Improved Work Schedules for Transport Workers CSIRO rostering software

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Improved Work Schedules for Transport Workers CSIRO rostering software Powered By Docstoc
					Improved Work Schedules for Transport Workers
CSIRO rostering software has revolutionised
work schedules for train crew of the Australian
National Rail Corporation. A new software
product, developed jointly by CSIRO and
software company The Preston Group, is
helping National Rail devise rosters for freight
train crew in Australia.

Crew scheduling and rostering are two of the
major tasks involved in managing large
transportation networks such as railway, bus
and airline systems. These important tasks are
concerned with the development of duty
schedules (or duty timetables) for crew to
cover a given timetable in a transportation
system. This duty timetable is often spread over
a certain period, known as the roster planning
horizon. For the National Rail Corporation, the
task also involved the development of cyclic
work lines (or rosters) for train drivers spread
over several depots in a rail network.
                                                   National Rail rosters train crew to cover 1500 trips a week across the vast Australian rail network. The task is made much simpler
The Australian rail network offers some unique     by new software which quickly generates rosters that meet work regulations, timetable requirements and staff preferences.
challenges. Unlike European networks, it is
extremely sparse and not highly intercon-          satisfying personal preferences.                                    CSIRO and The Preston Group, a Melbourne
nected. This is because Australia is a large                                                                           based firm that specialises in the development
continent with the majority of population          Crew scheduling and rostering are difficult                         of simulation and optimisation software.
living along coastal areas from Brisbane           problems to solve. They are often large, with                       CSIRO provided the mathematical models and
through Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and            many staff to accommodate. Moreover,                                optimisation algorithms that underpin the
Perth. The network’s main train line goes          practical instances of crew scheduling and                          product. The Preston Group developed links to
through these widely dispersed cities and the      rostering applications involve many hard                            staff, rolling-stock, timetables and industrial
network has several small lines as well. The       constraints arising from operational rules,                         relations databases. They also created a
total track distance is vast.                      workers’ preferences and different regulations                      graphical user interface which hides from users
                                                   that need to be taken into account.                                 the complexity of the optimisation algorithms
Rosters, rules and regulations                                                                                         (and database queries), making the software
                                                   Software saves time                                                 particularly easy to use.
National Rail’s rail timetable includes more
than 1500 trips a week. The rosters for all crew   At National Rail, monthly rosters were
                                                                                                                       Other workplaces with variable demand for
have to conform to complex industrial              previously drawn up using spreadsheet-based
                                                                                                                       services, such as hospitals, police stations,
regulations and work rules. In developing          solutions. The resulting schedules had to be
                                                                                                                       railway systems or banks, could use similar
rostering software for National Rail, CSIRO’s      carefully checked against the rules. This was a
                                                                                                                       rostering systems to replace existing manual
main objective was to minimise the overall         tedious job and often took days to complete.
                                                                                                                       methods. CSIRO is presently developing a
roster cost accrued from using the available       The new staff scheduling software shortens
                                                                                                                       toolkit for generating rosters in a range of
crew while providing the required number of        this process considerably. The system produces
                                                                                                                       work settings.
crew for each train trip in the schedule.          rosters for over 500 crew in under 4 hours.
However, rosters also must adhere to “quality
of life” standards for drivers, in terms of        The new software was developed jointly by
Improved work schedules for transport workers

                                                For further information contact:

                                                Dr Mohan Krishnamoorthy
                                                Operations Research

                                                Phone: 03 9545 8042
                                                Fax: 03 9545 8080

                                                CSIRO Mathematical and Information
                                                Private Bag 10
                                                Clayton South MDC
                                                CLAYTON VIC 3159