Preferential Bidding System - Crew Scheduling Methods - PBS - Interactive PBS

Interactive PBS

Dynamic and interactive PBS, in contrast, changes the process of bidding into a "continuous" process, where crew members can see the status of other crew member bids reflected as they bid. The web-based presentation of this live and continuous schedule status is currently (as of January 2013) a patent pending process of Christian Boegner. It is this live awareness which allows crew members to bid realistically because they see and can only bid for trips and days off that are available to them at their seniority at any given time. Although the airlines Bid Period extends over a number of days each month, this Live PBS creates a fully complete and legal solution at all times during the bid period, right to the end. In the end the schedule which is solved is very efficient since crew members submit the preferences free of conflict with the other crew members, though not their best interests. It gives every crew member the "highest satisfaction". It is a relatively new approach. As of February 2011, it is believed that Crewing Solutions based in California, founded by Christian Boegner and Kernel Software used by Lufthansa use this real-time interactivity in PBS.

Boegner, an expert in heuristic algorithms, is regarded as the "Father of PBS" having introduced the concept in the 1970s and eventually implemented in SmartPref, the Crewing Solutions product. There is competing school of thought that linear logic is the best approach to solving the "problem" efficiently. The company SBS, he headed, installed over 100 scheduling systems with airlines. SBS was eventually sold to Boeing.

This dynamic real-time PBS uses heuristic algorithm running as a hosted web application offers live current status of other crew members bids during the bidding process. A crew member designates their preferences, both globally and specifically, based on seeing real availability at that moment, at their seniority. These choices are submitted as a "bid" for trips and work days. The PBS then assesses these new preferences based on the status of the solution at that point in time, and immediately builds a new schedule/solution, and presents this in the web based GUI to any viewing crew member. That solution combines a bidding crew member's preferences with the existing data to create the pairings and to generate the best quality crewing solution available at the time they bid. The PBS attempts to determine what is in the bidders best interest based on those preferences previously input and continues to consider all crew member preferences throughout the remaining bidding window.

As bidders continue to enter bids, the schedule begins to take shape. In the LIVE PBS environment a crew member can return to view the status of their choices at any time. They can elect to change their preferences and resubmit them if the environment has changed such that they now wish to try to improve their situation. During the bidding process, in order to have a realistic line, crew member has to constantly adjust his bids until all his senior crew members finalize their bids. Some crew members will come back later after bidding and see a less desirable line mainly due to overriding conflicts with the senior crew members. In these cases the bidding crew member must change his preferences until he bids what he CAN get and until he gets a line which is also compatible with the data at hand by compromising his interests.

The interactive PBS gives the problem of solving conflicted interests to crew members which leads to a much simpler design in system in comparison to a conventional PBS. The resulting bid is considered optimal in that the bid preference parameters are the most accurate and efficient with respect to constraints and preferences at the present state of the solution and the seniority of the crew member. However, at the beginning of the bid period even before choices or bids are made, a reliable initial base solution must be generated from the standby or default bids, of each crew member. Although at this initial stage, the results are far from real, in the end when every one submits their bids, the results will become realistic.

Without a LIVE PBS's interactive recalculation during the bid period, if crew members bid for certain pairings and/or days off heavily over others, at the end of the bid period either an advanced, time consuming algorithm needs to be implemented to solve the resultant conflicts automatically, or manual manipulation is used to fill the "open time" (unassigned pairings).

With the live interactive PBS, it only offers "left over" pairings to crew members and naturally forces the crew members to cover them with the advantage knowing of what their schedule will likely be.

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