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New Feature for Build From Previous

04 January

Build A Day

Happy New Year everyone! We released a highly requested feature for building a new day in ParaPlan. Our ‘Build From Previous’ tool now has the option labeled ‘G’ in the attached screenshot, allowing the user to copy the custom times used for each matching trip on date ‘B’. This allows users to better utilize the exact stop order and detailed sequencing used previously.

Screenshot Legend:
A – Select Day, the date to build (or re-build)
B – Previous Date (optional), the date to use as a template for building
C – Copy Route Structure (optional), brings all the routes used on the previous date to the date being built
D – Copy Driver Assignments (optional), copies the driver assignments from the previous date to the date being built
E – Copy Start/End Times (optional), copies each route’s start and end time assignments from the previous date to the date being built
F – Copy Route Assignments (optional), copies each trip’s route assignment from the previous date to the date being built. Only if trip (or subscription) is active and details matched on both days.
G* NEW! – Copy PU and DO Times (optional), copies each trip’s previously used pick up time and drop off time designation from the previous date to the date being built.

Search by PO or InvoiceID

17 June

Recently, we added the ability to include PO numbers or other reference text with invoices. Today, we added the ability to search on this new data field.

To use, click All Elements > Invoices > Search By ID or Ref. As the name suggests, it will also search on the InvoiceID field. The returned results will include exact searches on InvoiceID and pattern searches on Reference. 

Geo-fence scheduling with ParaPlan

09 June

Routeann

 

Geo-fencing is a powerful tool in scheduling trips. ParaPlan uses geo-fences called zones to label specific geographic areas. Recently, we talked about how to create zones from GPX files and how to create zones from a city name. Today, we are going to talk about how zones can be used during autoschedule to keep vehicles working in a specific region of the service area.

As a recap, zones restrict routes to only perform trips that start and stop in that zone. A route labeled North that is set up around downtown and northern suburbs would not be eligible to perform a trip for Mrs. Jones on the south side of the city. Eligible means that ParaPlan will not auto schedule Mrs. Jones to a route in the North zone. It also means that the reservation for Mrs. Jones will not include North routes on the quick trip assignment. Only routes that contain south side zones OR no zone at all will be in the route drop down list on the reservation screen. This is a new feature in ParaPlan and will greatly reduce scheduling errors during the reservation intake phase.

We typically see three different types of trips, geographically speaking. Service-based trips, needs-based trips and out of town trips.

Service

Servicebased

Service-based trips would cover trips to the grocery store, bank, or the drugstore. These trips are short in distance and short in duration. Usually they occur within the bounds of a single city. Quite frequently, it makes the most the sense for the driver to wait for the client to finish their business, then take them back home. When setting up a zone to perform service-based trips, a good design would encompass the residential and commercial areas of a city or suburban area.

Needs

Need based

Needs-based trips typically transport a client to a specialized facility. This could be a daycare or dialysis center. Generally, these places are centrally located and serve individuals from a large region. To set up zones to service these trips, include several known residential areas and the central downtown district.

Out of town

Out of town trips can have zones if the situation calls for it. If there are frequent trips to a facility over 50 miles away then creating a zone that encompasses both areas would make sense. Otherwise, just don’t assign a zone to a route. This will make the route eligible to perform any trip.

Smarter scheduling

By knowing the kinds of trips being performed, users can set up a medley of service-based and needs-based routes to efficiently schedule a large batch of trips. This will keep vehicles working in a very specific region. It is much better for drivers to stay in familiar areas. If they are comfortable driving the bus and appear relaxed, the passengers will also feel more comfortable. We understand how important this is for special needs transportation.

Add PO numbers to Invoices

29 May

Amazon WorkSpaces

Invoices often have purchase orders or billing codes that the recipient needs to record when processing the invoice. We have just added support for this in ParaPlan Billing.

When generating a new invoice, enter the billing code or PO into the Reference field and we will display that value on the invoice. We will also remember this Reference and associated it with the funding source. This means the next time an invoice is generated for that funding source, the Reference field will be pre-populated.

Happy invoicing!

Create simple geofences based on city

21 May

 

Screenshot 2014 05 21 22 34 43

In our last post, we talked about creating complex geofences by drawing on a map and how that will keep routes working in a specific location. As a simpler alternative we also support geofences based on a city.

Simply create a new zone called “City of Gaffney” and that will keep any routes that are assigned to that zone working only in that city. A common workflow would be to have several routes assigned to the “City of Gaffney” zone that would do all the in-city trips and then several additional routes that are not assigned to any zone that would be eligible to perform the trips that go out of the city limits.

A slightly more complicated example would be the Greenville metro where there are urban and suburban cities. For these cases, we support zones with multiple cities. An agency in this area would have zones that looked like:

“City of Greenville, Mauldin,Simpsonville, Fountain Inn” – This would take people from the south side to downtown.
“City of Greenville, Powdersville, Easley” – This would bring people in from the west side.
“City of Greenville, Taylors, Greer”  – This would cover all the east side trips.
“City of Greenville, Travelers Rest” – This would be for trips to and from the north side of town.

This feature is an easy way to keep vehicles working in the same place, where they are most familiar, instead of spreading them all over the service area. This is good for the drivers and a good way to save on gas. 

How to create a geofence from GPX

21 May

Addgeofence

We are almost done with a feature in ParaPlan Desktop that will allow route planners to set up geofences around their routes to keep them working in a specific area of town. In preparation for that, we have added support for direct importing of GPX files to create the geofences.

Here is a quick tutorial:

  1. On the sidebar, click All Elements, then Zones.
  2. In the Zone Finder, click New Zone. A blank zone window will open up.
  3. Open a web browser and navigate to http://www.gpsvisualizer.com/draw/
  4. Click the Track button on the right-side toolbox.
  5. Click on the map to create the geofence. Be sure to circle back to the first point and click it to complete the shape.
  6. Click the GPX button on the right-side toolbox. This will generate a link to a GPX file that can be downloaded to the computer.
  7. Back to ParaPlan and the new Zone window, click Bulk Lat/Long insert, then click Import GPX file. Select the file that was downloaded in step 6.
  8. Label the new Zone.
  9. Click Save and Close.

Route planners can now assign routes to the Zone, and ParaPlan will only schedule trips in that area to that route.

Smarter batch autoscheduling with ParaPlan

13 May

20140513-223501.jpg

We released a new feature in ParaPlan Desktop that makes it easier to selectively automatically assign trips to routes. This means that if there is a route that is reserved for performing callbacks or just for long runs, you can prevent trips from being automatically scheduled to that route.

To prevent a route from being eligible for autoschedule, simply minimize the route and it will become hidden from the main view and will not have any trips autoscheduled to it.

Single-trip autoscheduling will continue to show all routes that could be used even if they are minimized.

New Invoicing features for ParaPlan Desktop

01 May

 

Amazon WorkSpaces

We have added two new features to our billing and invoicing system that make it more powerful than ever. 

Export to Excel

Data portability is so important. Information moves faster than ever these days. Removing manual data entry means that you can work more quickly and with fewer mistakes. ParaPlan already supports automatic importing of trips from popular trip brokerage providers like LogistiCare, Southeastrans, MTM and others. We also support exporting to Excel for all of our custom queries and many of our 100+ custom reports. This means that you can print a nicely formatted report that displays your ridership statistics or you can export a data-only file to feed into other systems.

We extended this Excel functionality to Invoices today. This is very exciting as it allows our clients to create raw Excel files that can be uploaded into 3rd party systems for quicker and more accurate payments.

Automation gets us giddy. Now our clients can perform the following workflow for trips from acceptance to payment without entering a single piece of data!

-Dispatcher Claire downloads new batch trip import file from brokerage.

-Claire imports trips into ParaPlan. Not a single name, address nor time has to be typed.

-Claire uses ParaPlan Autoschedule to determine the best routes for the new imported trips.

-Driver Joe gets an alert on his iPad that he has new trips to perform and starts his route.

-As Joe performs his trips, he swipes on his iPad to mark that he picked up and dropped off his clients. ParaPlan Mobile automatically keeps track of his odometer and the times that he performed the trips. Now Joe doesn’t have to write anything down, so he can focus on getting to his stops safely and on time. If a client isn’t there, he can No-Show them directly from his iPad.

-At the end of the day, Claire opens up ParaPlan Invoicing. She can select all the trips that were done today (and the No-Shows if she desires) and generate an Excel file of the actual times, odometers and any other information the brokerage may request for payments. We can even capture a client signature for Claire.

-The Excel file is uploaded to the broker for quick and easy payments.

Multiple Invoice Templates

Previously, users had to go through the hassle of changing the default system Invoice template if they wanted to generate differently formatted invoices. Now it is as simple as selecting the template you’d like to use before clicking the print button. Of course, your default template is pre-selected, so no extra clicks are needed to perform normal invoicing. 

Find out more

Today, we made our software easier and removed manual steps in our client’s workflow. If you would like to learn more about how EnGraph can simplify your Paratransit or NEMT operation, contact us or call Kyle at 913-735-6651.

 

ParaPlan Desktop improvements to autoschedule

24 March

We added several new features to ParaPlan Desktop this week that make auto-scheduling a large batch of trips more powerful, more accurate and more flexible.

Set MPH for different road types

Based on the length of the trip, we are able to make certain assertions about what types of roads the driver is on between their origin and destination and apply smarter time calculations.

We have five new settings that give our clients a high level of control over their travel time estimations.

-MPH on minor city roads. The default is 17 MPH.
-MPH on major city roads. The default is 30 MPH.
-MPH on highways and limited access roads. The default is 55 MPH.
-Average distance spent on minor city roads. The default is .3 miles, or about four blocks.
-Average distance spent on major city roads. The default is 2 miles. 

Mphs

For example, a typical trip in an urban environment that is ten miles in length is going to start at the client’s house. It will be about four blocks on minor neighborhood roads before reaching a major city street. Once the driver is out of the neighborhood, it will take about two miles to get to the closest limited access highway or interstate. The driver will spend 5.4 miles on the speedier road type before getting off on an exit, driving two miles on a major city road and then another 4 blocks on minor streets to take the client to their destination. 

Different agencies have different geographic footprints, and having the ability to fine-tune all these settings means an agency can expect extremely accurate time estimations. For example, because smaller towns lack major roads, a mostly rural agency will set minor road distance to a larger value and set major city roads to a smaller value. A client in a city with well laid out limited access roads like Minneapolis might set the major road distance to .75 or 1 since the driver will be able to spend the majority of a trip on a highway.

Fine-tuned time windows

ParaPlan uses the concept of Time Windows to help our auto-schedule algorithm determine if a trip can be performed on a route. For example, if Betty has a 10:00 AM appointment and it takes her 5 minutes to get off the bus (dwell time), the latest we can drop Betty off is 9:55 AM. To extend that example, if it is a 30 minute trip, then the latest we can pick her up is 9:20 AM (5 min boarding, 30 min travel, 5 min alighting) for the 10:00 AM appointment. It is obviously not very efficient to pick up Betty and drop her off exactly on time, so we have different variables like Riding Constant and Deviation Time to allow a rider to be on the bus a little bit longer in order to accomplish ride sharing. These variables then create the Time Windows. 

So back to our 10:00 AM appointment. To extend this example a little further, let’s say we have a 15 minute Deviation Time. We can deviate from the scheduled Pick Up or Drop Off time by that 15 minutes. A client can be picked up a little early so the vehicle can do other work with the client on the bus. So our Pick Up Time Windows would be 9:05 AM – 9:20 AM and the Drop Off Time Windows would be 9:40 AM – 9:55 AM. This gives the bus more flexibility to perform other PU or DO stops as they have a window to hit rather than an exact time.

These variables help, but they don’t allow for late drop offs or prevent too-early pick ups, which are common requests. So we added four new variables to help give further control over Time Windows.

-Amount can be late for Pick Up requests and still be considered on time.
-Amount can be early for Pick Up requests.
-Amount can be late for Drop Off requests (Appointments) and still be considered on time.
-Amount can be early for Drop Off requests (Appointments).

If we were to take Betty’s appointment and apply a 5 minute “Can be late for DO” and a 15 minute “Can be early for DO”.  Her Drop Off Time Windows would be 9:40 AM – 10:00 AM. The astute reader will point out that a 10:00 AM drop off isn’t 5 minutes late at all and we would be getting her there right on time. They would be mostly correct, except that it takes Betty 5 minutes to get off the bus, so if we get to the front door at 10:00 AM, it still takes her 5 minutes to get off the bus and into the facility, which would make her Drop Off time 10:05 AM.

Another example would be Ann’s pick-up request of 3:00 PM. We will also assume she has a 5 minute dwell time. If we have a 60 minute PU early time and 15 minute PU late time, the bus could arrive at any time between 1:55 PM and 3:10 PM and still be considered valid.

Max riding time

Extending Time Windows to allow for maximum ride sharing is great, but it is equally important to control the amount of time a specific client can be on a bus. We have a new setting that allows users to set the maximum minutes that a client will be on a bus. Obviously, we can’t apply time changes to trips that are actually longer than the maximum ride time, so if we encounter a riding time greater than allowed by an agency, we will leave it unscheduled and require a dispatcher to manually assign that ride to a bus.

 

EnGraph announces partnership with REI

30 January

Rei

EnGraphMaster

 

EnGraph is pleased to announce a partnership with REI, a leader in the transportation industry for over 75 years. This partnership will allow us to incorporate their wide range of transportation products into our software solutions.

What is going to change?

Current users of ParaPlan Desktop or ParaPlan for iOS will start to see additional functionality as we add support for REI products. For example, our Client screen has a new video option as we begin the integration with REI’s on-board video recording devices.

Will I have to use a new version of ParaPlan?

ParaPlan Desktop and ParaPlan for iOS will continue to perform and look as they always have. As we add new features, they will contain the same powerful simplicity that is so important to us.

I saw Kyle at a trade show and he had an REI badge. Does he still work at EnGraph?

Kyle is still an owner and partner at EnGraph. Since REI has such a tremendous reputation in the industry, EnGraph is now able to have access to a much larger customer base. EnGraph completes the mobility offering of REI software and Kyle will occasionally represent REI to reach the potential clients where mobility is just a portion of an agency’s need.

So no changes at EnGraph?

No changes. Kyle and Tim are still owners and partners. Brett is still project manager and is coming up on three years with us. There will not be any employee nor assignment changes due to this partnership.

I’m excited. I spend too much time switching between software applications to manage my transit agency.

We are excited too! And we hear you regarding multiple applications. As computers become more useful in our industry, half of the battle can be figuring out your workflow and making sure you have all your needs met. One small missing piece means additional software to pay for, learn and maintain. Or worse yet, another Excel sheet to populate. REI and EnGraph are committed to making your life easier and look to solve these problems with tight integrations and smarter interfaces.

The full press release is below and can be downloaded here:

PRESS RELEASE


For Immediate Release

Lenexa, Kansas, January 29, 2014 – Tim Hibbard, CEO of EnGraph Software, announces the formation of a partnership between EnGraph and Radio Engineering Industries Inc. (REI) to provide a complete suite of intelligent transportation and mobile asset management solutions; including Fixed Route CAD/AVL, Automatic Passenger Counting (APC), Paratransit Scheduling and Billing software, Mobile Data Terminals (MDT), electronic manifests, traveler information websites, Passenger Information and Display Systems (PIDS), mobile video surveillance, vehicle monitoring and diagnostics, and more, to the transit industry.


Radio Engineering Industries (REI) provides a variety of safety solutions: mobile video surveillance, GPS/AVL tracking solutions, camera observation systems and audio/video equipment.  REI prides itself on designing, manufacturing, and servicing customer friendly electronic products for the school, transit, motor coach, shuttle and agriculture industries.  Founded in 1938, REI continues its history of service, quality and value every day.  EnGraph Software, founded in 1999, is a software development firm specializing in paratransit scheduling, reporting, billing and digital dispatching systems throughout the United States.


Darwin Rubeck, REI Vice President of Software and Business Services, called the partnership with EnGraph Software “a terrific opportunity to complete our intelligent transportation systems offering and to bring Paratransit expertise to our team.”  Tim Hibbard, EnGraph CEO, is “thrilled to join forces with a nearby midwestern technology company like REI and I know that our proven ParaPlan® demand-response management system is a perfect fit into REI’s A.R.M.O.R.® ITS software applications and component hardware” and further “this is a great step forward for both REI and EnGraph.”


For more information please contact Kyle Archer, Director of Sales, at 913-735-6651.