Pat Schilling
BA, Architecture, UC Berkeley

Jennifer Holmes
BA, Business Administration

Terry Schilling
VP Marketing & Sales
MBA, UC Berkeley

Colleen Mackling
Quality Manager
Schedule Administration

tugboat and cargo1

Tugboats: We admire them

Tugboats have a well-earned reputation for managing assets much larger than their size. Worldwide, tugboats delivers strategic services to the companies they engage with. For this, they are regarded highly.

Rather than a company name that’s an impersonal techno cypher, your crew prefers identifying with a physical object that does real work.

Mission Statement

  • Integration of production planning with fully optimized HR scheduling.
  • Simplifying hour-to-hour workforce scheduling operations.
  • Optimizing the scheduling of all your employees.
  • Lower the cost of operations.

The Customer’s Mission is Our Mission

  1. Automating all of your scheduling procedures.
  2. Applying Tugboat’s proprietary optimization.
  3. Offering nearly a quarter of a century’s experience delivering these services.

The Problem: ERP – HRM Systems Gap

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems, put simply, automate processes in supply chain management. Human Resource Management (HRM) systems manage HR functions. Both systems rely on a finite set of resources – people, equipment and parts. There is some overlap between these systems, but neither system focuses on assigning labor resources in an optimal manner to control labor costs.

On any given day, production or service facilities have only a given number of available workers. By contrast, ERP systems assume resources are available up to an infinite quantity.  Early in our development, Tugboat realized that, given the array of HR variables, from availability, skills, preferences, that a Finite Capacity Scheduling mathematical model would assign the maximum number of employees with the available staff at hand.

Newsletters – Learned from our Customers

Newsletter March 27 - Operations Manager's Bad Day

Operations Manager’s Bad Day

With responsibilities for full operation, does anything like this ever happen? A storm hits and key workforce players are not going to make it in, or. A production line goes down. Or ,,, Whatever the reason, you’re under pressure to reschedule the workforce. NOW! In a perfect world, you’d want to recreate only the part of the schedule where the change is going to hit. Then leave the rest of the schedule as is. Well, with Tugboat’s solution you can.

“Recovery” is a specially designed feature that offers both a global view of your entire operation and a surgeon’s precision for making last minute changes. It enables you to select just those elements that must be rescheduled. The remainder of your schedule, after all the push-and-shove needed to build it, is untouched. Designed for fighting fires, Recovery works on any schedule designated either pending or current, for either today or tomorrow.

You can work at several levels. Select a shift, department, sub-department, group, or line(s). You can drill down to the level of individual jobs.

At any level, you can:

• “Clear” elements that won’t to be available in the new schedule

• “Lock” elements to the existing schedule so they stay as initially scheduled, and

• “Redo” any element that needs to be rescheduled.

Not to be overlooked, you can select classes of resources that will be needed to fill the new schedule: volunteers, overtime, on call, reserves, temporaries. The new selections are color coded making them easy to verify and list for making those last minuet calls.

When you are happy and ready to commit those proposed changes, select Tugboat’s “Regenerate Schedule” button, and watch business roll ahead. The relief is that you don’t have to juggle everybody in the workforce. With Tugboat’s tools, a re-schedule in critical areas will work just fine.

Newsletter Feb 24 - Schedule's Dreams Come True

Schedulers’ Dreams Come True

One of Tugboat’s manufacturing customers recently installed a new production line. Management then invited their over 400 person workforce to bid on 96 new job assignments. In the past, with a workforce of over 400, this was an administrative nightmare.  Workers had to fill out individual bid sheets. Before awarding new bid jobs, management sorted them in seniority order. Then came bumping. Then came listing jobs that had to be re-bid. They’d do it all over again.

Tugboat automates this entire process with our staffing level planning tool that. Management plans the number of needed jobs. Tugboat’s solution posts the new jobs to a job bidding window that’s available to all employees. In fact, today this is available through our mobile version. Employees bid anywhere any time. The bids stay open for a time set by management. Employees can cancel and prioritize their bids. When the bidding period closes, all bids are processed automatically. Paper? None.

“In the past”, the scheduler explains, “it took over 2 months by hand.  Tugboat got us through this a lot faster and with more accuracy. A planner’s dreams come true”.

How do you manage when your workforce increases or decreases? How about the simple case when an individual leaves and you want to offer their job for bidding to the balance of your workforce? This should be as easy as posting it on their mobile device.

Newsletter Jan 24 - Consider Employee Credits

Want to improve employee Retention?
Consider Employee Credits. 

A Tugboat Software feature, employee credits track and distribute certain job benefits amongst your employees. Credits are granted an employee in acknowledgement of positive productive behavior. For example, credits can be granted for:


  • Perfect attendance over a period of time
  • Volunteering for overtime
  • Completing a safety class.
  • Offering Productivity suggestions


After accumulating a certain credit balance, the employee’s benefit could be as fabulous as a partial or entire day off with pay. Or, positive credits can be used to offset an absentee event or, equalize overtime.

At a basic level, Credits simply rank employees in a queue based on your HR policies. Some Tugboat Software customers use them to ensure that the demand for forced overtime doesn’t fall unfairly on the same group of employees. Others use it to distribute voluntary overtime – with its increased pay – more equitably to all employees. Here’s another example: By giving employees a credit for overtime worked, across any group of employees they can be used to keep one’s overtime in step with others.

Managing Credits is an example of an HR task that would be a nightmare if done with spread sheets. With Tugboat Software’s scheduling solution, this employee reward feature is fully automated and easily managed. It enforces your policies on a shift-by-shift basis where labor allocation, absences, PTO, automated overtime, all intersect.

Served by Tugboat


“I have been using Tugboat for more than 5 years now and I love the convenience it provides! The support has been awesome!! They are quick to respond and will work with you to resolve any issues. This software is user friendly. Definitely 5 stars!!”

Systems Analyst, Packaging Manufacturer