Why GPS And Real-Time Traffic Are Essential For Effective Field Service Scheduling...

Nov 12, 2018 • FeaturesFleet TechnologyFLSWorkforce Schedulingfast lean smartfield servicefield service managementfleet managementJeremy SquireService EngineerService ManagementtelematicsField TechnologiesGPS TrackingReal-time trafficManaging the Mobile Workforce

The blend of GPS, real-time traffic information and latest workforce scheduling can yield previously unknown levels of efficiency for field service delivery. Jeremy Squire, Managing Directo, FLS, Fast Lean Smart explains how... 

The convergence between field force scheduling and vehicle tracking is not something on the horizon, it has already arrived - and with precise arrival times now offered by private car hire and delivery companies such as Uber, DPD, IKEA and Amazon, customers are already expecting the same for field service appointments and anything less may be perceived as poor service. It is fast becoming a necessity for field service companies to both realise and embrace this as essential to achieve.

At FLS, Fast Lean Smart, we specialise in scheduling and route optimisation solutions and our customers are increasingly interested in this convergence of technologies. I believe it is vital for most field service companies to consider this and let’s take a moment to look at both how and why you should be doing likewise.

If live GPS location coordinates are provided to FLS VISITOUR, our leading scheduling technology, we can re-plan your engineer job schedules based on exactly where they are in their current route rather than wait until a confirmation of arrival from their mobile app.

The system could be configured to automatically re-optimise the rest of the day ‘real-time’ for engineers based on the location updates. This might enable additional jobs, highlight where an SLA or appointment slot will be missed and optionally remove lower priority jobs from the schedule unless overtime is approved.

[quote float="left"]With the convergence of these technologies and capabilities, there really has been no better opportunity to enrich the profitability of your business whilst achieving happier engineers and happier customers[/quote]Many service operations, however, decide against this level of fluidity for their engineer’s day and therefore might choose to lock the next jobs or even the whole day and only make changes in exceptional circumstances and under the control of a planner. This is particularly true for tasks which require the engineer to have parts or for appointments that require preparation.

What is certain, however, is that knowing issues with the current plan in the back office is key for customer service and engineer welfare, therefore the more accurate this is the better. The driving durations used by the scheduling algorithm are also very important to achieve this objective and at FLS we use actual average drive speeds for each road segment according to time of day for pre-planning. Variable traffic congestion is a severe issue in some areas, therefore, we also use a real-time feed of current traffic to optimise during the day. With this combination, drive durations are as accurate as we have all become accustomed to when using TomTom Live or Google Navigation on our smartphones.

It requires this high level of accuracy to enable reliable automated messaging to customers with the refined time of arrival for engineers. However, combining GPS location data in the FLS VISITOUR scheduling system also enables our FLS Customer Portal which can be accessed via a URL in the arrival time message and for your customers to track the arrival of the engineer from the previous job on a map, Uber style! (no more ’Where’s my engineer?’ calls.)

This capability has now become the goal of almost every field service provider we speak with, not just  B2C, and whilst currently a USP we can expect it will increasingly become the norm.

Of course, all this has terrific benefits for the service provider as well as the customer.

Maximising productivity and minimising cost in the field whilst giving good service (right engineer with the right parts etc) is a standard desire for everyone, however, with the convergence of these technologies and capabilities, there really has been no better opportunity to enrich the profitability of your business whilst achieving happier engineers and happier customers.

To deliver this level of performance and customer excellence, integrating engineer tracking is essential and there is an answer for every circumstance; a vehicle telematics system, a low-cost GPS cigarette lighter tracker or a phone/tablet app such as FLS MOBILE.

The days of customers waiting blindly for an engineer to arrive are on the way out and field service companies must adapt to these new expectations swiftly to avoid being seen as outdated and uncompetitive. The good news is that the solutions are already available - it is just a case of connecting the dots - and FLS VISITOUR is a solution that allows you to do just that.


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