When it came to after-hours emergencies and unplanned events, control center operators were making call after call manually. The process didn’t just cause chaffed fingertips, it was also siphoning valuable operations time. Managers were not getting any closer to manning after-hours crews after repeated callout attempts or able to meet essential duties – and this went on for years. Minnesota-based co-op Great River Energy had to do something. They decided to automate the process with the ARCOS Callout and Scheduling Suite.
The Benefits of Automation
What exactly does this mean? To put it simply: the automated solution makes the callout calls for a utility. It takes care of knowing labor agreements, seniority, the hours an employee has worked, skills possessed, PTO and how close a crew member happens to be to a job site. It takes a complex job that sometimes takes double-digit hours to finish and turns it into one that can be completed in minutes.
Hanging up the Phone and Embracing Technology
The turning point was a recent winter storm. Great River Energy didn’t have the time to take operators off-line to make callouts when front-end analysis was needed to restore substations, identify transmission infrastructure damage, and formulate the start of peak generation. Restorative efforts were bogged down thanks to manual processes, leaving members and Great River Energy frustrated.
Mark Peterson, system operations manager for Great River Energy said it best, “Our operators have tools to pinpoint issues and analyze conditions, but it takes concentration and dedicated time to make the most of these tools. Every minute spent on a manual callout is a distraction that reduces situational awareness in the control center. Automating callouts will save time for our control center staff, so they can focus on their core responsibility, operations.”
Now, 28 member-owned cooperatives in Minnesota and Wisconsin will be able to automatically identify Great River Energy’s 200 available field employees after business hours and direct them to restoration work. It’s a feat whose success will be measured by the amount of people reached through the ARCOS callout system, and how much time automation shaves off the callout per event.
Want to learn more about the ARCOS Callout and Scheduling Suite? We have a case study that can show you how one utility saved $6.6 million due to the reduction in time administering schedules, checking statuses, making callouts and addressing grievances.