Whether you’re an allocator, dispatcher, fleet or HR manager, or otherwise — if you’re involved in the field of depot operations, we know just how complicated and challenging your day-to-day tasks can be.
The frustrations you’re faced with on a regular basis could range from difficulties in managing your driver and vehicle databases, to drivers not showing up for their shifts on-time, to ensuring that payroll and timekeeping are accurate for hundreds of drivers — and everything in between.
Yet in order to ensure that your routes run as smoothly and reliably as possible, you need an internal operations system that supports you in resolving all these day-to-day obstacles.
While there’s no perfect, one-size-fits-all solution for this, if you’re looking to increase operational efficiency across your organization, there are some must-have factors that your operational system should provide you with.
With the right depot operations software, coupled with the right processes and practices, you’ll not only eliminate last-minute chaos — you’ll also be able to save time, costs, and hassle, and provide a stellar experience for your drivers and passengers.
Without further ado, here are five critical capabilities of a modern depot operation.
1. Have the right data at your fingertips
In order to better understand what’s really happening with your fleet, drivers, and passengers out in the field (and at the depot), you need ample access to a multitude of data, which can come in several shapes and forms.
On the one hand, you’ll need frequent access to your in-depth driver and vehicle records — including the technical specifications of your vehicles, as well as your drivers’ contact details, and information on their licensing, union membership, route preferences, scheduled events, and more.
Ideally, you’ll want to utilize a platform that can store all of this vital data in one centralized database. This way, you can easily search and filter through everything in one place, to find the information you need with minimal effort and make any changes and/or updates right away.
By the same token, you’ll also need the ability to analyze and export a high volume of data and reports — on KPIs like costs, performance, and otherwise — and share these reports with key stakeholders across your organization.
If you’re looking for a solution to help you mitigate and unify all of your driver and vehicle data, we highly recommend you check out our brand-new Operations product.
With detailed driver and vehicle management databases, you can easily access, manage, and analyze all the essential information you need — and seamlessly integrate your data with all the other systems you use, including CAD/AVL data, your HR and fleet management systems, and your entire operational database.
Our Operations product also makes it easy for you to analyze and export detailed reports to share with stakeholders across your organization — on cost analysis, exceptions, events, and savings — with custom rules and formulas to calculate stats, codes, and even preferences for different workflows (e.g. global holidays for driver groups).
With easy, direct access to the right data, your organization will gain much-needed visibility and insight, which can be leveraged to improve performance, lower costs, and increase driver and passenger satisfaction.
2. Real-time allocation and validations
Your operations happen out in the field, in real time — and when last-minute changes or problems occur, you need to act fast.
Whether you’re trying to track the status and location of your drivers and vehicles on the fly, understand which shifts are covered vs not, or attempting to ensure that each driver is fully capable of working their assigned shift — attempting to do all of this manually is not only incredibly cumbersome, it’s virtually impossible.
You need operational software that enables you to view all of this information at once, so you can think ahead and make proactive changes right away. At the same time, it should provide you with the reassurance and peace of mind to know that your changes are fully compliant with any rules and regulations.
Fortunately, our Operations product enables you to do exactly this. You can instantly view all of your drivers for each given day, sorted by start time, and get real-time notifications regarding any problems or delays.
It also enables you to easily swap or assign missing drivers, and make sure they’re the most suitable for each shift, with automatic validations and suggestions based on cost, availability, and your selected rules and preferences (e.g. based on union regulations or your organization’s needs).
This way, you can resolve any issues before they happen, right away, while guaranteeing full compliance with the custom rules you set — all in one convenient, centralized system.
3. Dynamic payroll and timekeeping
Keeping track of working hours and compensation for hundreds, if not thousands of drivers is a highly convoluted process — and attempting to do all of this manually is extremely difficult.
Not only is it time consuming and labor intensive, but also, when managing such a vast volume of payroll data, mistakes are bound to happen.
With many systems today, trying to correct even the smallest change or mishap — like a driver being over- or under-compensated by a mere 30 minutes — resulting in a great deal of wasted time, effort, and red tape (as well as significant payroll delays for your drivers).
To ensure that your organization is operating at the utmost efficiency, you need a payroll system that keeps track of drivers’ hours in real time — while offering the flexibility to make manual changes and adjustments right away.
This is where Optibus Operations offers an ideal solution. Our dynamic, fully flexible payroll system can handle even the most complex payroll scenarios across your entire driver database — and it can even calculate future predicted work for upcoming weeks.
It automatically reflects drivers’ attendance in real time, while granting you the ability to make manual changes right away.
All of this helps you reduce risk of error and ensure payroll accuracy, so you'll minimize effort and hassle, while increasing efficiency and driver and union satisfaction.
4. The ability to plan aheadWe know that a huge portion of your day-to-day operations happen on the fly — but it doesn’t have to be that way.
What if, instead, you had the ability to plan for the long-term, by building out every aspect of your rosters in advance, all in a matter of seconds?
With our Operations product, you can do exactly this. Planning upcoming work weeks becomes an effortless process when you can instantly import your optimized rosters, assign drivers to roster lines (with validations and recommendations based on the rules you set), and then deploy these plans directly to the calendar.
You can even add rules for drivers that can’t work at certain times, and our algorithm will factor that in. Plus, our flexible payroll system (as noted above) can calculate predicted costs for your future planned work, so you can anticipate your upcoming costs.
By planning more of your operations in advance, your organization will spend less time putting out last-minute fires, and more time focused on making data-driven decisions and proactively planning for what’s ahead.
5. Support your drivers’ individual needs and preferencesLast, but certainly not least, in order for your operations to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible, you must place a greater emphasis on meeting the needs and preferences of your unsung heroes: your drivers.
Right now, many organizations are facing a driver shortage — a growing problem worldwide that leads to poor experiences on all sides.
Drivers are suffering greater pressure and longer hours to make up for a lack of resources, leading to burnout and absenteeism. This results in passengers facing longer wait times and crowded buses, resulting in a poor passenger experience and a loss of ridership. One reinforces the other in a continuous, self-perpetuating cycle.
Regardless of whether or not you’re facing a shortage, your drivers are an irreplaceable component of your organization and its overall performance — and as such, you must be sure to adhere to their input and preferences.
Without happy, satisfied drivers, there’s no way that your operations will ever run smoothly. So, how can you be sure to meet your drivers’ needs?
A great place to start is by asking for their direct input on preferred routes, shifts, and break types, as well as their favored method of communication, vacation needs, and otherwise — then incorporating this information to build schedules and rosters to increase satisfaction, and foster a better work-life balance.
Optibus’ cloud-native Scheduling and Rostering products support you in quickly creating custom rosters that reflect your drivers’ needs and preferences — and now, with our Operations product, you can take this a step further.
You can build out rosters that factor in the shift preferences, vacation days, and more for each individual driver, as well as for different driver groups.
Furthermore, with our simple, user-friendly Driver Platform, you can easily interact and engage with drivers directly via their mobile devices from anywhere, anytime.
Though these are just a few examples, when it comes to meeting drivers’ needs and preferences, there are many other factors to be considered.
To learn more on this topic, we welcome you to download our latest eBook, Tackling the Driver Shortage, which is full of tips and best practices to help you increase driver happiness and retention over time. Prefer to watch a video? Check out our webinar replay, where we discuss this subject in detail.
Optibus Operations: Helping solve your greatest depot allocation challenges
We hope that the above information proved to be helpful and informative for you. Here at Optibus, we know just how challenging modern depot operations can be — and that’s exactly why we created our brand-new product: Optibus Operations.
After extensive research and testing from customers around the world, Optibus Operations has been built from the ground up, and is tailor made to solve your greatest challenges. It’s one holistic, future-proof solution that’s reshaping the industry, and constantly advancing to support all your operational needs today, as well as those on the road ahead.
With our cloud-native infrastructure and advanced AI and optimization algorithms, along with the flexibility to accommodate all your custom rules, payroll formulas, allocation flow changes, and much more, Optibus Operations empowers you to make fast, data-driven decisions like never before, without the need for any technical support.
Ultimately, all of this translates to your organization eliminating last-minute changes and chaos, saving significant time and costs, and increasing overall efficiency and satisfaction among your drivers and passengers.
Optibus Operations will be available for Operators across the globe in the near future — so stay tuned for more updates.
Want to learn more about this new product? We welcome you to register for our upcoming webinar, How to Streamline and Future-Proof Your Public Transportation Operations, happening June 28th at 16:00 BST for an in-depth tour of what's possible with the product, along with live Q&A.
Can't make it? No problem — sign up anyway and we'll send you a copy of the recording.