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One of the most important planning problems in many large service organizations and business environments is the allocation of employees to tasks. Task assignments to employees is sometimes coupled with the problem with employment level determination i.e. evaluating the minimum number of employees needed to fulfil staffing demands over the planning period. This problem comes in many variants, such as staff scheduling, project scheduling and rostering. Generally, scheduling of employees is a complex and time-consuming task as such it involves assigning the right people to right job at right time.
As such, employees often need to be more flexible about the tasks performed, as it has different skill requirements.
A lot of studies have been conducted on employee scheduling around the world and it mostly focused on industries such as airline crews, rail-road crew, nurses in hospital and technicians in service industry. Generally, for organizations that deliver on-site services, the routing aspect has become an important part of scheduling process.
Scheduling employees plays a vital role in many organizations, as it is concerned with the allocation of personnel i.e. staff or employees to tasks and has a direct impact on the operational performance, such as productivity of day-to-day operations, labor cost and the quality of the service provided.
In general context of Workforce Scheduling and Routing Problems (WSRP), there are many scenarios in which employees must perform tasks at geographically dispersed locations, hence requiring some form of transportation. Examples of these type of scenarios include, service engineers carrying out repair works and service work at specific customer locations, nurse visiting patients at home, etc.
In this scenario, the number of activities across the dispersed locations is usually larger than the number of employees available, requiring them to travel between the work locations. Hence, optimization techniques are developed to schedule and route the employees on daily basis to minimize the total distance travelled. The main benefits of efficient employee scheduling are:
This Workforce Scheduling and Routing Problem (WSRP) mainly combines the features of workforce scheduling problems with the vehicle routing problem (VRP), technician scheduling, manpower allocation and travelling salesman problem (TSP) to ensure that a set of geographically scattered tasks are completed whilst respecting employee work arrangements. The technician routing and scheduling problem consists in routing and scheduling a crew of technicians to attend a set of service requests, subject to distance and time constraints. In TRSP, each technician has a set of skills, tools, spare parts, while requests require a subset of each. The TRSP be an extension of Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP), where technicians (Service Engineers) play a role of vehicles and requests are made by clients, thus belonging to the class of NP-Hard problem.
The Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP) is nothing but finding the optimal routes of from one or several depots to several cities or customers, while satisfying the distance constraint. Garbage collection, goods delivery trucks, goods distribution and mail delivery are the most popular known applications of the VRP. Generally, the heuristics used to solve vehicle routing problem is an important research area as such these are needed for real life problems, where transportation needs of different companies often are different and thus call for various types of vehicle routing problems. Since VRP is known to be an NP-hard problem in the strong sense and it cannot be solved optimality in polynomial time, researchers have resorted to develop heuristic algorithms. Though they cannot guarantee us the optimal solutions but provide fast solutions with in no time. The most popular known variations of VRP are:
The duration (service time) of each visit can vary, but it should be between a time framework in which the visit must finish. Clients are divided into different regions so that engineers living nearby are assigned to each region reducing the travelling time indeed reducing the distance. Apart from WSRP, VRP and TRSP, manpower allocation refers to assigning to a set of customer locations to perform service activities. As such, the primary aim of this manpower or staff allocation are to minimize the number of engineers used, minimize the total travel distance and maximize the number of tasks assigned. As mentioned earlier, VRP is an extension of Travelling Salesman Problem (TSP). In similar context, the TSP is used to find the minimum number of vehicles required to serve a set of scattered customers in a distance-constrained VRP.
It is an optimization as well as NP-hard problem, which is defined as the method to find a tour of a given number of cities, visiting each city exactly once and returning to the starting point i.e. head quarter where the length (distance travelled by the salesman) is minimized. According to computational theory and complexities, the hardness in solving travelling salesman problem increases exponentially if a number of cities is more. Traveling Salesman Problems (TSP) have many applications such as planning, scheduling, transportation and logistics. Different techniques such as integer programming, genetic algorithm, branch and bound method, dynamic programming etc. are used to solve travelling salesman problems.
Though these methods provide good solutions, they often take long time to construct it. But the methodology proposed in this paper know as Grouping-Then-Routing (GTR) technique, gives us a better and feasible solution in a very less time and in limited number of iterations. This GTR technique uses the fundamentals of Minimal Spanning Tree (MST) and Hamiltonian Cycle algorithm. During the assignment of employees (staff) to dispersed locations over a region, considerations such as distance travelled and time to reach the client-specific location should be ensured. These include the minimum number of employees required, maximize employee satisfaction by assigning the tasks that are most appropriate to skill the level of employee and by minimizing overtime assignments.
The number of tasks across the scattered locations is usually larger than the employees available, hence they should travel between locations to perform work. Assuming each task needs to be performed at a different location, routing problem comes into picture. Employees rather spend more time performing service than travelling, particularly in settings in which travelling time is also considered as working time, thereby minimizing travel distance and time. Preparing heuristic model using Grouping-Then-Routing (GTR) technique is useful in having a more complete and efficient employee scheduling. Additionally, the combination of Minimal Spanning Tree (MST), Vehicle Routing Problem (VRP) and Travelling Salesman Problem (TSP) in grouping and routing plans will provide another way to minimize total distance travelled.
The primary objective of this research is to develop an efficient-yet-efficient heuristic model to minimize the total travel distance while assigning employees to dispersed locations over a region. The results of this developed heuristic model, are compared with the existing methods and sensitivity analysis is done. To accomplish this research, the following tasks will be completed:
A company was established in the year 1988 with a sole aim to manufacture, sell and service quality products in Indian Market. The promoters are technocrats with engineering backgrounds worked with Indian as well as with MNC major engineering and industrial products manufacturers before starting this organization. Over the years the company has acquired authorized distributorship and dealership of various reputed engineering product manufacturers like KSB Pumps Ltd, Siemens Ltd, Crompton Greaves Ltd, ION Exchange India Ltd, Intervale India Ltd, Atlas Copco Ltd, Kluber Lubrication India Ltd, 3M India Ltd. This company has successfully completed 25 years of experience in the industry by extending quality services and promoting reliable products.
We proud to say that we manufacture Pump set and have more than 700 satisfied customers been in our basket. To satisfy our esteemed customers we have more than 100 qualified & experienced employees to sell and to give service. To be close to our customers, we have 4 offices strategically located in different places such as Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Nellore, and Chennai. Our infrastructure has been expanded to take care of all our customer future requirements in terms of equipment’s and ample spare parts stocks. We continuously enhance our service skill by upgrading the instrumentations and by imparting regular training to our employees.
The main mission and vison of the company is ‘To provide work environment that motivates the employees and encourages them with new ideas to provide best customer service’. Our company also has the Certificate of Merit in A+ Category evaluation of Industrial Pumps for 5 consecutive years from 2008-2013. We are known to provide best service to the customers as it is the cost centers. They are tasked with handling tough issues when things go wrong – whether that meant communicating with an angry customer about a late delivery of product or dispatching a service technician to field (client location) to service or repair. Our company has become most important in providing manufacturing customer service for following these trends:
India is an attractive hub for foreign investments in the manufacturing sector. The manufacturing sector of India has the potential to reach US$ 1 trillion by 2025 and India is expected to rank amongst the top three growth economies and manufacturing destination of the world by 2020. The implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST) will make India a common market with a GDP of US$ 2 trillion along with a population of 1.2 billion people ., which will be a big draw for investors. Manufacturing industries are the chief wealth-producing sectors of an economy. The different engineering product manufacturers that our company deals with are:
KSB is a supplier of pumps, valves, and related services with headquarters in Frankenthal (Pfalz) Germany. A comprehensive range of KSB pumps and valves are manufactured from the facilities of KSB pumps limited spread over 6 centers in India, each facility dedicated to a product line. All the pumps and valves are offered to the market through a very wide distribution network comprising 4 zonal offices, 15 branch offices, over 800 authorized dealers, 4 service stations, over 150 authorized service centers and 22 godowns. Among the 800 authorized dealers, our company is one of them which distributes the same quality of product and provides best service to the customers. The KSB Group has sales and marketing organizations, manufacturing facilities and service operations on all continents. The company has more than 16,000 employees, with annual consolidated sales revenue of over two billion Euros.
Siemens is a global powerhouse focusing on the areas of electrification, automation, and digitalization. One of the world’s largest producers of energy-efficient, resource-saving technologies. In infrastructure and industry solutions the company plays a pioneering role. With an electric Siemens motor, you can always achieve the highest efficiency level. Our systems cover the entire range of synchronous and asynchronous technology. Our company has a unique range of services and support based on our extensive technology and industry expertise.
On the other hand, Crompton Greaves Consumer Electricals Limited (C&G), is the leading manufacturer of all types of pumps and motors for handling water, finding applications in agriculture and commercial sectors. CG offers a wide range of high and low voltage motors (rotating machines). The range includes safe and hazardous area motors, energy efficient motors as well as motors for special applications like brake motor, re-rolling mill, cement mill, oil-well pump etc. Our range also includes DC Motors and Traction motors. Our motors are available in various standards and customized configurations to respond to the exacting demands of the industry.
Atlas Copco handles sales and service of industrial gas and air compressors, dryers and filters, compressors parts and service, and vacuum pumps; construction and demolition tools including mobile compressors, pumps, light towers and generators, excavator attachments, handheld tools, compaction, and road construction equipment. Nationwide sales, distribution and service network support our customers, to ensure that products are running at maximum efficiency and minimum downtime at our customer’s site.As we deal with the sales of water treatment plant spare parts, we also provide good service quality. We use membrane separation methods, water cycle method (which uses water management through water cycle and source reduction and waste management through product recovery and waste minimization).
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