Route Optimization

Expert Advice: Adjusting Service Schedules During COVID-19

April 7, 2020 | By Terry Hovis

Expert Advice: Adjusting Service Schedules During COVID-19

As companies have dramatically shifted to a remote work policy and schools are being temporarily closed, USA Technologies has received a number of requests to share best practices on how to continue to optimize service schedules. On March 20th we held a live webinar for people looking to learn these insights and best practices directly from our industry experts, below is a recap of the top 4 takeaways you can leverage to run an efficient operation during this time.

QUICKLY REDUCING PAR LEVELS: When you are managing a ton of machines and want to execute a reduction in par levels across multiple locations as quickly as possible, here are some quick tips:

  1. Start in reports, Spotlight Reports for Seed users, and view in your catalog a report called: Change Par Report – Line of Business 2020
  2. Click on the report to view two filter options: A) Customer Name B) Line of Business
  3. Export the list to excel once you have selected the location you want to adjust, keep in mind you can select every machine at that location to adjust if needed.
  4. IMPORTANT: Save a copy before making any edits so you can import this file again when businesses get back to normal. Tip: label it the location name_Old Par Level
  5. If you are looking to just adjust by cutting the pars in half go to the PAR column and just edit the numbers as you see fit.
  6. IMPORTANT: Save the document again with a similar naming convention, but label it “New Par Level”.
  7. Go back into Planograms under Setup, find Import/Export Coils, browse files, and find your new file.
  8. Click Import, and that location is done.

USING EXCEPTION PERIODS: Whether a location has closed temporarily, or you need to adjust forecast amounts, exception periods can help you do that for a given location or a given set of machines at an individual location, here are some quick tips:

  1. Find the location you want to adjust, use the search bar at the top or go to the machine list to find it.
  2. Under Location Detail you will see Exception Period
  3. Set a timeframe for the adjustment, maybe the location is closed for 2 weeks, or maybe it has a reduced workforce until April 30th.
  4. Under Forecast you have a variety of options, here are some examples of use cases:
    a. Location Closing: It will automatically remove from your schedule this location and then post the exception period date, it will return back into your schedules.
    b. 50% Normal Sales Volume: If the location is cutting back employees, and you want to identify that you don’t want additional product for the machine or simply just reduce it down.
    c. Only Certain Machines are Impacted: If some parts of a building are closed while the warehouse is still operating at capacity then you can go into an individual asset on your Edit Schedule Settings and tell it for certain machines to “ignore exception periods.”
  5. IMPORTANT: An exception period is not always an immediate change. If it is just identifying if the location is closed or open, then that will update right away. If it is a decrease in forecast, then that won’t update until the evening so just notate this for pre-picks if you are pulling them the same day you made the adjustment.

FLEX-SCHEDULING FOR MERGING ENTIRE ROUTES: If you are short-handed, running a leaner workforce, or employees are missing work, you will want to explore the use of flex-scheduling to support the locations that are still open. Using tools like Flex-Scheduling will help you know exactly how many drivers need to come into work and how many routes you need to run, here are some quick tips:

  1. In Easier Scheduling, if you normally have 3-4 routes you run in a day, you can create what’s called a Merge Schedule to Route 1, as an example. This will enable you to Merge Routes together into one single route.
  2. Once you select Merge, you will have the ability to edit the schedule with all the machines now located on Route 1. The view will show you what route it was originally from and its sub-route.
  3. It’s important to note, it will only move them for this one particular schedule you are generating and will not save for future schedules.

FLEX-SCHEDULING FOR MERGING SUB-ROUTES OR LOCATIONS: Let’s say you have scheduled two Routes, per normal, and you notice that one route has a number of locations closed (since you already edited the exception periods), so you may want to move it by asset or sub-route.

  1. Create a schedule for Route 1 and Route 2, per normal process.
  2. Use Service Assets on Another Route, move from Route 2 (in this example) to Route 1.
  3. You have the flexibility to move in a variety of ways: assets, locations, sub-routes or entire routes.  

DID YOU KNOW? If you move the schedule from one route to another, the driver will see all of his machines on his route for that given day inside of Seed Mobile. This will ensure that he only has to login to his route to access those machines.   

EXPERT ADVICE: The adjustments you make today are fast and sometimes require little time to think through the decision, so be sure to document any changes you make. Create a folder, save files of existing machine par levels, etc. Eventually you will be working to get back to normal schedules for companies who are temporarily closed, so be sure to document these changes so you can easily adjust when the time is right for your machines.

Author

Terry Hovis

Director of Implementation

With more than 30 years serving the vending industry, Terry has had experience working at a vending operation from the ground up and implementing technology to improve business processes. Today, he gets to use that experience to help customers overcome the fear and challenges of technology, so they can ultimately live an easier life with software.

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