Worker Fatigue

Workforce Fatigue Management

It was around two years ago that Anita knew that she’d had enough. However, the ensuing two years had passed so quickly repeating the same task over and over again. 

So here she was again.

Anita is the workforce manager at a company which manages a large temporary, contracted, part time and/or casual workforce. They carry out a set of known tasks, some of which require qualifications, many of which don’t. In any given week, she will be juggling her Excel sheet and a phone to desperately contact replacements for people who call in sick that day while ensuring that any replacement doesn’t violate any of their strict fatigue requirements. 

Although fast paced, it’s not the type of fast paced that she had hoped for as most of it was trying to carry out tasks which can be easily automated. So why not automate?

The reality with Anita’s work is that it can be automated and there do exist tools which can do most of her job and actually make both her as well as her rostered employees’ lives better. Anita could spend less time manually carrying out error prone tasks and, simultaneously, her rostered employees could get the shifts they want – meaning less work for Anita having to offboard unhappy employees.

By automating the error prone and repetitive tasks, this would leave Anita more time to more accurately cost up rostering jobs, better manage her staff so the good people keep coming back and focus on more strategic aspects of rostering.

The dream state.

Biarri’s Workforce Fatigue Management Rostering Tool

Biarri’s Workforce rostering tool was built to solve problems exactly like Anita’s. It was designed for companies which have built their success off the back of flexible Excel sheets, however, have now outgrown them. The tool excels when the workforce has become too large or too variable and the rules too complex to efficiently allocate people to the required work in a way that keeps everyone happy.

This was a situation faced by one of Biarri’s partners, Field Mining Services. Their process was Excel driven like most companies in the region and required a lot of manual work and time intensive copy of data between spreadsheets. 

In addition, customer rules/regulations and reporting obligations were a major pain point, with countless hours spent working with Excel and Word to create reports manually. 

However, the real pain point arose when you had many users working in a single Excel spreadsheet causing significant errors and delays for the team who were trying to understand who made the change which broke everything.

These challenges triggered a roster to invoice overhaul which Biarri assisted to complete by configuring its workforce tool to make it optimally suited to FMS’ situation.

The team at Biarri were fantastic to work with. They really listened to the pain points of our business and delivered a fit solution.” – Field Mining Services

Workforce Fatigue Management Tool Capabilities

At its core Biarri’s Workforce tool is built to take the complexity out of rostering by allowing a powerful optimisation engine to do the high quality rostering for you. The engine automatically and dynamically creates compliant and desirable rosters. 

When creating the rosters, the engine takes into account fatigue and EBA requirements. The EBA and fatigue management capabilities are able to take into account things like enforced breaks after working certain periods depending on: 

  1. Location
  2. Type of work
  3. Time of work
  4. Length of work
  5. And more 

As well as many other similar rule types.

Biarri’s Workforce tool allows the bespoke configuration of a rich set of constraints suitable to any industry. When it comes to managing a highly flexible workforce (comprising many part timers, casuals and contractors), the engine can optimally look at options and do things like sharing employees across locations to improve flexibility. The benefits are:

  1. Smooth out demand, and the resulting work, to better distribute tasks to people who don’t have enough work to do in one location or too much in another
  2. Resolve skill mix requirements at a location where key skills are missing
  3. Reduce the amount of onboarding, hiring and redundancies of staff due to more flexible use of staff
  4. Create a better employee experience by creating the flexibility to cater to staff needs
  5. And more

The functional user interface allows the easy management of flexible and continually changing rosters for staff, for example, when employees call in sick.

As well as being capable of catering to complex work requirements, the tool employs modern web based technologies to integrate seamlessly via REST APIs into payroll and T&A tools. This means you can avoid complex integrations and replacements of existing tools. 

The Biarri Workforce Rostering Application integrates into any stack with predefined interfaces.

Typical Outcomes

So what are the benefits of using optimisation and automation to do your rostering? For customers like Field Mining Services it is:

  • Better workforce fatigue management
  • A complete understanding of the value chain from mine to port
  • Substantially increased compliance with site specific access rules including fatigue, D&As, and site specific qualifications.
  • Increased visibility of workforce fatigue across multiple job sites.
  • Significantly reduced overall administration effort
  • The ability to tackle the next phase of growth with certainty around one of the most challenging areas – staff and fatigue management
  • Transparency across all departments and a single source of truth.

In other industries we have also seen benefits with improved employee engagement and experience by being able to take into account employee preferences and desires and then automatically catering to these needs. This leads to employers becoming employers of choice and staff bringing their experience and good habits back to your organisation instead of another casual staff provider. 

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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:

  • 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)

  • 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

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

  • 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:

  • 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

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

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

  • 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 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.

Find out more about Biarri in Mining >>
Find out more about Biarri in Oil & Gas >>
Find out more about Biarri and FIFO Scheduling >>

Or, Get in contact so we can discuss your requirements.