Thursday, June 5, 2014

Getting the best out of your operations control - part 1

"You can’t motivate people, but you can create an environment that encourages them to be motivated." In his article Getting the Best Out of People in the Workplace, Les Landes covers a number of key areas to achieve that goal. What applies to the workplace in general, surely applies to operations control.

This first post about 'getting the best out of your operations control' addresses the operations control processes. Les Landers points out that "if people don’t have clearly defined processes for the tasks that they’re expected to do, they are likely to struggle with how to carry out the tasks." What follows is how a high-level model for an integrated operations control. Such a model should apply for each process being monitored and steered, whether the airport can manage the process directly or not.

Let us take an example of the passenger flow, specifically passenger screening. Flight schedule, resource allocation, capacity information and standard processing times can be used to predict expected passengers and expected waiting times. In the best case, booked passenger numbers are available from the airlines (split by transfer and local passengers). During the day, planned information is automatically and dynamically updated with status changes, such as cancellations, delays, passenger number changes, gate changes, etc. which make the predictions more valuable. Automatically triggered warnings alert coordinators in operations control about potential bottlenecks (e.g. expected waiting times even with all lines open). Pro-active actions can be taken like delaying gate information to passengers and changing the gate. An actual waiting time at a passenger screening, automatically detected or manually reported, will trigger an alert and associated action. Such an action can be, obviously, to open more lines. Another action, maybe not that obvious, would be to first provide a list of flights which are currently being processed at security screening and which maybe become critical to complete boarding in time. Then, passengers of that flight can be directly addressed at the screening point. The analysis and reporting does not only cater for statistics. It should also analyse how well the prediction was, in order to adjust the algorithm. And provide feedback to planning and scheduling.

Now apply the same approach and technology to other processes.

Let's see what will be in part 2 of the series on how to get the best out your operations control. Maybe about Constructive Accountability?