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In the Blink of an Eye – Scalable Resource Management

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When it comes to daily planning during blue-sky operations, the tricky part is not laying out the workday, knowing what to do, or launching projects ahead of time. Instead, the challenge lies within the inevitable pop-up of unplanned events – you know, when Jim has to call off due to an emergency, or Sarah has a last-minute doctor appointment. 

With a schedule that’s already full of inspections, maintenance, and infrastructure repair jobs, managing both people and work for regular daily operations and spontaneous situations can quickly become a time-consuming, restoration-delaying, never-seem-to-make-any-headway mess.

To better cover your bases and accommodate last-minute changes, companies need to have a scalable system in place that eliminates the build-up of manual processes surrounding unplanned events big or small. It’s an essential measure preventing crew changes from flowing backward thanks to unexpected assignments. And ultimately, the forward momentum created by efficiently maximized finite resources will better ramp-up and tackle the amount of infinite work. 

When all real-time cards are visible on the table (work orders, available crews, and more), it’s a cinch to make quick, informed decisions that both save time and improve customer service. Automating processes such as callout, crew management, roster exchanges, and work tickets lead to a faster response due to the right people completing the jobs that their skills speak to the most. This resource alignment allows crews to move on to the next queued up order more swiftly. 

ARCOS’ solutions are perfect for the process. Products like Mobile Workbench can:

  • Report on the location, status of equipment, and crew makeup via mobile technology 
  • Integrate with ARCOS Callout, Crew Manager, and Mobile Workbench to change your business with an increase in operational efficiency
  • Help make reporting and reimbursement a snap by capturing data from one source of truth
  • Provide valuable insight into the past with historical data capture, so tomorrow’s plans can draw from a basis of exact and accurate real-world knowledge

Municipals and cooperatives alike can benefit immensely from having a flexible work management solution. Mobile Workbench compresses the amount of time it takes to assign, distribute, and manage work conducted in the field. 

There is a smarter, better way to make your business more efficient. Learn more about how to automate your day-to-day blue sky operations and emergency needs with ARCOS Mobile Workbench. Click here.

ARCOS Launches Free Portal for Utilities and Contractors to Easily Share Crew Rosters, Equipment, & More

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Columbus, Ohio – February 13, 2020 – ARCOS LLC has launched Resource Assist Lite™ for ARCOS utility customers and contractors to break through resource-management bottlenecks and safely speed up service restoration by efficiently sharing crews and equipment at the time and place of need. Resource Assist Lite overcomes the challenge of efficiently uploading and sharing crew rosters, so utility managers can plan for and secure the right number of FTEs for restoring service in the wake of any event, regardless of size. The portal – an easy-to-use and free, scaled-down version of ARCOS Resource Assist™ – supports utility mutual assistance, the resource planning work of Regional Mutual Assistance Groups (RMAG) and RAMP-UP, a tool for utilities to simultaneously request resources.

“As the RMAG process ends and utilities are matched with responding partners, a requesting utility can email each responder a link to the Resource Assist Lite portal; responders can then easily upload rosters,” says Jason Singer, director of Resource Management Services for ARCOS. “Resource Assist Lite does away with calls and emails between utilities and contractors clarifying and verifying spreadsheets.”

Without a tool like Resource Assist Lite, during a major event, a requesting utility might ask scores of utilities and contractors for crews. That request would translate into scores of different roster formats for the requesting utility to manipulate by hand and upload into one system of record; this work typically lasts several hours. With Resource Assist Lite, a utility defines the roster template when managers request crews and equipment. In turn, using a simple 3-step upload process, the responding utility or contractor knows exactly what data to input, in one place and with a format defined by the requesting utility.

“Although the industry has tried to implement a common roster format; it’s not been widely adopted, yet,” adds Singer. “Using one format for the industry would eliminate the bottleneck of vetting and manipulating rosters; it would streamline importing an ever-changing list of crews and equipment into crew management tools or homegrown systems.”

Until that time, ARCOS customers can request rosters via Resource Assist Lite from any contractor or responding utility, even those with whom they haven’t worked before. Resource Assist Lite also integrates with other ARCOS solutions such as Crew Manager®, enabling ARCOS customers to easily import crew rosters supplied via the free portal. 

“We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for a responding partner to upload a roster so the requesting utility can get a quick start on the restoration effort,” says Singer. “If that drives an industry standard for rostering, then all the better.”

With ARCOS Mobile Workbench, Grant PUD efficiently tackles daily work, trouble

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Columbus, Ohio – January 22, 2020 – ARCOS LLC, the market leader for utility and critical infrastructure resource-management solutions, has launched its ARCOS® Mobile Workbench solution for Grant County, Wash., Grant Public Utility District to help managers efficiently assign work to crews by automatically identifying not only a crew’s skill set but also which crew is nearest to the trouble. ARCOS integrated its Mobile Workbench with Grant PUD’s geographic information system (GIS), in part, to replace the utility’s outdated trouble reporting system. ARCOS Mobile Workbench now provides field crews with a single, simple solution to manage field order assignments, track work progress and collect work detail as it happens.

“Mobile Workbench gets our crews to the trouble by visually routing them there; crews can make notes, capture time and use the system to close out a ticket simply and efficiently,” says Derin Bluhm, chief technology officer for Grand PUD. “There are other field service solutions, but Workbench does exactly what we want without making things overly complicated.”

According to Bluhm, Grant PUD’s crews wanted a system that would allow them to identify and accept a job, complete it and move on to the next work order easily, regardless of work location or weather conditions.

“In the dead of a winter’s night, we don’t want crews fumbling with gloves and a laptop to accept work,” adds Bluhm. “With the Workbench app, supervisors broadcast work to the available crews in the field most able to perform it, then our crews poke their mobile device to accept the job via the app.  They can then see the necessary tasks and even dictate notes.”

The Mobile Workbench now running at Grant PUD works online and offline to give workers and supervisors directions, information on an asset, and its real-time location, so crews don’t have to pour over maps and printouts that may not reflect reality in the field. Using the app via a smartphone, crews can accept available work, self-assign new work or put a job in their queue. Bluhm says the Mobile Workbench improves safety because, even without automatic vehicle location (AVL) data from a vehicle tracking system, a utility can see where crews are in real time, making the app “a secondary source of crew location in an emergency situation.”

“With Mobile Workbench, we expect to reduce non-value-added windshield time by nearly 15 percent,” notes Bluhm. “Our folks were working with faxed service orders, sometimes adding a trip back to home base or using a personal device to take a picture of a fax and text it. We’ve eliminated at least one trip a day to the office, probably more.”

Grant PUD is expanding its use of Mobile Workbench to include damage assessment and as a source of record for all the work performed on a trouble call. Since May 2015, Grant PUD has automated its crew call outs via the SaaS-based ARCOS Callout and Scheduling Suite, recently expanding use of callout for its IT service desk after business hours.

ARCOS Congratulates Many Partners on Top Airlines of 2019 List

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The holidays. Summertime. Spring break. What do all of these things have in common? Oh yeah, busy travel times! In fact, holiday travel records were broken at the end of 2019, with 115.6 million Americans traveling between December 21st and January 1st, 2020, according to AAA.

The same article mentions that amidst the hustle and bustle of the season, air travel saw a 4.9% growth, with over 6 million Americans expected to fly around the holidays. That’s the most the industry has seen since 2003. (AAA Newsroom)

Each new year brings new rankings and lists, with everything from “2019’s Best Films and TV Shows” to “The Best and Worst U.S. Airlines of 2019” – a yearly piece with The Wall Street Journal. This year, ARCOS is proud that many of our airline industry partners landed top spots on the list.

According to the article:

 “Airlines say 2019 had stronger everyday storms and more congestion on air-traffic routes and big airports than 2019. They expect things to get even worse this year.” 

How is your airline keeping up? Top-ranked airlines on the scorecard face unpredictable storms and increasing amounts of travelers by automating their ground shift management and filling trips with solutions like ARCOS RosterApps and Ascend – helping airlines to get planes into the air more efficiently.

Despite all of the challenges, from weather to more travelers taking to the skies, ARCOS partners have even seen improvement with KPIs like:

  • On-time arrival rates
  • Number of cancellations
  • Number of delayed flights
  • Number of late or lost bags, and more

This can be accomplished by engaging your employees, administrators, and schedulers with tech that gives full visibility into open shifts and trips, all while automatically applying your company’s rules and policies. And yes, that means eliminating the manual processes that often lead to human errors and grievances.

Want to learn more? Check out our airline solutions, or download our whitepaper on how ARCOS RosterApps increases the efficiency of airline ground support.

Save your Sanity while Managing Shift Bidding & Swapping

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Many large corporations have started to realize the complexity required to maintain shift management swapping, trading and bidding processes. If you have a shift-based workforce with specialized skills and strict business rules or union agreements, shift management inefficiencies can be costing you big time.

If you’re struggling with filling unplanned gaps in shifts, finding people to meet overtime needs, or keeping your employees happy with their schedules, technology exists to help. Specifically, new shift management solutions can address filling shifts but also shift bidding and even shift trading processes.

What’s the Problem?

Far too many companies are still attempting to handle this process with Excel spreadsheets, phone calls, paper requests and whiteboards. This process becomes even more daunting when you’re also dealing with filling last minute gaps in the schedule. Recently, we took a poll of several critical infrastructure companies. Nearly 80% fill their shifts manually with phone calls.  Additionally, 40% of those companies report that they lose valuable time trying to get the correct skilled employees into the correct shifts. When you look at the overall picture here, it’s a recipe for inefficiency that can cost you big time.

What Can You Do?

It is time to digitize and automate the shift management process.

Automation will… 

  • Ensure business rules, union contracts, and company policies are followed without error in a consistent and fair approach 
  • Cut administration costs and enable employee self-service; greatly improve employee morale, which can reduce turnover
  • Dramatically reduce errors in payroll associated with overtime and shift swapping
  • Free up managers and supervisors so they can focus on leading their employees, not handling administrative tasks

ARCOS has the leading solutions for critical infrastructure companies trying to manage their workforce and increase productivity of managers and supervisors. Too good to be true? Don’t just take our word for it, check out how we helped our customer Piedmont Airlines streamline their shift management processes.