It has become possible to use computerised processes to simplify timetable and duty roster planning, to optimise the results of the planning, to make it easier to schedule staff and vehicles, and to offer integrated decision-making aids when appropriate.
Planning and scheduling systems can be incorporated into an integrated IT solution which allows for cross-functional networking of all data collected in different locations by the company.
"Duty roster scheduling" refers to planning the times and places in which staff will carry out their predefined responsibilities ("duties"). This is primarily used for transit drivers, because the majority of a transport company's workforce is responsible for vehicle operation.
Their working hours have to be adapted to the transit timetables and comply with a multitude of legal, technical, labour, financial and company-specific parameters – an extremely complex task.
To improve cost-effectiveness and leverage synergies, duty roster scheduling systems should also feature additional functions such as scheduling vacations, managing accounts, processing hours-worked data for wage calculation purposes, and compiling statistics.
In managing staff assignments, there can also be no gaps between the duty roster and the monitoring/scheduling performed by the control centre.
Therefore, the system must be able to handle last-minute changes to the duty roster – in particular disruptions to operations, employee illnesses, or even special duties – before the shift begins. To allow shifts to be covered at short notice, existing schemes can be used: back-up or reserve duty, additional personnel, off-duty personnel (on-call if necessary) and staff that has already completed a shift (as long as mandatory rest periods are complied with).
Mobile internet services (smartphones) are increasingly being used for the communication and transmission of duty rosters. Including employees in the duty roster scheduling process can increase job satisfaction and improve subjective well-being.
Another example of a planning and scheduling system is computerised depot management, comprising scheduling (including vehicle identification and localisation), controls (including train controls and route scheduling) and workshop management (maintenance, diagnostics).