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In field service management, the effective planning and scheduling of resources play a crucial role in ensuring efficient operations and customer satisfaction. While Planning and Scheduling Optimization (PSO) has traditionally been associated with larger teams and high appointment volumes, its value extends even to low-volume field service scenarios. In this blog post, I will explore the significance of using PSO in low-volume field service scenarios and discuss how it can bring profound benefits to businesses. James will draw upon the experiences of Tetra Pak, a global packaging leader, to understand how PSO has transformed its operations and enhanced its service delivery. 

Unlocking Value in Low-Volume Field Service Scenarios 

I am often asked about the limitations of using automated planning tools in situations where engineer coverage is limited and the number of jobs per day is low. Although the benefits of PSO increase with larger teams, it can still provide significant value even in low-volume scenarios. Tetra Pak is an excellent example of this, where each engineer attends only one or two customer sites daily. In this case, the value lies in automating the complex planning and scheduling processes, relieving the planning department of time-consuming tasks and optimizing resource allocation. 

Tetra Pak’s Experience and Business Benefits 

Tetra Pak, known for its food and beverage packaging and equipment, faced the challenge of efficiently allocating service jobs and resources across their extensive customer base. The company’s manual, non-integrated planning approach resulted in suboptimal decisions, inefficient resource allocation, and consumed valuable back-office capacity. With the implementation of IFS PSO, Tetra Pak experienced a significant transformation and was one step further towards their move towards Servitization.  

Streamlining Engineer Allocation with IFS PSO 

IFS PSO’s planning and scheduling solution eliminates guesswork by intelligently assigning the most suitable engineer to each job. By leveraging algorithmic analysis and data stored in IFS Field Service Management, the system selects engineers based on factors such as machine type, fault type, and necessary skills. Continuous optimization, powered by Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, allows the system to improve decision-making algorithms based on outcomes and engineer performance. This ensures that the right skilled engineer, equipped with the appropriate parts, is assigned to each job at the right time. 

Enhancing Planned Preventative and Predictive Maintenance 

IFS PSO supports planned preventative and predictive maintenance by allocating the most suitable resources based on required skills and considering other ongoing activities. This reduces the risk of failed first-time fix service events and improves the overall customer experience. Additionally, the system’s dynamic scheduling engine can suggest when a reactive break-fix callout can also fulfill an imminent scheduled preventive maintenance appointment nearby, optimizing resource utilization. 

Efficient Spare Part Planning and Logistics 

In field service, it’s crucial to synchronize engineer visits with the availability of spare parts. Tetra Pak’s integrated solution ensures that PSO does not assign an engineer before the estimated time of arrival (ETA) for the required spare parts on-site. By integrating their FMS solution with the supply chain platform, Tetra Pak accesses all the necessary data, effectively combining material resource planning with human resource planning. This integration eliminates wasted visits and simplifies complex logistics by aligning engineer schedules with the delivery of spare parts. 

Can PSO add value to your service operations?  

Planning and Scheduling Optimization (PSO) may be traditionally associated with high-volume field service scenarios, but its benefits extend to low-volume situations as well. Tetra Pak’s successful implementation of IFS PSO demonstrates that automating resource planning and scheduling can add significant value, even when engineers attend only a few customer sites each day. By leveraging PSO’s capabilities, businesses can streamline operations, enhance service delivery, optimize resource allocation, and improve customer satisfaction in low-volume field service scenarios. Embracing PSO as a powerful tool for planning and scheduling optimization can lead to substantial benefits for businesses across the field service management landscape. 

In both high and low-volume scenarios, IFS offers a Business Value Assessment to clearly quantify the expected benefits from the planning and scheduling solution. Request a Proof of Value here to see what impact IFS could have on your business.  

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