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The automatic planning and sharing of business tasks and resources is constantly evolving. Advances in artificial intelligence make NEO Schedule, created by Axians, one of the most sophisticated software solutions in this area.

Task and resource planning can be a major headache for businesses. Optimising their management is often a constant challenge. Axians, the VINCI Energies ICT brand, has designed an innovative software solution that significantly enhances this essential activity for every organisation, including manufacturers.

Known as NEO Schedule, this tool automatically handles the planning of technical resources within a business: technicians, teams, tools, vehicles, etc. Its key strength lies is its implementation of bio-inspired artificial intelligence. “We use a genetic algorithm that starts by creating planning at random”, explains Alexander Wassiltschenko, Deputy BU Manager of NEO Suite Solutions at Axians. “These are then automatically modified incrementally depending on their outcomes. The most appropriate planning processes are then used to generate a new set of recommendations – and so on. You could say that NEO Schedule is inspired by the natural laws of evolution”.

The Axians software adapts to the objectives and priorities of each user group within the organisation. As Alexander Wassiltschenko says, “Some people need to complete tasks using the fewest possible resources, while some want to achieve a balanced use of all available resources. Others want to minimise time frames and distances travelled”. These objectives may conflict with each other.

From 10 hours to 10 minutes a day: a spectacular reduction in planning and dispatching time for a German manufacturer.

“The advantage of NEO Schedule is that we can adapt and configure the weighting of each of these parameters, and many others besides, so that each user can obtain optimal results according to their specific objectives and constraints”.

Organisational, financial and environmental benefits

On behalf of a customer (one of Germany’s largest slot machine manufacturers), Axians implemented its  NEO Schedule tool to automatically plan tasks for around a hundred technicians, via five dispatchers managing some 500 orders per day. This solution enabled them to reduce the time needed for planning and dispatching from 10 hours to just 10 minutes a day.

Another important benefit in environmental terms was a reduction from 32,000 kilometres travelled per day to around 26,000, with an equivalent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. For another customer specialising in household electricals and machinery for medical facilities, the installation of NEO Schedule enabled them to reduce the combined distance travelled by its technicians each month from 330,000 to 252,000 kilometres, reducing its carbon footprint accordingly. Their weekly travel time decreased from around 28 hours to 15 hours.

The performance gains that NEO Schedule created had one other benefit, namely that they gave dispatchers the ability to manage more resources and devote more time to tasks with greater added value. One of these may be to modify a given program gradually as information arrives back from agents in the field. This helps the NEO Schedule AI to further accelerate its process of optimisation by “natural selection”.