By Mark Nardone
Blue Cow Software
Trucks on the road and technicians in the field, either making a fuel delivery or service call, are only assets when they are active and busy. Idle vehicles and people cost you money. Which is why the “art & science” practiced by dispatchers is such a critical component of your operation. The good news is that dispatch and routing software has become an increasingly valuable and helpful tool.
We’ve come a long way from road atlases and two-way radios. Modern dispatch management software, such as our Ignite® Mobile program, uses scheduling criteria that is specific to your company to automate the scheduling process, coordinate multiple functions, and maximize asset utilization.
Field service dispatch managers must be extremely well-organized organization and be able to handle rapidly changing situations. They are faced with the task of organizing incoming work requests, managing work-in-process, and recording completed requests, all while attempting to optimize the entire “dance.” Add in the vagaries of weather, traffic, and personnel moves and you can why dispatchers need to be flexible enough to handle shifting priorities and the many exceptions that arise during the typical day.
Which is why some of the latest features of dispatch management software are so helpful and appreciated. Among the advantages that are now part of many dispatch software systems are:
- Electronic Work Orders – Issue work orders to technicians in the field via tablet, circumventing the need for the tech to return to the office between service calls.
- Barcoding – A great benefit to help avoid “inventory creep” and ensure full invoicing for parts. Service technicians can simply scan the barcode on parts, equipment and components used during an installation or repair to automatically update inventory and add the part to the invoice at the current price.
- Built-In Messaging – With a system that incorporates a dedicated messaging platform, there is no longer a need for delivery drivers, service technicians, or sales team members to bounce back-and-forth between a separate messaging program and their company’s management program.
- Historic Data Integration – Dispatching and scheduling can be more precise when information from similar routes and jobs are included in the process. For example, if the system knows a heat exchanger replacement typically takes two hours, that can be automatically factored into the schedule.
- Tank Tracking – If your propane company needs to deliver, replace, or retrieve a tank from a customer’s location, the tank data can be automatically added to the work order. This helps you manage tank inventory and location.
- GPS Navigation & Traffic Routing – GPS is not new, but has seen significant improvements that include real-time traffic alerts, turn by turn navigation, and proximity alerts.
- Optimization Automation – Think your schedule of deliveries and service calls is all set for the day? Many dispatch programs will allow you to run optimization reviews to identify potential savings in time and resources, then automatically rework the schedule to deliver the best results.
The goal is a compact, efficient schedule featuring minimal travel time, minimal downtime, and minimal overtime, all of which contribute to the company’s bottom line by boosting productivity. To that end, the decision criteria that you enter into your dispatch management system should be aligned with your company’s specific business objectives and processes.
If you would like to learn more about how the right mobile dispatch software can help you improve efficiency and boost your bottom line, call us at (888) 499-2583 or click here.