Data driven shift creation for Air Traffic Controllers

Airways is New Zealand’s air navigation service provider. Airways controls all domestic and international air traffic travelling within New Zealand’s Flight Information Region (FIR), which totals 30 million square kilometres – one of the largest areas of airspace in the world.

The Business Challenge

Airways New Zealand is renowned globally for leading innovation and development in the aviation sector. 780+ staff deliver air navigation and air traffic management consultancy and training services throughout New Zealand and in over 65 countries.

Airways wanted to create a data-driven set of optimal shifts for air traffic controllers, to maximise operational efficiency whilst maintaining safety. Harmonic was engaged to apply specialised analytical expertise to assist in the air traffic control rostering process.

The Solution

Harmonic developed a software solution for Airways, to analyse coverage and workload data to create an optimal set of shifts. Various data sets were used to benchmark the tool across five different roster groups, each with different traffic and coverage requirements.

The solution includes building a complete suite of shifts that could be applied for Air Traffic Controller rosters which are optimised from safety, productivity and efficiency perspectives. Traffic demand, workforce constraints, and required staffing levels are taken into account so the optimised shifts are practically deployable. By constructing the shifts through this process, an increased level of confidence has been achieved - that efficiency gains can be made through increased productivity and service safety without additional cost.

Key Features – The the software solution incorporates:

  • Workload Analysis
  • A dashboard – For quick data visualisation - graphics and plots, to help with validation and vision
  • A shift modeller (using linear programming techniques)

This innovative solution allows Airways to not only view their data but to move into a world where the ‘what if’ questions can be answered. Airways can quickly view key details such as, the minimum number of shifts, the optimal numbers of shifts, the optimal hours per shift and any potential downtime that could be used for other tasks and to maximise utilisation.

In collaboration with Airways, Harmonic data scientists finely tuned the analytics to bring insight into where further opportunities may be. For example, the data analysis and visualisation combined with the shift modeller was used to accelerate the consolidation of workload across two units based in Christchurch.


A key operational and planning tool

This comprehensive solution helps Airways to maximise the value and application of their data – and plan for the future.

  1. Valuable insights to inform decision making
  2. Time savings - previously the process was more manual and time consuming.
  3. Identify areas for Operational efficiency improvements
  4. Reliable and accessible information – shared through a user friendly dashboard.
  5. Increased capability to analyse different options or constraints and plan for the future.

“We are now in a more powerful position to quickly analyse ‘what if’ scenarios for current and future operations.

We have a greater vision of our baseline and insight into where future opportunities may be, for improved service provision.”

Nigel Fitzhardinge, Manager Workforce Planning and Performance

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