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SkyRoster: Seamless Real-Time Adjustments for Optimized Ground Staff Scheduling

Airports are dynamic transport hubs, managing numerous flights and passengers daily. They tackle intricate logistical challenges to ensure smooth and safe operations. Key to this is ground handling, which includes a range of tasks like refueling, baggage management, and aircraft cleaning, all essential before a plane's next departure.

Real-time planning and staff management are critical in airport operations. Real-time planning is key for adjusting daily schedules to manage unexpected events and disruptions. This often involves rescheduling tasks as the day progresses, ensuring airport activities run smoothly.

Staff management also plays a vital role, focusing on organizing employee work schedules. This includes assigning shifts for adequate task coverage and managing leave requests. Effective staff management is crucial for optimizing the workforce, and balancing airport demands with employee needs. Together, these processes are pivotal in maintaining operational efficiency and safety.

However, some significant challenges arise as many airports still rely on spreadsheets or outdated rostering tools for these tasks. These traditional methods often lack the necessary flexibility and efficiency, especially in the dynamic environment of an airport. Such limitations can lead to delays and operational inefficiencies, underscoring the need for more sophisticated approaches like rostering automation platforms

This context sets the stage for a deeper exploration into real-time optimization problems in airport operations, emphasizing the need for more advanced and adaptive solutions to overcome the shortcomings of older systems and enhance the overall efficiency and responsiveness in these complex environments.

Real-time optimization in Airport Ground Handling

Real-time optimization is crucial in airport operations, especially in dealing with day-to-day challenges. Original schedules can't predict or instantly adapt to changes that happen during the day. To keep the workforce running efficiently, airports constantly adjust schedules, ensuring tasks are evenly distributed among staff. This ongoing adjustment, known as re-planning, is essential for smooth operations.

To better handle these changes, initial schedules often include 'buffers' – extra time to manage unexpected events. But these buffers can lead to idle time for employees, conflicting with the goal of minimizing costs. So, airports face the challenge of finding the right balance between cost efficiency and the flexibility to adapt to changes.

Even with these buffers, schedules often need re-planning, especially when significant disruptions occur. Uncertainties like flight delays, staff absences, or shift changes demand quick schedule adjustments.

Ground staff, who often travel between different areas like terminals and gates, need to adapt to changes in their work locations throughout the day. Efficiently managing these movements is key, particularly when dealing with delays, cancellations, and varying staff availability.

Next we'll delve into how SkyRoster, a platform for seamless, real-time adjustments in ground staff scheduling, can revolutionize these processes. SkyRoster offers an innovative solution for managing the dynamic and often unpredictable nature of airport ground handling, enhancing efficiency and operational flow.

SkyRoster: Advanced real-time scheduling solution for non-disruptive adjustments

Initially developed for the ATC industry, SkyRoster is a pivotal tool for addressing real-time operational disruptions. Tien and Kamiyama have developed an intricate five-step method for workforce scheduling, enhancing the conventional approach by deftly blending day-off, shift, and tour scheduling into a more dynamic and adaptable system. How is this five-step procedure integrated into SkyRoster, considering the app already accommodates various shift types and days off, and how might it further benefit the scheduling of ground staff?

1. Temporal Manpower Requirement: Determines the needed number of workers at various times by establishing the types and numbers of shifts. In SkyRoster, the planning manager can create and define new shift types like this:

2. Total Manpower Requirement: the total number of staff needed to fulfill the operational demands. In the HR Management module of SkyRoster, the planning manager has an overview of all employees and can also add new ones.

3. Recreation Blocks: Sets the size and frequency of continuous days off for employees, like weekends. From an employee perspective, this functions as their personal calendar, where they can view schedules and submit requests. The details of this calendar will be displayed in SkyRoster like this:

4. Recreation/Work Schedule: The defined recreation blocks within the roster to create a schedule for days off. In SkyRoster, by accessing their calendar, employees can request a day off like this:

5. Shift Schedule: Finally, assigns shifts for each workday based on the earlier steps, resulting in a fully scheduled roster. In SkyRoster, you can easily create a roster by accessing the Strategic Roster module. You have the option to start from scratch or continue with a previous one. 

Here's how the roster will look:

In envisioning the application of real-time optimization, SkyRoster demonstrates its potential through various scenarios. Imagine these situations to appreciate the benefits it can offer:

Cost Reduction at a Busy Airport Hub:

  • Background: A high-traffic airport grappling with high labor costs due to inefficient shift planning.

  • Challenge: To optimize staff scheduling to meet all operational needs while keeping labor expenses in check.

  • Solution: Implementation of SkyRoster's AI-driven rostering system to streamline shift assignments and reduce overtime.

  • Outcome: Reduction in labor costs by 25%, enhanced operational efficiency, and better alignment of staff schedules with airport requirements.

Regional Airport Adapts to Weather Disruptions:

  • Background: A mid-sized airport in a region frequently affected by sudden weather changes, impacting flight schedules and necessitating quick staff adjustments.

  • Challenge: To quickly adapt to unexpected schedule changes while managing limited resources.

  • Solution: Adoption of SkyRoster's real-time scheduling adjustments for efficient staff allocation during weather disruptions.

  • Outcome: Improved operational agility, decreased reliance on last-minute overtime, and a better passenger experience during weather-related disruptions.

In a nutshell, SkyRoster represents a transformative solution for airport ground staff scheduling, addressing the dynamic and unpredictable nature of airport operations. Its innovative approach to real-time optimization offers a much-needed alternative to traditional, less flexible scheduling methods. By enabling airports to respond quickly to changes such as flight delays and staff absences, SkyRoster not only enhances operational efficiency but also improves overall passenger experience. As airports continue to evolve and face new challenges, tools like SkyRoster will be crucial in ensuring that they remain agile, efficient, and capable of meeting the demands of the modern travel industry. To explore how SkyRoster can transform your operations, be sure to book a product tour today!

Clausen, T. (2010). Airport Ground Staff Scheduling. Technical University of Denmark. DTU Management 2011 No. 2

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