophy and method by which you bring automated scheduling optimization out of the realm of abstract theory and into the real world.

Would you like to learn more about automated scheduling optimization? And would you like to get to know the tools that make this improved way of working possible? Then you’ve come to the right place at Eqeep. We know the specific challenges of your industry and can respond appropriately with a powerful and advanced planning tool. Curious about what we can do for you? Feel free to contact us anytime.

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