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Fall 2002
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ArcLogistics Route Streamlines Vehicle Dispatching

Electrical Load Management Provider Boosts Productivity With GIS

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GoodCents Solutions uses ArcLogistics Route to build clusters of stops so that each technician can work in the same general area for an entire week, thereby minimizing driving time and distance.

GoodCents Solutions, an electrical firm of approximately 100 employees headquartered in Stone Mountain, Georgia, installs surge protection equipment and load management devices for electrical appliances such as heat pumps, air conditioners, and water heaters. As a contract service provider to utility companies in five states, GoodCents Solutions serves mostly residential customers who use the energy-saving, cost-saving devices to cycle off their appliances during peak use/peak cost hours.

Until recently, GoodCents Solutions dispatchers used a manual system of spreadsheets, ZIP Code lists, map books, and wall maps to locate several hundred service orders; assign each order to a service technician; and ultimately, design a set of five routes (representing the following week's work) for each technician. The manual routing and scheduling process was quite time-consuming; dispatchers typically spent three or four "person-days" per week to build routes for their 12 service technicians.

As the company won contracts for new projects, managers quickly realized that continuing to rely on manual routing methods was simply not practical. In addition to being a time-consuming task, the entire manual routing process was further complicated by street addresses that were either misspelled or incomplete. Some service orders also required that an appointment be set, further complicating an already laborious process.

"In the past, we manually sorted our service orders by ZIP Code and then assigned technicians to a cluster of ZIP Codes," says Mike Whalen, GoodCents Solutions vice president of operations. "This system was inefficient, especially considering that we now have some projects with 15 to 20 technicians. We needed a better routing system, one that would speed up the route planning process. We assigned someone to research and evaluate available vehicle routing software and, after reviewing several systems, learned of ArcLogistics Route."

GoodCents Solutions contacted Herb Rawling from Mapping Technologies International, Inc. (MTI), in Moorestown, New Jersey, an Esri Business Partner, and received a demonstration of ArcLogistics Route.

utility truck
GoodCents Solutions installs surge protection and direct load control devices and operates in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, and Illinois.
 

"We were impressed with how fast we could bring our service orders into the system and build routes," says GoodCents dispatcher Beth Allen.

A key feature of the software that greatly reduces the amount of time spent routing is the ability to geocode service orders. When orders are imported into ArcLogistics Route, the street address for each order is geocoded, or matched, against the underlying street database. In the event that a match is not found, the dispatcher can use an interactive map to place an electronic pushpin at the correct location for that service order. This exact service location can then be saved for future use. This is a huge time-saver for GoodCents Solutions since not all service orders that get imported each week are actually routed to a service technician the first pass through the system.

When they are setting up the routes, dispatchers also take into account individual technicians' abilities and speed at which they work. For example, an experienced technician who wants to work six days per week may be assigned 125 service orders, whereas a new recruit may only be assigned 35.

Anne Adair, another GoodCents Solutions dispatcher, says, "Using ArcLogistics Route software, we can schedule multiple projects through the use of specialties for each technician."

ArcLogistics Route has also helped GoodCents Solutions streamline the route planning process by easily handling service orders that require a specific appointment time. The appointment time is automatically taken into account when routes are built. Also, when a technician is scheduled to be out of work, a dispatcher simply needs to lock out the vehicle assigned to that technician to prevent it from being used.

"It used to take most of the week to route the next week's work for 12 technicians. Now it takes a day or less to route 20 technicians," says Wilbur Blackman, project manager.

For more information, contact Wilbur Blackman, project manager, GoodCents Solutions (tel.: 678-836-1062, e-mail: wilbur.blackman@goodcents.com, Web: www.goodcents.com), or Herb Rawling, president, Mapping Technologies International, Inc. (tel.: 856-914-0340, fax: 856-914-0345, e-mail: hrawling@mapus.com), or visit www.mapus.com.

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