Dispatch software, sometimes known as Day of Operations software, was initially developed to make the lives of depot staff easier. The software allows dispatch staff to assign work in the form of driver duties, to match vehicles with drivers and then manage the days’ workflow.
This software helps coordinate vehicle replacement due to accidents or breakdowns and driver replacement due to leave and illness. The latest systems allow total management of vehicles and drivers. Vehicle management has evolved from capturing basic data like chassis information and licencing, to managing and scheduling vehicle maintenance, and storing complete maintenance records.
The tight integration between workshop and maintenance systems allows depot staff to see which vehicles are available, look at their repair status, and quickly identify scheduled and unplanned maintenance. These systems also allow drivers to log maintenance issues when they arise.
Dispatch software makes use of a roster for drivers and can either import a roster from the planning software and then attach driver’s names to the various rosters or has the tools to build its own roster from the planned shifts. Many of these software packages now allow for self-management by drivers, making use of kiosks and mobile apps on smartphones. Drivers can book holidays, notify the depot if they are ill, and select the work assignments they want to do. More advanced systems allow drivers to ‘bid’ for their preferred work assignments.
Systems like these allow for the easy reporting of total worked time by integrating with payroll systems or an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution. This dramatically simplifies the financial management and accounting system for operators. Systems can also integrate with other ITS elements, such as using the driver identity on the ticketing system to automatically sign into allocated work on the Automatic Vehicle Location and Control (AVLC) system.
Dispatch software benefits include:
Legal compliance with workplace agreements and legislated requirements. By monitoring driver hours, the system ensures that drivers and operators comply with workplace agreements and do not exceed legislated driving requirements. Working long shifts with inadequate breaks causes fatigue that results in more accidents. Drivers also need a work/life balance, so better scheduled and managed shifts improve this and lead to well-rested drivers who are more alert. Drivers are safer, and operators have confidence they are not inadvertently breaking the law.
Better communication. An operational public transport environment is extremely busy. Key messages can be missed or distorted. With a comprehensive driver management system, everyone receives the same message. There are valuable and auditable records of what was sent and received, when it was read, and any responses.
Easier vehicle and fleet management. Vehicle management, including knowing those not available due to breakdown, repairs, or maintenance, is one of the most significant issues for operational teams. Streamlining this can make operations smoother, with staff knowing what resources are available to run services, with maintenance teams aware of upcoming work. Not only are efficiencies improved, but greater visibility means less stress for depot staff.
When assessing dispatch software, the following questions should be asked:
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Bus, Trams/Light Rail, Ferry
Intelligent Transport Systems
Industry Solutions Manager, ITS