WA Ferries Begins Workforce Scheduling Solution

Monday, March 02, 2009

The implementation of WINDS (Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Ferries Division (WSF) Integrated Dispatch System) is now underway. WINDS is a Quintiq workforce planning solution configured to provide core business functions that comprise the dispatch and staffing of up to 1,800 employees at WSF. These functions include planning, scheduling, dispatch and tracking of deck crews, engine room crews and terminal employees.

WSF is the largest ferry system in the United States and the largest ferry system in the world based on vehicles carried, transporting 23 million passengers and 11 million vehicles annually. The ferry system operates 22 vessels, providing 450 daily sailings on its ten routes. WSF operates and maintains 20 terminals offering service from Pt. Defiance, Tacoma in the south, to Sidney, British Columbia in the north.

The vast majority – 92 percent – of WSF's workforce belong to one of six unions, each of which has different collective bargaining agreements. The Quintiq solution will address all collective bargaining agreement requirements and emerging regulations related to workforce dispatch functions. The new system will provide WSF with an integrated solution that supports all union, legislative and safety requirements for dispatch operations in use today and provides a platform for enhanced capabilities to meet new requirements as they emerge or change going forward.

The WINDS implementation using Quintiq’s solution will automate the WSF deck, engine room and terminal operations dispatch functions. It will assign shifts and dispatch employees, while accounting for individual employee skills and training certifications, government regulations, employee preferences and union rules.

“Quintiq should allow us to accurately comply with deck, engine room and terminal employee union contracts across the board, and to incorporate new business efficiencies, which would greatly improve our staffing process and controls.” said WSF Director of Operation Steve Rodgers. 

The solution will also be used in real time to enable WSF dispatchers to manage last-minute staffing changes due to staff leave on short notice, weather impacts to the workforce deployment and technical challenges requiring workforce reconfiguration. Employing advanced algorithms, the Quintiq solution will enable WSF to optimize its workforce utilization while improving work assignment accuracy and accountability as part of its streamlined processes.

The WINDS solution will replace WSDOT’s existing custom-built application, the Automated Dispatch and Scheduling System (ADSS). Maintenance issues and limited flexibility were factors in WSDOT's decision to search for a new staffing and dispatch solution. After a competitive selection process, Quintiq was chosen because it met WSDOT's business and technical requirements. These requirements include unique scheduling and dispatch capabilities along with the system’s ability to integrate with WSDOT's existing infrastructure - which includes SAP-HRMS, a payroll system, an internally developed vessel scheduling system, and other requisite systems.

Another important factor in WSDOT's choice of Quintiq was rapid deployment, as demanded by state and federal funding time constraints. Quintiq solutions combine the benefits of off-the-shelf standard software in terms of speed-of-implementation and use of best practices, with the flexibility of software that is configured to incorporate all of WSF's scheduling rules and constraints to ensure a 100 percent fit. The implementation will be conducted within a very tight timeframe.


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