COMPUTER SCIENCE

DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF AN AUTOMATED QUEUE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF AN AUTOMATED QUEUE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Preamble

A queue is characterized by the way in which customers/persons (i.e. processes) join in order to wait for service, and by the way in which customers already in the queue are selected for servicing. Both of the activities are controlled by the queue manager. Thus, a queue management system (QMS) is a customer/client flow management system that allows the customer/client wait without having to stand in line.

Unfortunately, we cannot do away with queuing; its most fundamental form brings forth the advantage of fairness to customers/persons based on the order of arrival. Much time spent waiting in line is wasted because customers will be unable to do other useful things and as well be at ease while queuing; it is often tiring and a disagreeable thing standing in line doing nothing.

In other circumstances, it allows the provision of better services and/or the achievement of higher efficiency. In this way, queue management systems will help to provide comfort as well as fairness to customers by allowing them to maintain their position in the queue while seated comfortably or engaged in some constructive activities.

Queue management systems are perfect for banks, public dealing offices, health and care centres etc. where people have to wait in line to get any service. The problem of serving customers in a specific sequence at business or public establishments can be solved in many various ways; depending on available resources and technology, mechanical, electronic, computerized and human intervening systems can be designed and implemented.

1.2 Types of Queue

Over the years, queues been observed have gradually changed from conventional ways of people standing, waiting orderly in lines to be served at various public places, to people taking their place in queues as a result of tickets used to generate the number of position of people in the queue which allows them not to be physically present in the queuing area at times, and people now taking their places in queue without having to be in the queuing are or being there physically until it’s their turn to be served.

1.2.1    Physical Queue

This type of queue is commonly found in places such as an amusement park where there are formalized queue areas and people waiting in line are organized. This is one which people stand in line and are physically present. There may be dozens of separate queues, but this can lead to frustration as different lines tends to be handled at different speeds, some are served quickly while others may wait for longer periods of time. Another arrangement which is commonly found in banks is for everyone to wait in a single line, a person leaves the line each time a service point opens up.

1.2.2    Virtual Queue

This sometimes replaces the physical queuing; in a waiting room, there may be a system whereby the queuer asks and remembers his place in the queue, or reports to a desk and signs in or takes a ticket with a number from a machine. These queues are typically found at doctors’ offices, hospitals, etc. A display sometimes shows the number that was last called for service.

1.2.3    Mobile Queue

The physical and virtual queue suffer from a drawback, which is: the persons arrives at the location only to find out that they need to wait, but not with the mobile queue, it does not suffer this drawback as the person queuing uses his/her phone, the world wide web (www), and other methods to enter a virtual queue prior to arrival and is free to roam during the wait, and only get paged at his/her phone when his/her turn approaches. This method extends the patience of those in the queue and reduces no-shows and allows them to time their arrival to the availability of service.

1.3      Systems Designed for Queue Management

Depending on available resources and technology, various mechanical, electronic, computerized, and human intervening systems have been designed and implemented to control and management the flow of people and customers in various public dealing areas.

1.3.1     Mechanical Queue Management Systems (M-QMS)

This method employs the use of mechanically designed devices and machinesin queuing areas to control the flow management of persons. This method is usually found in amusement parks where the queue management system is integrated with the drives. It is also found in some transport managements systems where people board buses, trains, airplanes, ships and are also found in them.

Major features of this method is that, the type of queue found in such places is the physical queue; queue areas in which the lines of people waiting to board the rides or automobiles are organized by railings with barricades which when pushed to pass or leave the line energizes a counter integrated into the system, thus, helping to keep counts of the number of persons/ customers served.

1.3.2     Electronic Queue Management System (E-QMS)

This method of queue management is characterized by the use of electronic devices to manage the flow of customers or persons waiting in line to be served. A major feature of this type of queue management system is that, there is always an audio and/or flash light alert to let the next person know that he/she is ready to be served.

This method is best for places where the most type of queue realizable is the physical queue and at times virtual queuing, where such persons will be in the vicinity roaming or seated doing some other constructive activities while maintaining his/her position in the queue. This is implemented in places such as banks, airports, public dealing places and ticketing offices; also keeping the record of the number of customers or persons served.

1.3.3     Computerized Queue Management Systems (C-QMS)

The main feature of this method which makes it differ from the electronic queue management system is that, it has the ability to generate queue position numbers as well as ticket numbers to persons waiting in line. This method is most times implemented where the types of queuing practiced in such places are the virtual or/and the mobile queuing. It also keeps the record of the number of customers or persons served.

1.3.4     Human Intervening Queue Management System (HI-QMS)

This method of queue management is the very earliest method of customer flow in queue areas are managed and controlled. Its basic feature is the use of wardens to control the queue and maintain peace in the queue areas. In the enhanced form of this method of queue management, rails are used to guard and organize the traffic/flow of persons in queue areas.

1.4       Project Aim

The utmost purpose of designing an automated queue management system is to attempt making the wait as pleasant and as simple as possible, others include;

1.      To allow customers/persons wait without having to stand in line, once there is an alert, the next customer or person approaches the counter.

2.      It brings about fairness and comfort to persons based on the order of their arrival.

3.      It helps in tracking the number of customers/persons served. Thus, efficiency can be given by;

 

      η =     Arrival Rate

                Service Rate

And can be determined mathematically in terms of probability; where Arrival rate is the proportion of customers or a person arriving as scheduled to be served over a period of time and the Service rate is the proportion of persons or customers served over a specified period time scheduled per person.

1.5       Project Usage

The application of queue management systems is best for places such as banks, public dealing offices, airports, ticketing offices etc; places where people stand in queue to be served or attended to, on the principle of first come first served (where people are attended to based on their order of arrival).

1.6       Project Scope

The electronic queue management system (E-QMS) designed is to be implemented in areas where only physical queuing is practicable such as banks; though flexible to be used in various environments, is viewed to be of use or implemented in banking communities. According to banking operators’ requirements, different priorities is given to different types of services; it will be of best use to provide or achieve high efficiency when banking operations is customized on the concept that tellers are not dedicated for fixed type of services only.

The tellers may be idle when there is no customer to serve its type if dedicated for fixed type of services. This idle time can be minimized by enabling the teller to serve various services, thus achieving higher efficiency with customers/persons waiting in their seat with comfort doing constructive activities like reading of magazines, journals, surfing the internet with their mobile equipment, etc, while waiting in queue to be served.