VAG Nuremburg keeps drivers happy with better roster planning

Published on 04-Mar-2013

"For about a year now, we have been using the IBM preference roster planning solution in all three divisions of VAG – bus, tram and subway. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, because satisfaction rates are usually about 80 percent at the end of the roster creation." - Erich Frisch, Workforce Deployment Manager, VAG

Customer:
VAG Nuremburg

Industry:
Travel & Transportation

Deployment country:
Germany

Solution:
Enabling Business Flexibility, Information Governance, Information Integration, Smarter Planet, Transforming Business

Smarter Planet:
Smarter Transportation

IBM Business Partner:
MOVEO Software GmbH

Overview

Verkehrs-Aktiengesellschaft Nuremberg (VAG) is a fully owned subsidiary of Städtische Werke Nürnberg GmbH, an agency of the city of Nuremberg. Approximately 1,800 employees ensure the smooth running of public transport, comprising nearly 400 private buses, trams and subway trains in Nuremberg and the adjacent regions, as well as in the neighboring cities of Fürth and Erlangen. Some 870 drivers cover a daily distance of approximately 80,000 km.

Business need:
Verkehrs-Aktiengesellschaft (VAG), responsible for operating public transport in Nuremburg, wanted to make its driver scheduling more efficient while taking into account the individual drivers’ preferences. The objective was to improve VAG’s competitive position through lower costs and yet increase the attractiveness of the workplace for drivers. Conventional scheduling methods were unable to cope with the operational variety and complexity.

Solution:
By using the IBM® ILOG® CPLEX® Optimization Studio, VAG can create cost-effective scheduling while largely taking into account the individual preferences of hundreds of employees. The solution enables compliance with many other regulations, and minimizes operational costs.

Benefits:
Reduces labour costs by reducing deviation from the contractually-agreed working time by about 60 percent. Minimises costly unplanned overtime by up to 70 percent. Takes up to 80 percent of individual driver preferences into account, increasing the attractiveness of the workplace. Reduces manual rescheduling by about 25 percent, reducing dispatchers’ workload.

Case Study

To read a German version of this case study, please click here

Smarter Transportation: Satisfied drivers and lower costs
Instrumented: The individual scheduling requests of hundreds of drivers together with all the data on the services to be provided, the legal requirements, employment contracts, qualifications and other factors are included in a mathematical optimization model.

Interconnected: Employees enter their individual service period preferences via the internet. Other information is provided from a variety of data sources such as payroll, personnel planning systems and document archives.

Intelligent: By using linear programming methods, the new solution rapidly generates preference schedules for hundreds of drivers, meeting more than 80 percent of driver schedule requests while reducing labor costs.

Verkehrs-Aktiengesellschaft Nuremberg (VAG) is a fully owned subsidiary of Städtische Werke Nürnberg GmbH, an agency of the city of Nuremberg. Approximately 1,800 employees ensure the smooth running of public transport, comprising nearly 400 private buses, trams and subway trains in Nuremberg and the adjacent regions, as well as in the neighboring cities of Fürth and Erlangen. Some 870 drivers cover a daily distance of approximately 80,000 km.

Service schedule design is one of the most complex tasks in public transport. The main goal is to fulfil the planned transport schedule on all lines with the existing vehicles and employees. To achieve this, a variety of requirements must be satisfied, including driving and rest periods legislation, calendar data, personal qualifications and authorizations, employee vacation time, and many other factors.

Due to its complexity, scheduling was previously carried out according to strict rules and fixed sequences of on-duty and off-duty days for each employee.

Rigid work schedules affect job satisfaction
Eric Frisch, Workforce Deployment Manager at VAG, outlines the initial situation: “In the past, the roster for our drivers was created on the basis of rigid plans. As a result, we had firmly fixed sequences of on-duty and rest periods for each employee that would hardly change throughout the year. Thus the private lives of our employees had to be aligned with the schedules. About ten years ago, IT solutions became available that supported us in roster planning and significantly simplified and accelerated the work of our more than thirty dispatchers at that time. However, the results were still very inflexible and could not take into account the individual preferences of our staff.”

The IBM Business Partner MOVEO Software GmbH in Potsdam is among the leading suppliers of innovative software for transportation companies in the areas of workforce planning, deployment and costing. VAG had already used MOVEO’s profahr software, which has already reduced the time taken and simplified the process for establishing the duty rosters. However, some preferences had yet to be taken into account.

Modern working life is increasingly characterized by the individuality of each employee, which must be taken into account in the rosters as far as possible. Different drivers express different working hours requirements. For example, early risers usually prefer early rosters; many young people like to do night work; employees over 55 no longer want to work over the weekend or at night. Many employees also have other regular personal commitments, ranging from child care and medical treatment to the membership of sports clubs and societies. In the competition to attract qualified personnel, satisfying individual working preferences plays an important role in attracting staff.

Up to 80 percent of individual preferences satisfied
To expand the functionality and improve the automatically generated preference rosters, MOVEO Software integrated IBM ILOG CPLEX Optimization Studio into the personnel scheduling solution. IBM ILOG CPLEX Optimization Studio calculates optimal solutions for problems that involve numerous constraints (such as scheduling) by applying complex algorithms and linear optimization methods. Following its introduction at VAG, the solution offered an unprecedented degree of freedom in taking into account employees’ preferences, and won high acceptance ratings.

Erich Frisch reports: “For about a year now, we have been using the IBM preference roster planning solution in all three divisions of VAG – bus, tram and subway. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, because satisfaction rates are usually about 80 percent at the end of the roster creation. Our drivers enter their individual roster preferences via the internet, either via terminals on the company’s premises or via a PC at home. In addition to the preferred service times, employees can also request days off, for example for family celebrations. The employees prioritize their preferences in order of importance using a five-point rating system, because experience has shown that even with the smartest solution, not all preferences can be fully satisfied. For example, hardly anyone likes to work over Easter or Christmas.”

Process advantages, cost reductions
VAG has reported substantial process advantages and cost reductions as a result of the preference roster planning solution. Individual preferences for the monthly service plan can be entered in the VAG report until up to two weeks before the start of the month. IBM ILOG CPLEX then takes into account the drivers’ preferences, service hours, work contract data, calendar data, legal requirements, dates for education and training and other conditions, and produces a draft roster plan. This first version is used for detailed planning, and is editable.

The roster generation process only takes a few hours. The most highly prioritized preferences are taken into account as far as possible, and employees can see this for themselves on screen by means of a comparison between their preferences and the actual service requirements. The staff association is pleased with the high level of satisfaction of all parties, and experience shows that satisfied employees are more productive, and often less prone to illness.

The new solution offers many other tangible benefits. Duty scheduling is now purely objective and fairer to all concerned, which increases employee satisfaction. The new solution improves legal security significantly by providing an unbroken documentation trail for the roster process.

Personnel costs reduced
“After the introduction of the new solution, we noticed that we were paying out considerably less in monthly wages, because our schedules no longer deviate so much from the working hours agreed in our employees’ contracts,” says Erich Frisch. “Instead of paying for hours that employees aren’t actually working, or paying a premium for overtime, we keep our payroll much more accurate. The new preference roster solution from MOVEO and IBM has more than tripled the proportion of rosters that stay close to the contractual working hours.”

Unplanned working hours that occur during off-duty time are particularly unpleasant for employees and expensive for the company. The new solution has reduced “on-duty during off-duty” situations by about 70 percent.

Even after the introduction of the new preference rosters, dispatchers occasionally need to allocate and reschedule services due to short-term incidents. Even allowing for this – and corrections are still possible at any time with the new solution – manual adjustments have decreased by about 25 percent, a tremendous help in reducing dispatchers’ workloads.

Additional operational areas
“We recently integrated two large depots of our company,” explains Erich Frisch. “In this case, the flexibility of the MOVEO profahr preference roster solution, the IBM ILOG CPLEX software and the comprehensive planning capabilities have proved to be outstanding. I am sure that we will keep our personnel costs under control in the long-term, while improving the attractiveness of the workplace.”

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Software:
IBM ILOG CPLEX Optimization Studio

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2013 IBM Deutschland GmbH 71137 Ehningen Deutschland ibm.com/de IBM Österreich Obere Donaustrasse 95 1020 Wien ibm.com/at IBM Schweiz Vulkanstrasse 106 8010 Zürich ibm.com/ch Produced in Germany February 2013 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, Let’s Build A Smarter Planet, Smarter Planet, the planet icons, CPLEX and ILOG are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at: ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml. MOVEO profahr is a product of MOVEO Software GmbH. IBM and MOVEO Software GmbH are separate companies and each is responsible for its own products. Neither IBM nor MOVEO Software GmbH makes any warranties, express or implied, concerning the other’s products. This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The client examples cited are presented for illustrative purposes only. Actual performance results may vary depending on specific configurations and operating conditions. It is the user’s responsibility to evaluate and verify the operation of any other products or programs with IBM products and programs. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided. The client is responsible for ensuring compliance with laws and regulations applicable to it. IBM does not provide legal advice or represent or warrant that its services or products will ensure that the client is in compliance with any law or regulation.