Six tips for making sure your dispatch is doing all the right moves
Planning, design, construction, maintenance and waste disposal are a few aspects public works departments deal with daily. It seems like a great deal of specialized work and reporting because it absolutely is.
And all of it routed through a dispatch center.
Without the right tools in place, a dispatcher cannot keep things running smoothly. Nor communicate with other departments on time. There is too much to handle without a software system that fully supports the dispatch work.
Fortunately, this is the age of the ERP (enterprise resource planning system). With the ERP options currently out there, public works departments can maximize efficiency, track assets, facility management and ensure compliance with both local and national regulations for safety and environmental matters.
Centralize with an ERP
Dispatchers are a busy group no matter what day of the week or month of the year it is. The simple fact is that they don’t have the time to report to other departments, customers, and provide support to crews that are handling projects and work orders.
With an ERP, there are countless benefits to dispatch departments:
- Mapping out routes for utility crews
- Tracking permits
- Tracking work orders and work that’s been done or performed
- Scheduling tests and inspections
So, hand tracking and updating information isn’t a necessity anymore.
In addition, an ERP handles these facets in one centralized software platform—eliminating the need for multiple software packages and the training that is needed to operate them. Records are easily found, reporting is no longer a hassle, and compliance on both local and state levels is as easy as running a report and sending it to the regulatory contact.
ERP software has moved dispatch departments into the present day, technologically speaking, much to the delight of dispatchers everywhere.
Resource planning and contract administration
Does the dispatch team have the technology necessary to job plan and update work orders efficiently? What about multi-site management issues? Are your job planners and engineers able to move resources, equipment and staff to the site from one software platform?
The ability to find out the status of raw materials, send heavy equipment to the site on time and ensure that key staff members report to the job site to start the project, is a reality for planners and engineers using resource planning software. ERP software makes managing projects and navigating equipment a simple task, and the ability to route everything remotely from the job site means construction and task planning can be performed quickly and efficiently.
Safety isn’t secondary
Safety can never be taken lightly, because of the risk of injury and death that public works, utilities and construction crews face every day. Not only is there mandatory OSHA training that must be performed before an employee ever reports for duty, but there are safety equipment checks and reports that must be handled before the equipment can be used or operated for the day.
Failing to document safety equipment inspections and heavy equipment maintenance can lead to major issues if there is an accident on the site. There is no shortcut for safety when it comes to public works crews, and it must always be handled with strict attention to detail and follow the letter of the law.
Cost control can be simple
Effective project management occurs when a full snapshot of the project can be obtained in real-time. Labor, costs, materials, permitting, regulatory compliance and adherence to the timeline are all factors in a complete overview of the project. If you’re missing any of these components, you don’t have a clear picture of where the project stands at this moment.
Permitting to billing
The ability to track permits that have been issued, any work performed against them, and also calculate and collect the applicable fees greatly reduces the load on city employees. In addition, the ability to handle the required documentation, such as plans and approved inspection sheets, assists in easing the time it takes to properly close a permit, which residents are appreciative of. With ERP software platforms, this is the new reality in permitting and customer billing. It eases the workload on staff by reducing the number of in-person visits to handle permit opening and closing and allows for the fees and payments schedule to be easily updated for customer viewing.
Automation in maintenance
Routing utility crews, asset and facility work orders, and testing and inspecting existing equipment is a normal day in dispatch. A centralized platform gives the dispatcher the necessary tools to perform their role in an efficient manner without the need to manually open and update work orders and preventative maintenance orders. This can save thousands of man hours annually, freeing the staff to focus on what they do best—dispatching.
Talmage Wagstaff is the co-founder and CEO of REDLIST. Raised in a construction environment, Wagstaff has been involved in heavy equipment since he was a toddler. He has degrees and extensive experience in civil, mechanical and industrial engineering. Wagstaff worked for several years as a field engineer with ExxonMobil servicing many of the largest industrial production facilities in the country.