Predictive Maintenance & Your Assets’ Lifecycle
One of your biggest costs is fleet and asset maintenance. Fortunately, you can now identify failures before they happen and accurately predict when maintenance is needed.Read More
By Michael Zink June 19, 2017 Reading time:
One of your biggest costs is fleet and asset maintenance. Fortunately, you can now identify failures before they happen and accurately predict when maintenance is needed.
Predictive maintenance is not a new concept. Other industries and organisations, such as commercial airlines and armed forces, have seen great success with it:
Predictive maintenance is essentially about prevention rather than cure. At a basic level, it is performed by analysing the data obtained through asset components and planning maintenance activity proactively instead of reactively.
Predictive maintenance has several advantages over reactive or schedule-based maintenance.
Firstly, it significantly decreases your organisation’s chances of having a breakdown in the middle of a service and causing commuter frustration, timetable disruption and negative media attention. (We’ve all seen angry tweets and Facebook posts from stranded passengers.) Don’t wait until something breaks before you fix it – keep it in good shape so it doesn’t break or replace it before it does.
You will also be able to increase the mean time between failures on your assets. Your system should have pattern recognition and machine learning algorithms to process and analyse the data reported by your assets’ telematics units. This can then be used to anticipate when maintenance is due to proactively keep components in a state of good repair, making failures rarer.
Predictive maintenance is also less time-consuming for staff, which saves your organisation money. With reactive or schedule-based maintenance, a large part of maintenance costs stems from the need for employees to manually inspect assets and find the cause of breakdown or failure – a time-consuming process. Predictive maintenance reduces this inefficiency.
Last but not least, predictive maintenance helps to decrease workplace accidents. Similar to industries such as oil and gas, when public transport assets break down they pose a risk to your staff. A predictive maintenance approach means you’re keeping equipment in good condition and thereby preventing accidents caused by asset failure.
Not only will you provide a safer workplace for your staff and a better service for your passengers, you will also end up saving costs in several ways.
Predictive maintenance helps you use your maintenance workforce more efficiently, reduces the frequency of asset failure and increases your assets’ useful life by keeping them in a state of good repair.
If your current solution is not meeting your needs and helping you perform predictive maintenance, you may be interested in reviewing our Enterprise Asset Management system.
By Michael Zink June 12, 2017 Reading time:
Do you want to modernise your business and give your passengers a satisfying experience, but find it difficult to make change happen because your technology is holding you back?
The rapid technological evolution in vehicles, software, hardware and components has drastically increased our capacity to collect not just more data, but more kinds of data.
However, this data is often trapped in individual systems that cannot integrate. If you have not kept your technology up to date, the price your organisation pays is the opportunity cost of realising this data’s potential.
Simply put, legacy systems will do nothing but maintain your status quo until something breaks irreparably or becomes so outdated that it cannot work in a contemporary IT environment. Your old technology may get the job done for now, but it won’t help you keep up with competitors or commuter expectations.
Using modern, integrated hardware and software systems to collect, share and analyse data offers a great deal of value and a competitive edge to your organisation.
Some of the possibilities that a solid technological platform opens to you are:
With the pace of technological advancements ever increasing, it is no longer a question of what you stand to gain from modernising: it’s what you stand to lose if you don’t.
While a complete overhaul of all systems and equipment simultaneously is certainly not realistic, incremental improvements and gradual modernisation is the key to keeping your organisation up to date.
Choosing a modular software that allows you to implement it gradually across your business will help smoothen the process of change and build organisational learning to ensure each implementation goes smoother than the last. Finding a vendor who has experience with large-scale rollouts and working closely with transport operators to train their staff will also help ensure success.
If you are going through a period of rapid capital expansion or growth and need to invest in new technology to remain sustainable, be sure to read these three tips.
By trapezegroup June 04, 2017 Reading time:
Developing all the skills to build, manage and support every facet of your IT needs in-house is not realistic – or necessary. Read on to find out why.
Trying to do it all yourself is just too expensive and time-consuming. But walled gardens are not the way to go either. That option inevitably leads to a crippling lack of connectivity and data integration – both of which are vital today.
Whatever industry you look at, the consensus is that ideal enterprise solutions are easy to deploy, use and start getting value from. For advanced solutions, such as analytics and business intelligence tools, industry expertise can add significant value – especially when a quick win is needed.
In the public transport industry, for example, would you want to rely on a partner that has no idea what data you need for compliance reports? Before you answer, remember: non-compliance will get you fined, your vehicles pulled off the tracks and your company in a heap of legal trouble.
With these things in mind, here are five questions that you should ask technology vendors before signing that contract:
The ideal technology solution shows up to work on Day 1 knowing everything about your business and immediately starts adding value. Solutions that are not purpose-built for your industry need you to take time out to “teach” them about industry regulation, contract KPIs, OTP and so on. This adds complexity and stress to any deployment – most of which will land on your own employees – and ultimately limits the value for your organisation. In short, industry expertise matters when choosing your supplier.
In theory, many different solutions could support your needs. In practice, how many of them will do so successfully? Ask your potential provider to provide detailed case studies and client references that prove their solution works for public transport operators. For example, if your objective is to use a solution with predictive analytics to decrease the mean time between failures on rolling stock, make sure the vendor you select has been there and done that.
‘Bolt-on’ solutions may address a wide market, but add little depth of vision for public transport operators.
Ask potential technology suppliers, “What do your existing long-term partner relationships look like?” Long-term business relationships in the technology field are indicative of an organisation that has an ongoing commitment to developing new solutions with you – not just completing transactions.
Done right, technology should help take your organisation to the next level with minimum pain and maximum gain. This is difficult to do if you end up spending weeks or months setting up parameters, integrating data and testing, which is usually the case if you attempt to customise a generic solution.
Intelligent tools purpose-built to work with data from your EAM, ITS and financial systems can deliver value to your business right away. The impact is even greater when those tools make it easy for users to customise the way they see and interact with data.
Public transport enterprise systems are complex. If there is a technical error or something you don’t understand, what are you going to do? A service level agreement will cover the basics, but who is actually going to help your team get up to speed with using the solution in live environments, when money and safety are on the line?
If you are exploring your options and thinking about changing solutions, contact us to discuss your needs and objectives.
By Michael Zink May 30, 2017 Reading time:
Public transport expansion is on a roll. The industry is under increasing pressure to be more innovative in infrastructure lifecycle management.
Public transport expansion is on a roll.
Delivery on major projects like Queensland’s Cross River Rail and Victoria’s Metro Tunnel has begun, while new rail projects are getting the green light.
Take light rail’s Australian renaissance for example: besides the new G:link (Gold Coast, Queensland) and the long-running Yarra Trams (Melbourne, Victoria), there are also projects in Canberra and New South Wales in Sydney, Parramatta and Newcastle. In Asia, light rail, metro systems and intercity trains are all on track for construction or underway.
Each of these capital expansion projects entails the management of thousands of physical assets, all of which need to be purchased, maintained and replaced over their lifetime.
With the scrutiny that billion-dollar investments inevitably draws, public transport organisations are under increasing pressure to become more innovative in how they approach the lifecycle management of their infrastructure.
In order to measure asset performance and prioritise capital projects across all modes of transport, you need an enterprise solution built for public transport.
At the bare minimum, your system must be able to easily track each asset associated with your expansion projects. Leading transport operators also recognise that it should offer off-the-shelf features for integration with other key back office and operational systems. Otherwise, you are looking at an expensive, complex integration process and a lifetime of custom software patches.
With that in mind, here are a few things to consider when assessing Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system requirements during a period of rapid capital expansion:
Every mode of service you provide – light rail, bus, train, ferry – has distinct EAM requirements. Performing accurate asset lifecycle management for even one asset class is complex, let alone a fast-expanding, multimodal operation.
However, this challenge can be addressed with innovative, integrated technology solutions. The possibilities for the future are endless with integrated business intelligence from all modes of transport.
Side note: An EAM software that does not connect and visualise all your data in a way that makes it understandable and usable is likely to be poorly-utilised by your staff. So while it may be tempting to choose a system based on price, remember that you can pay in other ways besides money in the long run.
For a transport authority or rail operator with a large infrastructure footprint, it is simply not feasible to track thousands of capital assets in a spreadsheet. But diving into the first generic solution that comes along is not the wisest move either.
Software vendors who provide generic EAM solutions tend to think asset management is a ‘strategic’ exercise that you conduct once or twice a year using oversimplified reports. Real asset management requires analysing and comparing the performance of every class of asset on an ongoing basis so you can make more informed rehabilitation and replacement decisions throughout the year.
This proactive type of approach is essential for large organisations in particular, both so that you can prioritise capital projects and for the implementation of a leading lifecycle asset management strategy for the future.
Public transport expansion projects are under the microscope from the moment you announce them. With awareness comes scrutiny and with public money comes urgency. Quick wins on big capital projects help to keep investors and the public aware of what is happening and demonstrate your progress towards long-term project goals.
Are you looking to improve your asset management capabilities with a new system? Make sure you ask these five questions before you make your choice.
By trapezegroup May 17, 2017 Reading time:
How to back up your instinctive choices with facts and make evidence-based decisions.
While price, endorsements and personal experience are all important factors to take into consideration while making decisions, they are not always reliable indicators.
However, what if you knew the cost to run each type of bus, right down to daily fuel consumption and average cost for repairs throughout its lifespan? What if you knew which buses were the most prone to accidents due to large blind spots?
You’d have facts, figures and statistics to back up your intuition, sort the biased opinions from the fair and recognise good value pricing. This would give you a solid foundation from which you can make better decisions for your business.
Evidence-based decision-making doesn’t have to be an unachievable goal. It’s not impossible to find all of the information you need to accomplish this.
Chances are, you’re already gathering this data somewhere – in your accounts ledgers, workshop books, operations software and so on. All you need to do is pull it together in a useable way. Here’s some simple steps on how you can get started:
People often get excited about installing new technology before they’ve thought about what they want that technology to do for them. Don’t fall into the trap of looking at features first, objectives last.
You need to work out what objectives you want to achieve through the use of business intelligence (BI) first. This will help you figure out what kind of insights you seek to produce, and from there you can map out what data you need to collect, how often you need to collect it and how you will record it.
Only once this process is complete and you have fully scoped out your needs, should you start looking at which software or system to purchase.
Business intelligence is more than just an IT thing; it needs to be part of your company culture. Everyone from ops to workshop to finance to leadership needs to commit to business intelligence to make it work.
To derive the full value of a BI program, your whole company needs to be involved in the discussion about business intelligence and buy in to the concept: not just to use your BI software, but to feed it data on a consistent, ongoing basis.
If you are not able to lead the project of incorporating BI into your organisation yourself, it is tempting to ask your most technical employee to take the reins and get it done. However, the Harvard Business Review actually recommends that you look beyond the IT department and choose a person with these qualities:
You may find some dissenting voices in your organisation once you start involving more people in your BI project. Some people may feel threatened by the implementation of BI, while others might regard it as just more work for them.
You can neutralise these assumptions by stressing that a BI tool is not going to replace anybody; it is actually going to empower everyone in your company with information. A BI tool, correctly implemented, will:
During the process of working out your business objectives, you will find opportunities that extend beyond a single department or challenges affecting several areas of your business which can be solved through the use of BI. Demonstrate the value that each person will experience to overcome objections from employees.
Once you’ve done all the hard work of determining your business objectives, figuring out what data you need to collect and getting buy-in from key stakeholders in your organisation, it’s time to look at the tool you’re going to use to facilitate your company’s journey from data-swamped to insight-rich.
If your company is small enough, you may find that several linked Excel spreadsheets will do the trick. If you already have an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system or operational database, these systems might have some basic BI or reporting functions that you can use to get by.
However, if you have more complex requirements or specific goals that you want to achieve which are unique to the bus industry, you will be better off using a configurable BI tool that has been created for bus operators and which integrates with your existing systems. This will be more cost-effective than purchasing a generic BI tool, which requires customisation by expensive consultants or contractors.
Whichever way you choose to go, it is essential that all your data is stored (or at least accessible) in one place so that any business intelligence generated shows you a complete picture of your entire organisation. Having data trapped in numerous systems will only result in your analytics program being difficult to use and keep up to date once the initial excitement wears off, rendering it useless after a while.
The key to success with BI is a clear vision, commitment from your whole company and consistent persistence. If you can weather the short-term pain of culture change and new processes, you will reap the long-term benefits of becoming a data-driven organisation and gain an edge over your competitors.
Article written by Trapeze; Originally published in QBIC News, issue June 2017.
By trapezegroup March 06, 2017 Reading time:
Growth is great. But your business needs to be scalable as well. Learn how Sapphire Coast Buslines optimised their business for growth and success.
Growth is great.
You may be feeling like bigger is better when it comes to competing for contracts, or you could be thinking about the economies of scale that come with an increase in size. Or perhaps your company has just grown organically over time as you pick up more services and you’ve doubled your staff headcount from what you started out with.
So why is scalability something that you should be thinking about?
When they say necessity is the mother of invention, they weren’t kidding. Small companies have a genius for finding ways to get things done and keep operations running despite a lack of resources or funds. However, as your company grows, many of the workaround measures and manual practices that used to be manageable as a small business become unsustainable with time. The processes that used to save you money will start to cost you time and efficiency.
If you take a step back from day-to-day operations and think critically of the way your staff does things, are they doing in a time-consuming way for no reason other than “we’ve always done it this way”?
Is there any admin task that requires a disproportionately large number of people handling it before it can be completed?
Are you seeing errors caused by a dependency on repeated data entry by different people into different systems?
And most importantly, is there any process that is bearable right now in terms of difficulty and time to perform but which is going to be unmanageable if you add on more buses, drivers or services?
If any of the above apply to you, you need to consider making a change sooner rather than later to make your company more scalable.
Sapphire Coast Buslines (SCB), formerly known as Deane’s Buslines South Coast, is a family-owned bus operator in New South Wales. Like most small businesses, SCB was reliant on manual processes and kept paper records. This state of affairs was tolerable at first, but as the company grew it became clear that they were reaching a crisis point.
“Because everything was done manually, we would miss charters, miss shift and bus changeovers, miss things on the road or forget about staff leave requests,” said SCB Managing Director Jamie Klemm (pictured), a second-generation bus industry veteran.
“We were just hanging in there at the size that we were. We knew that if we wanted to get any bigger, we needed to change the system. It wasn’t sustainable.”
If you’ve spotted some inefficiencies or found an unsustainable practice within your company, you will need to study the process and work out where things are falling over. Once you have worked out the source of the problem, finding the right solution will become much easier.
For Jamie and SCB, it was clear that the ability to share information between departments without doubling up or creating extra work was critical for the company’s continued growth. The huge amount of time staff members needed to complete tasks and the process failures caused by manual systems led her to decide an integrated Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system that could automate processes and streamline record-keeping was the right solution for SCB.
“As soon as I did the financial case study of what we would gain with an integrated operations management system, it was a no-brainer,” said Jamie.
“If you’re doing things manually, your data entry is just way too hard. Your error rates will be so much higher than you realise it is – you won’t even know half the errors you’re making.
“If you’ve got an integrated system, it will cut all of that down and give you time to work on your business instead of in your business.”
SCB began experiencing the benefits of using Trapeze’s bus-specific ERP system almost immediately after it was installed. Jamie said,
“The biggest win was knowing that our data was more accurate. We were able to meet our KPIs more efficiently, avoid fines and save costs with Trapeze.”
Thanks to the scalable nature of Trapeze’s ERP solution, SCB has grown its fleet by 50% without incurring significant administration overheads. The company also saved $30,000 a year in administrative costs following the solution’s implementation.
To find out how Sapphire Coast Buslines grew by 50% without incurring significant administrative costs, read the full case study.
Article written by Trapeze; Originally published in QBIC News, issue March 2017.
By trapezegroup January 25, 2017 Reading time:
As a bus operator, there are two ways to manage your biggest expense after labour and capital costs. I’m talking about fuel and particularly diesel. How do you make sure you aren’t missing out on making savings?
Convention tells us there are two tried and tested ways to save on fuel:
But is it?
How do you know that the fuel price you are charged is in line with oil price movements, fluctuations in foreign exchange rates, changes in shipping costs and all the other variables that affect fuel pricing?
How do you know that the fuel company is not sneaking unjustified margin that can be hidden behind all these variables, or that they haven’t made mistake?
In my time in the bus industry, I have seen mistakes and unjustified movements in fuel pricing that would have cost hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of dollars over time if they had not been picked up and corrected.
Here is a scenario to consider:
You have a fleet of 500 buses running 60,000km a year each using around 40 litres of diesel per 100km. This would mean that you need around 12 million litres of diesel. If you went to market, you would get a good fuel price if you contract with a fuel company.
However, if one cent was applied to your price outside of market forces this would mean that you’re paying $120,000 per year more for your fuel.
It is very difficult to pick these price changes up given the complexity of fuel pricing – and don’t forget, fuel companies are experts in their business.
There is a way to be certain you maintain the good pricing advantage that you negotiated at the start, and that it only moves in line with market movements in oil price and currency movements.
There is a formula called the Fuel Price Escalator that uses the price of oil and your local currency as inputs to calculate what the fuel price should be at any given point. Ask your fuel supplier to include this in any contract that you have with them. Make sure you monitor this to ensure you are being charged correct pricing without unjustified charges.
Monitoring can be difficult for a bus operator, as the oil price used in diesel fuel pricing is not what’s reported on the nightly news bulletins (at least not in Australia). Getting access to the daily oil pricing can also be expensive.
Nevertheless, there are consultancies who provide price-monitoring services for a fee. This fee is modest given what you pay for fuel every year and the difference pricing errors make to your business. They will generally review all your fuel invoices to ensure they line up with your agreement with the fuel company and that any movements are in line with the agreed Fuel Price Escalator.
By trapezegroup December 20, 2016 Reading time:
With 2016 drawing to a close, now is a good time to reflect on your goals for the future and where you want to take your company in 2017.
If consolidation, cost management, bidding for contracts or all of the above are on your mind as things you want to do (or do better), why not take some inspiration from a bus company’s that’s done all three successfully in the south?
Ventura Bus Lines is the largest bus operator in Victoria and Public Transport Victoria’s most reliable bus service provider in the state. They are also the preferred supplier of numerous Melbourne schools, Metro Trains and Yarra Trams.
Having expanded from a one-bus operation into the largest family-owned bus company in Australia, Ventura operates extensive fixed route and charter services including 131 public transport routes, school charters, rail or tram replacement services and group tour transportation.
We can all relate to increasing pressure to be better, faster and more cost-effective in the face of fierce competition for government contracts. Not only do you need to provide the most competitive solution in the market, you’ve also got to make sure that the services you’re promising to deliver are actually profitable for your business to run – and do all of this quickly.
Ventura’s Managing Director, Andrew Cornwall, is a third-generation leader in the bus industry and he foresaw that the company needed to change in order to keep its place at the top of the market. The business needed to get more done while using fewer resources and reduce inefficiencies in every area possible.
“We needed to run leaner, become more efficient and find new ways of increasing revenue and adding value to our clients,” Andrew said. “We needed to get creative about how we were going to keep growing the business and stay ahead of the competition.”
The first step to achieving Ventura’s goals of becoming more efficient was to optimise the business. The bulk of this was in network planning, where Ventura hoped to save costs by reducing dead running, optimising driver shifts and reducing fuel and maintenance costs by straightening out routes.
Manually planning a network in today’s environment is complex, time-consuming and extremely limited. Ventura chose Trapeze Group’s Planning & Scheduling solution for its superior optimisation capabilities and ability to incorporate a large number of complex parameters and conditions into its calculations, such as industry award rates, union agreements, enterprise bargaining agreements, government health and safety regulations and company policies.
“With the Trapeze Planning & Scheduling solution, the rules and regulations are written into the system,” explained Steve O’Callaghan, Ventura’s General Manager Network Planning. This has completely eliminated human error in many areas of the planning process, saving time and money and allowing Ventura to respond faster to requests for tender.
The software’s reporting capabilities also gave Ventura more visibility on how the business was tracking and where deficiencies were. The Network Planning department was able to analyse whether there was too much dead running or idle time and take steps to rectify the situation, allowing Ventura to save on fuel and maintenance.
The optimisation process at Ventura is ongoing, with the Trapeze Planning & Scheduling software used to create what-if scenarios and forecast the costs and benefits of various ways to carry out a service.
“You could never do something like that manually, it’s hard mathematically to bring everything together,” said Steve. “The algorithms in the system allow you to cut to the chase extremely quickly and start optimising whatever it is you want to optimise: buses, drivers, kilometres.”
Like many other bus companies, Ventura underwent consolidation after merging with several other operators. This left them with multiple legacy systems and record-keeping methods that were slowing down staff and introducing costly inefficiencies across the business because information was disjointed or disconnected.
To get the whole company onto one system, Ventura chose Trapeze Group’s bus-specific Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system because it enabled integration across all departments, like Operations, Charter, Workshop, Fleet, Payroll and Finance. As a bonus, it also integrated with the Trapeze Planning & Scheduling system for a true whole-of-company system.
As a result, Ventura was able to employ the COUNT (Collect Once Use Numerous Times) principle, which reduced data entry, eliminated tedious tasks for transferring data and minimised human error. Processes are streamlined, productivity is increased and duplicate systems were retired.
“The data is much more dependable because everyone lives in the Trapeze ERP system now,” said Omar Najmeddine, General Manager Rail / Business Systems (pictured). “We can now pull out reports and be really sure that the information is accurate.”
“Collecting all that data has helped us understand and optimise the business as we grow and go forward.”
Ventura’s experienced staff have found numerous other ways to creatively use the technology at their disposal to benefit the business. Among their achievements are reducing driver turnover, finding new sources of revenue and improving staff’s ability to manage charter customers.
To learn more about Ventura’s innovations to be more competitive, read the full case study.
Article written by Trapeze; Originally published in QBIC News, issue December 2016.
By trapezegroup April 18, 2016 Reading time:
Did you know that in the UK almost half of new drivers leave within their first 12 weeks of employment?
The impact of this startling – and frightening – statistic becomes even more worrying when you consider that it costs around £3,500 to recruit and train each driver. Just stop for a second to calculate what this means to your organisation.
Not only does this represent a huge, immediate financial impact, it also reduces the level of service you can provide passengers – since as we well know, perception of poor service is one of the main reasons people don’t use buses.
So poor driver retention is simultaneously adding cost to the business while eroding revenues achieved through ridership.
It’s an issue with huge implications. And it simply can’t continue.
During my time working as a bus depot manager, I understood that each new driver came with a cost to account for recruitment, training, uniform, equipment and associated administrative resources, including training materials and manuals, as well as the cost of running large training facilities and buildings.
For example’s sake, let’s take a standard intake of around 130 trainee drivers and multiply it by £3,500. The overall cost is therefore £455,000. Now if these drivers then stay with the business and deliver great quality service to passengers for the next five to 10 years, it was probably a wise investment.
However, we know that statistically speaking, 65 of these new drivers will leave after 12 weeks. So for each intake of new drivers, operators are losing around £227,500.
If the figure above isn’t already scaring you, consider that it’s probably a conservative estimate. The Emerald Insight study notes that one leading UK bus operator was losing over £1 million per year due to inefficient driver retention strategies.
Indeed, the paper also notes that a 30% driver turnover across a bus division with 20,000 drivers can result in an annual recruitment need of around 6,000 drivers. That’s around £21 million per year.
Even if your turnover is lower – around 10%, say – the cost is still frightening: in a division of 10,000 drivers, a 10% turnover is a cost of £3.5 million each year.
Of course there are also other costs that may not show up on a spreadsheet, but which can nonetheless have a potentially catastrophic impact on the business as a whole.
Consider, for example, the impact on employee’s morale, as they watch drivers come and go through a seemingly endless revolving door. This isn’t simple conjecture: this detailed white paper explains that “higher staff turnover lowers morale of staff and heads of departments”.
Lower morale has implications for any business: employees become less productive and a cyclical pattern can evolve whereby those with low morale leave the business, and those who remain are despondent and more likely to follow their peers out of the door.
And when drivers leave they take valuable skills and knowledge that isn’t easily replaced. This UK Government report on skills shortages notes “high levels of skills deficiencies, in particular in the Transport and Communication industries”, with 64% of employers in the UK Transport sector reporting that new recruits were not well prepared compared to the all-sector average.
Because new drivers tend to perform less well than their experienced peers, the quality of service they are able to offer passengers can be diminished . This is understandable, since their focus is likely to be on safety and schedule adherence, with little room for customer service.
And as with so many customer-facing roles, many of the required skills are learned over time, or passed on by experienced staff who have been with the business a long time. If drivers are leaving the business, who is passing on this precious knowledge and experience?
So, what can we do to address this challenge before it’s too late?
Retaining staff is not dependent on any one factor. Of course, driver pay is important, but other factors are just as important – so true long-term loyalty from an employee cannot necessarily be bought.
This study from the US suggests that non-financial factors – including the work environment, service routes, ‘fair’ or ‘unfair’ scheduling and target expectations, interaction with managers, equipment conditions and company policies – can make or break driver retention efforts.
Indeed, the researchers identified six key factors as being crucial to promoting driver retention:
For long-term driver retention, overall job satisfaction depends more upon how drivers are treated than how well they are paid. So isn’t it time to really focus efforts on finding ways to make drivers’ lives more efficient, safe, stress-free – and ultimately happier?
Regularly providing feedback and rewarding drivers for good work needn’t be thought of as another administrative burden for bus depot managers, who may be concerned about how much time they have available to send emails and letters to their staff and organise meetings and interviews – in fact such communications can be easy to implement.
Technology solutions exist that can help administrative staff and managers see when drivers have performed well so they can let them know that the company is pleased with their performance. This can increase driver morale, and thereby reduce driver turnover rates.
As this article notes, “if people are communicated with in an effective manner they will be much more engaged with the company/team and have a more positive attitude toward their work.”
As an added bonus, these types of tools will also free up time for depot managers, enabling them to focus on other important areas of their jobs such as interacting with new drivers and personally overseeing how they are being inducted into the business. Managers can thereby evaluate how recruitment and training strategies are working, and more easily suggest corrective measures be taken where necessary.
Closely linked with communication is the way drivers interact with HR departments and processes.
It’s vital that bus operators ensure all their HR processes and procedures are run and managed effectively, so drivers are more likely to perceive an organisation’s working practices as being fair. Nothing undermines driver satisfaction levels quite like the suspicion of unfairness. In fact, the mere suspicion or perception of unfairness can undermine the trust between an organisation and its drivers, causing rifts and resentment.
Fortunately, there are technology solutions available to managers and HR departments that ensure any procedure that requires a policy and process (e.g. training schedules, qualifications, disciplines) is completely controlled. Nobody can dispute processes because they are all entirely transparent.
Transparency itself also plays a crucial role in driver retention, and as this article indicates, can also bring benefits in terms of company culture, employee engagement and productivity. In terms of employee retention the evidence is clear: the article notes that transparency “ensures a low staff turnover” – with 82% of employees saying it helps build a “sense of family” and 79% more likely to “love” the place they work if they feel processes are controlled and transparent.
Of course, a key part of minimising staff turnover in any business is ensuring employees don’t face stressful working lives. In the bus industry, drivers and managers alike can find certain processes, such as duty allocation and processing holiday requests, incredibly stressful. There can be a lot of bureaucracy and administration here which causes confusion, stress, and negatively impacts driver morale.
In the past, duty allocation has often led to drivers feeling distrustful of the processes that determine whether they are granted the holidays they ask for, or how shift-swaps are handled. Paper-based systems can see requests lost, eroding confidence in the system and the company itself. Furthermore, a lack of transparency – with processes carried out behind the counter, away from view – means drivers can start to feel out of the loop.
Fortunately, there are again technology solutions that can streamline processes here, reducing driver stress and confusion, and ensuring this critical transparency is achieved.
In bus companies – as with any business or organisation – open and transparent relationships are the foundation of trust and collaboration: two integral factors in making employees happier, more productive – and ultimately more loyal.
Using tools that make booking holiday requests and dealing with duty allocation easier means that employees’ working lives become much easier and more comfortable. Reduced stress and increased happiness in their roles are vital factors that will increase the likelihood of drivers remaining within the same bus company for many years.
Drivers are fundamental to the success of bus operations – and all too often undervalued by those around them.
Our drivers are responsible for ensuring safety, managing passenger disputes, retailing, information provision, delivery of customer service, ensuring buses are tidy and checking for lost property – and all while dealing with driving hazards, delays, meeting regulatory requirements and generating the revenue that keeps the industry going.
If we recognise the importance of drivers – and the cost of losing them – isn’t it time to focus our energies on finding more effective ways to keep them in the business?
Original article written by Pete Adney and published by Trapeze United Kingdom: http://www.trapezegroup.co.uk/article/cost-of-driver-attrition-what-to-do-about-it
Reference: “Induction process puts First UK Bus on route to greater efficiency”, Human Resource Management International Digest, Vol. 17 Iss 4 pp. 6 – 9 http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/09670730910963235
By trapezegroup September 04, 2015 Reading time:
With demand for passenger information ever increasing, it is crucial that providers of public transport are able to offer their customers information across a range of platforms.
With demand for passenger information ever increasing among the travelling public, it is crucial that providers of public transport are able to offer their customers effective, reliable and accurate information across a range of platforms. Yet with budgets ever decreasing, the challenge is to do so cost-effectively.
However, this needn’t seem daunting. In fact, we believe there is a bright future ahead for passenger information systems and the companies that use them. The following steps show how you could get there:
A critical step in ensuring the effective delivery of passenger information is to first establish a clear strategy for your organisation. This strategy will be unique to you, varying from organisation to organisation. Yet in developing your strategy, there are a number of broad factors here that will likely influence decision-making.
These factors include identifying your target audience (for example, the travelling public or third-party organisations), as well as deciding upon a budget that works for your organisation. We discuss these factors and others in a post here.
A clear strategy with business aims and objectives can greatly increase your ability to achieve your end goal.
There is no such thing as a ‘typical traveller’ who you can tailor your passenger information for. As a result, each of your passengers will have different information requirements of your organisation.
While there may be no such thing as an average traveller, there are clearly identifiable ‘types’ of bus users, who we can – to an extent – generalise about. For example, inexperienced travellers will likely make greater use of pre-planning systems and journey planning tools while experienced and confident commuters will likely have more intensive information requirements. Indeed, this latter group may expect information on disruptions and delays to be pushed out to them during their journey, keeping them in the loop in real-time. We discuss these users at greater length here.
By gaining a comprehensive understanding of who your passengers are and their information requirements, we are able to tailor our information solutions and services to the needs of passengers more effectively. So this means passengers are able to access the information that works for them!
When passengers have this choice, they are more likely to utilise your systems and services, and may also be more willing to sign up to your services – providing you with valuable passenger data.
There has been a clear and inexorable rise of ‘mobile’ over ‘desktop’ browsers in recent years – as we note in this detailed article. Because of this trend, it is perhaps clearer than ever before that, when it comes to passenger information, the emphasis will increasingly be on developing, using and delivering more intuitive user interfaces built on Responsive Web design principles so that users of any device have the same experience.
It is absolutely critical that you take this trend into account when building your passenger information solutions and services of the future. Long gone are the days where we could simply add ever more functionality to traditional desktop sites: the future is the mobile.
Because of this, we feel it is important to understand the competing benefits and drawbacks of both responsive mobile websites and smartphone apps. It is likely both will form crucial parts of any future passenger information industry – but deciding which is right for your organisation and your budget is a crucial step in delivering a passenger information solution that works for you. To help you here, we’ve compiled a detailed guide to assist.
Printed publicity - for so long the corner stone of passenger information in the public transport industry - is changing. Indeed, it is increasingly looking to incorporate interactive elements such as Quick Response (QR) codes. These tools enable printed materials to be enhanced with specific information while also enabling traditional, blended schedule data to be blended with real-time elements.
As explained in this article, reports of the death of printed publicity have been greatly exaggerated (to paraphrase Mark Twain). While it is clear the general trend is toward mobile information and responding to the growing smartphone market, there remain significant numbers of passengers who rely on printed material to help them get from A to B. For this reason, any future public information system must – strange though it may sound – continue to use traditional information. It just needs to be modernised!
By utilising a passenger information system that can bring together real-time data from multiple sources, it is possible to deliver passengers a fully integrated and information-rich experience while also improving data quality.
This is something that a number of Local Authorities and commercial bus operators are already doing. In Wiltshire, United Kingdom, teams from the local council are “linking with the AVL units and ticketing machines on most local bus operator vehicles in order to provide really accurate real-time information,” according to Elizabeth Douglas – Wiltshire’s Real-Time Bus Information Systems Manager.
But of course there’s further value of using systems that enable this sort of integration. Not only can they enhance data quality (and thus improve passenger experience), they can also improve joined-up working with your partner organisations – be they local authorities, commercial bus operators or third-party organisations.
Just as the increasing use of smartphones by passengers is an important trend to consider when it comes to the future of passenger information, so too is the rise of social media – and its utilisation as a means of pushing out travel information to the travelling public.
It certainly appears as though social media tools like Twitter can be used to great effect by transport providers. However, while it is important to recognise the benefits of social media to your passenger information strategy, it is also important to understand that social media is just one part of providing users with a genuinely personal, tailored information solution.
When it comes to passenger information, it really is a matter of trust. Members of the public are most likely to turn to brands they trust when looking to acquire the information they need to make their journeys. Because of this, it is vital to ensure your brand is thought of as trustworthy by your passengers. And to do this, your passenger information needs to be consistently accurate and reliable.
Of course, if you’ve followed the previous steps outlined in this article, you’ll be well on your way to providing your passengers with the highest quality information – and in a way that suits their individual needs as public transport users. So the next stage is to ensure your passenger information tools are firmly associated and linked with your organisation’s brand and message.
By using tools that can be tailored to your requirements and designed to fit your style and brand, you are able to do just this. By providing your own sites, you can further help maintain the trusting relationship with your passengers, control the quality of information they receive, and ensure it is your message they receive when looking for travel information.
These tools thus improve your brand strength, while simultaneously improving quality of passenger information – so that both your organisation and your passengers receive reciprocal benefits!
To take the right steps on the path to a brighter future for passenger information, technology will help local authorities and transport operators alike in revolutionising the way we deliver travel information to our passengers.
By following the above steps, the future really could be a bright one. After all, we’ve already seen how innovative passenger information solutions raise passenger satisfaction and increase ridership!
Sorry, did we say the future? All of this is possible right now!
Originally published by Paul Everson, Trapeze United Kingdom: http://www.trapezegroup.co.uk/article/8-steps-to-a-brighter-future-for-passenger-information#sthash.cIlwb1nC.dpuf
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Brisbane, QLD 4000
1300 663 662 or from outside AU +61 7 3129 2092
Singapore: +65 6340 1022
India: +9198 1040 7444
Middle East: +971 4 252 6640
Available Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 5:00pm (AEST) excluding Australian national public holidays.
Thank you. Your request has been sent.