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Real-Time Integration: Getting your Technology to Speak the Same Language

Nov 29, 2017
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A fully integrated system has immense power in streamlining communications and interactions between various departments in the organization. There are many other potential integration scenarios your peer agencies are taking advantage of today.

Let’s first start by looking at the integration of real-time information from vehicle systems and the BOCC/ROCC with the Operations workforce management system (for window dispatch at each yard) and then we will review interactions between BOCC/ROCC and Maintenance. 

Vehicle Systems and Workforce Management

With integration between real-time ITS vehicles and workforce management systems, you can reduce the amount of dual-entry required by users by creating more flow-through processes between the features and functions of the two systems.

Employee and vehicle information and daily assignments are shared between the two systems. This ensures that maintenance of these pieces of information is only done once. In addition, as the day begins, vehicle operators and vehicles are seamlessly matched up, freeing your supervisors and dispatchers to focus on making the pull-out happen.

As the day unfolds, dispatchers in either system can make modifications to assignments or to the service which automatically appear in the other system. This streamlines the management of service disruptions and changes as well as eliminates the potential for miscommunications that can often occur during incident management. For example, assume a vehicle has broken down. The operator has communicated with the BOCC/ROCC that this has occurred and then the dispatcher is able to split the work, dispatch a new vehicle, and assign a new operator if necessary. This information is then sent automatically to the workforce management system so that the supervisor and window dispatcher is notified and actual pay can be adjusted automatically.

In another example, let’s assume that an operator has called in sick for the afternoon shift. The supervisor using the workforce management system has decided to offer this work piece to a few of the operators that are still on the road. The supervisor can initiate an automated message to the mobile data terminals of the selected operator’s vehicles and present them with the offer. The operator can then answer with a simple Yes/No text response, eliminating the need for the window dispatcher to contact the BOCC or ROCC to manage this request via radio communications with these operators. Once an operator has accepted the work via MDT response, the assignments can be updated and actual pay will be adjusted based on the configured pay rules.

Workforce Management and Maintenance

Just like in the case of vehicle systems and workforce management, an EAM system used by Maintenance can also share key pieces of information to reduce data maintenance and improve inter-departmental communications. In this case as well, both employee and vehicle information is shared to eliminate dual entry and potential data mismatches. In addition, a modern purpose-built workforce management tool can be used to manage all of the maintenance workforce activities like bidding, daily activity, and timekeeping.

Before the service day begins and the dispatchers are preparing to make their assignments, the EAM system will report what vehicles are not going to be available for service because they will be undergoing maintenance activities. This will ensure that operators are not assigned to vehicles that Maintenance needs to work on that morning. This will reduce the chances for miscommunications between departments regarding vehicle availability as vehicle information shows up in each TOPS module that requires that information.

During the operating day, incidents can also be managed between the two systems. For example, let’s assume that an operator has signed in for pull-out and has completed their vehicle inspection, but has reported to their supervisor that there is some graffiti on one of the seats. The supervisor, on behalf of the operator, can use the workforce management system to open a service request with Maintenance. The supervisor will select the appropriate type of service needed and then the service request will be created in the EAM system, allowing the Maintenance staff to schedule the vehicle for service.  

And there you have it: an integrated system that talks to all the different departments in your agency - so you can spend less time running around getting or giving information and more time proactively improving your transit agency.

Marcelo Bravo has dedicated his entire career to rail and transit with over 25 years of experience in the industry. Previous responsibilities have included the delivery of passenger rail cars from cradle to grave, Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software, and management consulting to transit authorities and railroads, in both North America and abroad. As the Industry Solutions Manager for Rail, Marcelo is in charge of the rail market strategy for North America, which encompasses the Trapeze Rail Enterprise range of offerings.
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