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Turbocharge your crew-scheduling logistics, in three steps

ERL---Manu-John-Blog

Industries such as oil and gas, cruise tourism, mining and shipbuilding may, at first glance, seem like strange bedfellows. But they all have one thing in common: they rely on complex, shift patterns of workers travelling to and living on-site, to keep their operations running around the clock.

All these sectors are under pressure to manage costs, improve productivity and cut emissions associated with travel to and from the site. They also face labor shortages. And one of the best ways to attract and retain staff is by improving the employee experience through faster and easier transit to and from work sites.

Getting the crew to the right site at the right time can be costly and complex for all these industry segments. Labor requirements, international travel laws and policies, visa, and other requirements can fluctuate significantly over time, sometimes unpredictably.

Planners themselves may inject complexity through error, problems with inadequate documentation, lack of compliance, inaccurate crew readiness checks, or other factors. Adverse weather events or political factors can cause added costs and increased overheads.

In this article, we present a 3-step plan for improving efficiency and reducing the costs of one of the most critical areas of oil and gas operations: workforce logistics. 

1. Act now to optimize your workforce planning using '360-180-90-60-30' framework

One of the best ways to improve workforce logistics forecasts is to increase the accuracy of planning with a state-of-the-art demand capture and variance-tracking system. We call the most advanced workforce-logistics operating models '360-180-90-60-30' planning frameworks.

Based on historical operations data, as well as complementary data from a range of sources, your operations managers can use this framework to forecast required staffing levels, and workforce logistics, 360 days in advance.

Over the course of the next year, at intervals of 180, then 90, 60 and finally 30 days out from the travel departure deadline, you use the framework to repeatedly refine your crew requirements and their logistics needs for each site you operate.

If, for instance, you achieve 50% accuracy in your predictions for workforce and logistics demand at 360 days, by the time you get to 30 days out you might target and expect to achieve 85% accuracy.

This increase in demand accuracy as your planning horizon approaches delivers immediate improvements in efficiency. And with each year you operate the framework, you accumulate more and richer data, allowing you to continually improve accuracy and workforce-logistics efficiency targets in every subsequent year.

Research by IBS Software found that by switching to an improved '360 Day' planning horizon, companies with massive workforce requirements like the upstream oil and gas operators can achieve 20% reduction in logistics spend [1]. It can also help operators cut 10-15% off their contract rates and reduce spot hires by as much as 80% [1].

To find out more about how 30-60-90-180 day variance tracking and advanced, predictive planning can help you optimize your workforce logistics, download our FREE e-book, Sustainable Logistics Cost Optimization Strategies for Upstream Oil & Gas Industry.

2. Take faster, better decisions with real-time logistics tracking from the logistics control tower (LCT)

The next step in optimizing your workforce-logistics operations is to adopt a logistics control tower (LCT) model. In this context the 'control tower' represents a digital central hub for real-time tracking and communications, harmonizing people, processes, and technology to monitor all logistics activities accurately, on an integrated technology platform. This platform presents operations managers with all the insights and data they need for real-time logistics decision making, in a single interface.

Oil and gas supply chains are complex networks connecting many service providers and transportation carriers across various modes of transport. Integrating historical and real-time travel and accommodation data from all these separate stakeholders, all using different platforms, is key to maximizing efficiency, minimizing disruption, controlling costs, and ensuring you always have the right workers on site.

The LCT model, based on a single, advanced, and unified logistics planning platform, enables you to:

  • connect all systems in the logistics chain for a 360-degree view of travel, transit, stay, ground transport and site accommodation and other data across your workforce logistics.
  • benefit from always-on up-to-date information on crew readiness (visa, skills, training compliances), logistics demand, fleet utilization, trips planned, reservations— and more.
  • Improve cooperation with all stakeholders; by giving everyone the data and transparency they need to improve their performance against service level agreements (SLAs).
  • Prepare efficient emergency response plans for flood, fire, hurricane and other natural disasters by taking insights from a map-based real-time view of fleet and personnel.

Along with the unified technology platform, another key component of the LCT model is the use of data analytics to provide the real-time and forward insights you need to make continually refined and cost-effective decisions in the event of disruptions and other unforeseen situations.

In this way, the LCT enables you to continually improve the entire workforce logistics supply chain by providing a 3600 view of operations.

3. Plan better, with what-if simulations scientific modelling and digital twins

Well begun is half done, as the saying goes. This brings us to the final step: improve the accuracy of your workforce-logistics planning with, scientific models powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) and with a capability for planners to do what-if simulations

This step, although we've kept it to last, underlies and enables the other two. Using advanced AI, drawing on all the relevant data sources, you can:

  • test and optimize different data-driven forecasting models, using the up-to-the-minute flexibility provided by AI to factor in seasonal and other deviations, right down to the wire.
  • create and continually update a digital twin of your entire workforce-logistics fleet — so you can model, predict, and improve performance.
  • Use generate AI to integrate a more diverse, natural-language, selection of inputs, for improved, forecasting, insights, and recommendations.
  • Use advanced correlation analysis to spot previously undetected patterns in data, helping you to find things such as inefficient fuel consumption, potential fraud and so on.

A key component of digital solutions, such as digital twins, is the capability to mirror the logistics operations based on various real life 'what-if' scenarios. They do this by considering factors such as adverse weather, CO2 emissions, crew-change dates and so on, which might impact crew-logistics efficiency. They then model the impact of various scenarios involving these factors, to find the most efficient, cost effective, resilient crew and logistics strategy.

For logistics functions handling massive workforce movements, transformation changes and initiatives like these must be driven by strategic leadership teams. Using a combination of all these 3 bold steps mathematical models, advanced AI, data analytics, LCT model and a progressive planning framework, it's possible to significantly reduce the costs and increase the efficiency of your workforce logistics planning.

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