Biarri FIFO Management

Grounding the complexity to Fly in Fly Out management

Being able to close the labour and skill gap is a critical factor in sustaining growth and maximising profitability for remote operations. It is imperative that companies have the tools and skills available to unravel the complexity to FIFO management.

FIFO workforces are commonly used by large infrastructure and resource projects in remote regions including rural and offshore. These regions often don’t have adequate infrastructure or an available local workforce with the right skillset which leads to companies requiring the use of workers from interstate and sometimes overseas.

The FIFO problem is complex for many companies. It involves determining efficient ways to move people via aircraft, taking into consideration: multiple projects at various phases over multiple locations, with a dynamic workforce utilising different skillsets on a variety of roster patterns, as well as using a fleet consisting of different types and numbers of aircraft.

Often the goal with FIFO management is to determine the number, and type, of aircraft needed in order to minimise cost whilst working with the opposing objectives of ensuring: the staff arrive before the start of their shift (but not too early), depart after the end of their shift (but not too late) and keeping travel durations to acceptable lengths (to ensure low fatigue).

Balancing FIFO Complexity

Analytics to break through the complexity

With this level of complexity, a traditional excel approach lacks the rigour and power to find the most efficient and effective results. As a result we’ve developed a number of different FIFO optimisers at Biarri to help ensure the best outcome for clients.

The reality is that there are often many more factors that need to be considered which complicates the problem further. Each FIFO optimisation problem often turns out to be quite different once the detail of the problem is better understood.

High Level FIFO Requirements

Some companies just want us to help them “define their fleet, or travel requirements” so they can then go out to tender (it also helps to keep the vendors honest), others actually want an operational tool. Others may be looking to see if there is a business case for upgrading an airport (e.g. if the airport is upgraded, then larger aircraft can be used which can reduce the need for bus in bus out (BIBO) which will alter their risk profile due to road km and can dramatically alter travel durations).

Specific FIFO requirements

Our clients often want different levels of detail in the solution. Some are happy with a solution that ensures adequate movements at the week level (e.g. 15 flights of aircraft type A between locations B and C per week), others want very detailed minute by minute schedules which take into account: turnaround time, time between takeoff and landing, number of aircraft gates with solutions showing exactly who is travelling on which flight and aircraft and when.

Across Multiple Projects

Our clients have also had multiple projects which are often on the go at the same time and sometimes different priorities are given to different projects. These priorities can be used to ensure that if all the people movement demands can’t be met, then the lower priority movements are less likely to be satisfied.

Optimising the time horizon

The optimisation time horizon can also vary significantly with some clients optimising over a 24 hour period (or even less if they want to re-optimise in the middle of the day due to unpredictable events such as delays due to weather) through to clients wanting higher level schedules over several years to help them make strategic decisions and determine how their fleet needs to change over time.

Understanding the constraints

Constraints such as: the maximum distance an aircraft can travel before needing to refuel, maintenance schedules and the refuelling locations themselves often also need to be considered. We’ve dealt with both fixed and rotary wing (helicopters) aircraft. Helicopters have the additional complication of sometimes having to take more fuel (and thus weight) to travel further, which results in the reduction of passengers because of the helicopter’s limited total payload capacity.

Finding the right FIFO parameters

We have outlined some of the parameters that our FIFO optimisers have considered. It is by no means comprehensive and we can always include new parameters if a different problem requires them but it gives a good understanding into the different variables that can, and should be considered.

Some of the typical inputs include:

Airport information

  • Location
  • Hours of operation
  • Refuelling capability
  • Refuelling duration
  • Availability (i.e. you can specify a start and end date for which the airport is available)

Aircraft information

  • Serial number
  • Category (e.g. fixed wing or rotary wing)
  • Type (e.g. DASH 8-200)
  • Average speed
  • Passenger seats
  • Maximum payload
  • Fuel density
  • Fuel tank capacity
  • Re-fuelling time
  • Fuel burn rate
  • Base location
  • Availability (i.e. you can specify a start and end date for which the aircraft is available)
  • Costs

Flight Legs

  • From location
  • To Location
  • Distance
  • Aircraft types able to fly this leg

Project priorities

People Movement Demands

  • Origin
  • Destination
  • Project
  • Number of passengers
  • From Date
  • To Date
  • Arrive Before (i.e. must arrive on their first working day of the roster by this time)
  • Depart After (i.e. must depart after this time on the last working day of the roster)
  • Roster Pattern (e.g. 14:14 = 14 days on, 14 days off)
  • Day of week (i.e. which day of the week can this person travel)
  • Group (demands can be grouped together to allow the user to specify which demands can be grouped on the same aircraft)

Some of the typical outputs include:

KPIs - There are around 40 KPIs, some of them are listed below

  • Total flights
  • Total distance flown
  • Total fuel burned
  • Total number of aircraft required
  • Utilisation Percentage
  • Total unused pax capacity
  • Total passenger demand
  • Total passenger demand satisfied

Resource Summary (i.e. which aircraft are required and when)

  • Serial number
  • Date
  • Total pax
  • Total hours flown
  • Total distance flown
  • Total fuel burned
  • Total flights
  • Total legs
  • Cost

Flight leg details (i.e. which flight legs are required and when)

  • Flight ID
  • Resource ID
  • Pax capacity
  • Available pax capacity (this is < pax capacity if the fuel weight is a limiting factor)
  • Total used pax
  • Utilisation Percentage
  • Departure location
  • Departure date and time
  • Arrival location
  • Arrival date and time
  • Day of week
  • Total distance
  • Total hours flown
  • Total fuel burned
  • Fuel weight at start of leg
  • Refuel at destination (true or false)
  • Turn around time
  • Cost

Flight leg pax details (i.e. which people movement demands travel on which flight legs)

  • Flight ID
  • Origin
  • Departure date and time
  • Destination
  • Arrival date and time
  • Project
  • Pax

Project summary (i.e. which demands from which projects were satisfied)

  • Project name
  • Total demand
  • Total satisfied demand
  • Total unsatisfied demand (e.g. this will be non zero if there is not enough capacity to transport demand)
  • Total impossible to satisfy demand (e.g. this will be non zero if a flight path has not been specified in the inputs that results in some demand being impossible to satisfy regardless of aircraft resources available)

Flight summary

  • Flight ID
  • Number of instances (i.e. how many times is this flight route flown at the same time – but on different dates)
  • Resource
  • Date of first flight
  • Date of last flight
  • Day of week
  • Departure time
  • Arrival time
  • Total people
  • Total distance
  • Total hours flown
  • Total fuel burned

Unravel the complexity to FIFO Management

The work we have done for companies such as Arrow, Origin, QGC, BMA, IBS, and Santos has shown us that despite having FIFO problems, they all required different approaches in order to achieve the right result.

This has demonstrated to us that when approaching a FIFO problem, where so many different variables have to be considered depending on the client, a standard approach (Commercial off the shelf product) and excel models will generally struggle with the complexity.

Having a tool built around specific variables demonstrates the benefits to bespoke solutions for FIFO problems.

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People Logistics in oil and gas

The role of people logistics in oil and gas projects

Efficient and effective logistics is vital to large Oil & Gas projects – equipment must be transported to work sites and raw products need to be processed and then delivered to customers, often using multiple modes of transport in a complex supply chain. In addition to this complexity, another important part of the overall logistics problem is people logistics – How do we move personnel to and from a worksite both safely and efficiently?

Why should I invest in personnel?

Particularly in Australia, where many work sites exist in remote areas, it is not always feasible to relocate employees and their families to a town near the work site. As a result, many workforce personnel are employed on a fly-in fly-out (FIFO) or bus-in bus-out (BIBO) basis, where the employer is responsible for moving personnel to and from the work site.

A 2013 report from Ernst & Young indicated that human capital deficit is one of the top ten risks facing the global Oil & Gas industry, affirming that

as the sector develops technologically . . . companies that can retain and mobilize people will be able to sustain their competitive advantage.

Effective and efficient personnel mobilization is crucial to any significant oil and gas project. Research published in 2012 by the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) into the prevalence of FIFO in Australia predicts that percentage of Australian mining sector jobs filled by FIFO roles will only increase over the coming years.

Improper workforce utilisation increases susceptibility to many internal and external issues, such as: a high employee turnover, high ongoing operational costs to the business, and under- or over-allocation of staff to specific jobs.

Analytics to cut through complexity

People logistics for a large project requires the coordination of travel and accommodation for hundreds, sometimes thousands of people in various remote locations. As with traditional logistics, several crucial decisions have to be made including BIBO vs FIFO, choice of airports or bus routes and staff roster schedules. In addition to this complexity, working with personnel often requires much greater scrutiny – we don’t always require a minimal-cost solution – we need to balance cost, project risk, employee safety and employee satisfaction.

Trying to weigh up all these variables and make decisions in an intelligent way for all of the personnel involved in a project very quickly becomes complex. A 2014 interview by Mining Australia notes that “for many companies [workforce management] is man­ual, or only semi-automated, which increases the risk of error or processing in­efficiencies, increasing costs”. Managing a large workforce is difficult, and only with the right technology can companies provide efficient and effective workforce management.

Through analytics companies can cut through the complexity involved in workforce management. By considering specific variables and how they affect outcomes companies can make better decisions.

Analytics empowers organisations through quantitative justification so that decision makers can be certain that employees will be spending less time in transit, and working on the right jobs at the right times, with the right people.

Biarri and People Logistics

Biarri delivers consulting and SaaS solutions to provide the right technology to enable effective workforce management.

Biarri has a proven track record, delivering people logistics and FIFO solutions for Oil & Gas and Mining companies in Australia including Santos, BMA, and Arrow Energy.

To learn more about how Biarri can help your organisation benefit from analytics and optimisation for people logistics get in touch today!