During the day he notices a vibration through the steering column and reports it on his touchscreen console. When he arrives at the yard at the end of the shift he is directed to the next available revenue drop, then given instructions and a map about where to park.
The dispatcher has already defined the route requirements when the day starts. Each route has been flagged with vehicle requirements: one route through the city center, for example, requires a hybrid bus with a particular vinyl wrap advertising an upcoming movie. When all of the route requirements are defined, the auto-dispatch module takes a few moments to allocate buses to routes based on the bus type and configuration, maintenance status and position in the yard.
During the pullout process one driver reports a flat tire, immediately activating the auto-dispatch module. The bus is flagged for maintenance pickup and the entire remaining dispatch plan is redone to ensure that the correct buses still pull out on time and onto the correct routes. Account is taken of the fact that the disabled bus is now blocking all buses in the row behind it, and all affected drivers get their revised bus assignments on their mobile devices.
At end of day, maintenance reports one bus has a critical fault causing a steering vibration and the estimated repair time is 22 hours. The auto-dispatch module updates the pullout plan, and the auto parking module adjusts its parking assignments for the rest of the buses to ensure minimum overnight shuffling.
The maintenance worker gets an alert on his mobile device that a bus has a flat tire and is directed to its location. The wheel can be changed on-site, and when complete he registers the fault as rectified and the auto-dispatch system reincorporates that vehicle into its plan.
Later that day he receives another alert directing him to the right location to pick up a bus with a steering column vibration. When he starts the bus he is notified that diesel pump #3 happened to be free and is directed to take the opportunity to fill the tank. When he arrives at the pump, the bus identity and type is automatically registered and the pump activated since the fuel type is a match. When full, the pump flags the bus as refueled and records the amount of diesel used into the bus’s record.
So, how far into the future is the vision of the smart yard? The building blocks are already in place and software applications are maturing rapidly. The fundamental foundation of location systems and data integration are already available, with the automation modules either already available or in development.