Prototyping the Roster for an Understaffed Air Navigation Service Provider: Part 3

Updated: Oct 1, 2021

This post is part of the series Prototyping the Roster for an Understaffed Air Navigation Service Provider: Part1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 In the last part, we have presented how to build the ANSP structure on the SkyRoster Cloud Platform. The most important steps involved importing licenses data, recreating the structure of the ANSP (Units and Teams), and importing the staff data by pairing ATCOs with their teams.


The following steps were to create shift types, analyze the Sector Opening Time Table (SOT) to define the manpower requirements, and add balanced leaves for all ATCOs for one year period. Doing this, we were rapidly approaching to run our first simulations, as all the data had been received and manipulated.



Final steps before running the simulation

1. Create shift types

2. Defined manpower requirement from Sector Opening Time Tables

3. Add balanced staff leaves for one year


1. Create shift types

We mentioned in the first part of this story that our client is a new-to-launch ANSP. This means that even if there was already a defined shift work pattern, there was also the desire to simulate other configurations to find the best solution for their demand. So, it all started with meetings with the ANSP representatives, where we gathered ideas from both the syndicate members and ATCOs. Many ideas came out from the brainstorming session, and we have registered all of them in the SkyRoster Platform for future simulations.


It was important to know how the ANSP is working and if there is any defined pattern or not, as SkyRoster can offer a varied range of possibilities when it comes to shifting planning. The case of our client was that they are working in teams, following a specific shift work pattern. There were three types of working periods defined: Morning, Afternoon, and Night shifts.


For each working period defined, we had to give it a name, a code to be displayed in the roster table, and the minimum rest time after every shift (which enforces the fatigue risk management system constraints). Other parameters include the replacement allowance in hours for every shift that is worked from an on-call shift, the text and background color, and ultimately the start and end time of the shift.


For the resting period, we've defined two types of shifts. As the ANSP is understaffed, there was the possibility to do overtime in their Off shifts, but with a certain rule. After the night shift, we have defined a rest period of 24 hours, which could not be taken into consideration as stand-by time. The other rest shifts can be converted into work shifts by selecting a special box in the editor (the “Can do replacement” option).


As the working periods were defined, we moved forward to the working pattern and discussed the best solution for incorporating both the existent working style and the regulations and recommendations in terms of working hour limitations and fatigue risks. The optimal solution was then called “MANROO”, which is composed as could be observed in the name by a Morning shift, followed by an Afternoon and a Nightshift. The Nightshift is followed by a Rest shift, without the possibility to do any duty. The rest two Off shifts were configured as On-call, in case overtime is needed.


2. Define manpower requirements from the Sector Opening Time Tables (SOT)

Moving one step closer to finalize the parametrization, after defining the working periods and the working pattern, we had to identify what was the demand for the past two years, in the peak periods (winter and summertime), as well as the average to be used for the other two seasons. Having the SOT split in 24 hours for 104 weeks, we could identify for each hour the minimum and the maximum number of sectors and an average number for the entire period. After discussions with our clients, we concluded that we need 3 ATCOs for each open sector, with two additional supervisors. So, for three sectors opened, there was a total of 11 employees required on duty.


Once we had the SOT for both winter and summer periods, we were able to transpose the data in the Manpower Requirements section on the SkyRoster dedicated server. For the first two simulations, there were only two MPRs created, one for the winter period and the other one for the summer. As the ANSP is working in teams, both MPRs were Team-based MPRs, using the MANROO pattern created previously.



As we expected, the minimum number of necessary employees to be at work was spotted during the night shift and the maximum number in both the morning and afternoon shifts. Having the exact sector openings and their demand, we were able to create a customized MPR for the ANSP.


3. Add balanced staff leaves for one year

The last step before creating the complete overview of the ANSP was to distribute leaves for all ATCOs during a year. It was important to simulate the approximate workload during a month for the rostering process to be as accurate as possible. As presented in the second part of the story, the leave types can differ, and for the simulation, we focused mainly on annual leave, unplanned leave, and English training.


In the initial contract, all ATCOs had an allowance of 25 days, with the mention that for each year in the company, they would receive an extra day, with a maximum of 36 days/year. Some ATCOs also brought forward days from the past year, and bonus allowances can be added manually for any single ATCO. As an average number, around 30 days were granted for the ATCOs per year. We broke the entire period into 15 consecutive days or 7/8 consecutive days for each planned leave, to better reflect the reality. After this process, the entire allowance for all ATCOs was randomly added to the entire year. Then we were ready to start our first simulations.



In the next post, we will dive into the first two simulations, we will extract the conclusions after the discussion with our clients, and plan the steps we had to further implement. Make sure you stay tuned for our next chapter or begin your first one by signing up for our Free Plan.

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