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The newest content from ARCOS and around the web

The Sunday Read: Being Strategic About User Adoption

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How is your organization driving User Adoption of new technology? The key to eliminating a sea of questioning faces, fuzzy logic, and an adherence to old processes starts with a strategy. ARCOS has a few suggestions on how to make the transitional road to a different technology successful and a little less bumpy.

  • Share an outline with the entire company of any changes way before deciding on an implementation date. This ensures that everyone from the receptionist to those traveling or in the field know what’s coming.
  • Tell them why. Define exactly why a certain piece of technology is being brought in, how it will impact what they do, and the benefits of having it. Buy-in is most successful when staff realize how it will make their life easier.
  • Schedule a Q&A with all employees. Take note of anyone who is fearing the change or is having issues with someone moving their cheese. This is the time to share training, implementation dates, and when roll-out is expected to be completed.
  • Train the employees who had the most problems accepting the incoming technology first. Give them special care and make the questioning group evangelists for the product by the time training is over. Consider allowing them to become the technology leads on the new system with the responsibility to train others.
  • Provide a schedule of feedback and sharing. Let your team know that you care about how the new tech is working for them in their environments. Let them share any problems they are having – but always drill down to a solution during any discussion of dissatisfaction. Don’t let questions dangle. Listen to their input and really contemplate what they say could bring a resolution to their issues. Act upon what they share. Make the meetings happen weekly, then monthly and finally every 3 months.

User adoption can be tricky but if you have a plan in place, any problems that bubble to the surface won’t come as a surprise. You can create a smooth transition for every member of  your crew and team. Seamless user adoption is possible.

Learn more about ARCOS’ implementation methods here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sunday Read: Substations as Community Hubs

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Seattle City Light has it right. Substations provide reliable power but why not use the energy hubs to add to a community’s life, character and aesthetic?

The Denny substation is a new take on what substations can be. It’s a 44,000 square foot, solar paneled architectural wonder that includes event spaces, public art and even has an off-leash dog park.

When you are building something for the city it serves, shaping the power structure to attract business and promote neighborhood togetherness is a great way to show you care and are serving your customers well. Bravo, Seattle City and Light! ARCOS salutes you!

What do you think the future of power utilities will be? Is it the responsibility of a utility to take on the role of being more than just a power hub in their communities?

 

The Sunday Read: Being Summer Smart about Grids and Meters

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Summer can be brutal. The demand for power can cause all kinds of fluctuations, critical failures, and customer frustration. We know as heat waves roll in, problems are inevitably going to pop up but are they more manageable than initially thought? Is technology allowing us to be more flexible in distribution and demand methods and taking care of hot spots?

Yes and Yes. The smart grid and smart meters have made a huge difference in how energy is consumed and administered. New software is even being developed to handle peak loads by analyzing the data from both and giving us control right where and when it’s needed. And it’s not just in the power industry- this technology is also being appropriated for the water and gas industries.

Looking forward, a system like this can be easily integrated with the ARCOS suite. A special kind of forecasting could be forged where an upcoming outage could be predicted and crews automatically called out and managed to fix it instantaneously. Can you already see the smiles on customers faces? Air conditioners stay on and everyone stays cool in more ways than one.

It’s very smart to be smart about our smart grids and meters.

How Airlines Can Look to Mobile Solutions for Innovation

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It’s okay. You can admit it. Your airline still uses spreadsheets to schedule your crew members. Maybe it’s only at a few locations, but it’s a guilty secret you want to move beyond. Since the recent merger of Virgin America, Industry leader Alaska Airlines (winning their 12th J.D. Power award this year), is moving full speed ahead with their digital airline plans of the future.  

Keith Allen, Product Manager in ITS (Information Technology and Services) says his organization had different processes at their over 100 locations, and yes, they even used paper and spreadsheets in the past, “One of our big pushes is to go mobile everywhere and begin leveraging emerging innovative technology solutions to empower our front-line workforce”.

The airline started rolling out ARCOS RosterApps with customer service, ramp service, lounge staff, support staff, cargo facilities, and maintenance and technicians. Over 5,000 staff members are using RosterApps and, by the end of summer, they anticipate usage will be over 7,500.

RosterApps enables simplified scheduling, shift bidding and trading, and vacation requests. However, its winning feature is the fact that it ensures that dozens of airline industry union rules are adhered to. This was key for the airline, which had to comply with five different union contracts when rolling out RosterApps.

John McKenna, Director of Product Management shares,“Our front line employees are thrilled to have a scheduling tool that puts them in control of their work schedules,” said John. “Moving from paper to mobile-friendly RosterApps has been very well received. It has also freed up the time of our front-line workforce to focus on their primary goal, delivering an exceptional guest experience versus the need to be close to a computer workstation all day”.

Vikram Baskaran, Managing Director, Product Management & Software Engineering shares, “The less our employees are heads-down concentrating on scheduling, the more time they have to work with customers and provide award-winning guest service, which aligns to our #FlyTechAlaska mission in ITS, we are passionate about creating tools our front-line loves as we continue to connect people through technology, our guests to our employees, employees to our business, and our business to our Community while continuously innovating at the speed of flight”.

Want to learn more about how ARCOS RosterApps can encourage innovation within your airline? Download our in-depth demonstration now!

The Sunday Read: Can Renewable Natural Gas Become a Thing?

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The case for renewable energy has been made time and time again. And while wind has made strides in becoming a bigger contributor to the over-all energy landscape, other new ways of energy production must be found to supplement the world’s ever-growing consumption needs.

Enter: Renewable Natural Gas.

Yale Environment 360 takes a look at the whole process and discusses how business is starting to boom. It’s an amazing idea and one that could supplement current supply and demand issues. It’s something we take seriously at ARCOS as we look to expand our products and re-tool current ones to fit the wants of our customers. Can you image Resource Assist re-imagined to pull in BioGas farms as well as contractors? Regulation of gas flow would be a simple matter to maintain as farms are put on-line and off with a quick callout request.

What do you see as vital for the future of thew world’s energy needs? Can renewables scale up and be saviors to a planet in power fluctuation peril?

The Sunday Read: Blackouts Used to Prevent Wildfires

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Wildfires continue to be an issue. Electric Utilities are facing the problem in innovative ways, trying to minimize costly damage, customer outages, and avoiding becoming the next PG&E. The latest idea is something that’s been used before but some want to see it implemented on a larger scale – Blackouts are being used to mitigate fire risk.

Being proactive means thinking outside of the box and while the jury is still out on whether or not a blackout can actually be a successful tool in stopping the spread of a wildfire, everything and anything must be considered.

While burying lines is a story that continues to be talked about in wildfire mitigation circles too, being able to respond quickly is equally as important. Check out ARCOS Incident Manager for more on how an ICS structure can called up and facilitated in minutes instead of an hour, two hours or more.

What are more ways that utilities can prevent, manage and mitigate wildfires?

3 Rituals for the Morning Shuffle

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The morning shuffle (or whatever time of day you start) can be rough for most people, even early birds. We’re often tired, unfocused, and disorganized. ARCOS has a few tips to help keep things in line, tamed and less stressful. 

1.    Keep It Mobile

After your good night’s sleep, rise and shine ready to take on the day ahead full of energy, extreme vigor and renewed focus! Okay, well at least get the coffee going and take a shower as your blurry eyes focus on what’s next. And how? Reach out for your mobile device. As you crunch into the cornflakes or brandish that bran muffin, you can quickly check for any surprises that happened overnight. Keep it to only checking messages and the weather. Too much information overload as you just get up can change your attitude and derail your day. Just know that ARCOS has your back and is ready to spring into action. In a crisis situation, you can use our mobile app but otherwise wait until you hit the office to fire up the best resource management tools available.  

2.    Discover if you are In or Out 

So you parked the truck and head into your workspace. All the lights are on but are they on everywhere? Check to see if there have been any outages overnight. Were crews dispatched by  Callout and Crew Manager to take care of any emergencies? Do you have an emergency now or is that just the caffeine kicking in and making you a bit paranoid? Assess your current situation and breathe. You got this with ARCOS’ help.

3. I know you’re out there 

After discovering if outages have played a number on your carefully laid out daily operation plans, it’s time to see if everyone is there. Has there been a call-off? Was there a sudden need for somebody to take PTO? Did an event cause members of your team to go on rest period? ARCOS  Crew Manager can help provide full situational awareness in milliseconds. If needed, you can rearrange assignments and put together new work teams on the fly. Callout can send the word out that you need support and in less time than it takes brew another pot of coffee, your crews will be assembled. In one of ARCOS’ latest callouts, it only took 20 minutes and 10 seconds to make 4,105 calls. 707 shifts were filled. If you need more outside help for a bigger job or development, use Resource Assist to bring contractors into the fold.  

These rituals will help make your morning shuffle more manageable. No one will ever see you sweat. Work can be something you look forward to when you have an ARCOS solution and the right tools in place. Crew manager, Callout and even Resource Assist are the wake-up call you need so you can have a better noon, afternoon and night. Schedule a demo of the whole ARCOS suite including Incident Manager. Learn more at https://www.arcos-inc.com/solutions/.

The Sunday Read: California Wildfire Legislation Gives Utilities $21 Billion, Requires Annual Safety Certification

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California legislation is requiring all utilities in the state to have an annual utility safety certification process completed before they can access $21 billion of funds set aside to compensate victims of wildfires caused by power lines and pay for other wildfire related liabilities.

While some are saying the legislation doesn’t have enough safeguards in place and gives utilities a free checking account, others are pointing out that the safety verification process is needed to prevent lines from sparking the issues wildfire victims and PG&E have experienced and that since the mandated certification will be tied to executive pay, oversight is built into the bill.

Whichever side of the fence you are on, something has to be done so bankruptcy and tragedy can be avoided.

ARCOS can help by getting regulated procedures implemented in short order. Every IOU in the state of California and several municipal utilities are currently using ARCOS – and many other organizations are looking for ARCOS to aid, augment and bolster their current wildfire mitigation plans. We can speed up response, better manage resources before/during/after events, and timestamp and report every step taken during a crisis management situation. Our software can even put pre-inspection checks and work orders in place to make sure utilities are being pro-active in checking equipment before anything happens. Utilities, talk to ARCOS today and get ahead of the new legislation now.

Linemen Are First Responders

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Support for the physical and psychological tole of disaster relief has been in the news a lot lately with the recent extension of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund until 2090. (https://www.cnn.com/2019/06/12/politics/first-responder-victims-compensation-fund-passes/index.html) The public was up in arms regarding Congressmembers’ perceived lack of interest in the testimony of gravely ill first responders affected by 9/11.

While nobody doubts the courage, sacrifice, and service exhibited by traditional first responders such as police officers, firemen, and EMS crews, there is a well-deserved push to recognize utility line workers as first responders in order to ensure they are given the same sort of support.

In the weeks after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused extensive damage across the US in 2017, UWUA President Mike Langford stated:

 “Now it’s time for our elected leaders to recognize us as first responders as well. When disaster strikes, we are on the scene doing those things that make it possible for other first responders, including police and fire personnel, to do their jobs. We are responsible for making disaster sites safe places to work so that others can do what needs to get done. Yet, we do not enjoy the same legal status as other first responders.” (https://uwua.net/magazine/we-are-first-responders/)

Utility Workers and PTSD

In the years since 9/11, multiple studies have been conducted examining the long-term emotional and psychological effects of the disaster, not just on first responders, but other disaster response workers such as utility workers. In one such study (https://giosan.com/publications/wtcptsdpredictors.pdf), it was determined that out of 2,960 utility workers studied, 8% tested as having “full” PTSD and an addition 9.3% had “subthreshold” PTSD.

Although 9/11 stands out as an anomaly in terms of scale of destruction and loss of life, it serves as an indicator for the true impact natural and man-made disasters have on linemen. Not only are they enduring difficult conditions such as extreme weather, poor sleep, and high stress, but often they witness traumatic scenes including towns wiped away, families in shock, and worst of all, injury and death.

How to Support Linemen

It’s important to do what we can to support our linemen before, during, and after disasters to ensure both their physical and mental wellbeing is being looked after. It’s encouraged that all utility companies have a policy in place for dealing with their workers during disasters and ensuring there is a safety net beneath them.

ARCOS is committed to the health and safety of lineman and utility workers everywhere. Our solutions such as Callout and Crew Manager, as well as safety check functionality,  were a direct response to answering the industry’s need to respond, restore and report during crisis situations. We’re proud to support the work they do, often putting their lives on the line day in and out.  https://www.arcos-inc.com/solutions/

For more information on how you can support our linemen, click on these additional resources:

National Institutes of Health’s Coping with Disasters: Health Information Guide (https://disasterinfo.nlm.nih.gov/coping), in specific, its section on help for response workers (https://disasterinfo.nlm.nih.gov/coping#For_Emergency_Responders,_Healthcare_Workers,_Journalists,_and_Volunteers)

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Distress Helpline (https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline)

US Department of Veteran’s Affairs National Center for PTSD’s section on Disaster Rescue and Response Workers (https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treat/type/disaster_response_work.asp)

Center for Disease Control’s Traumatic Incident Stress: Information for Emergency Response Workers (https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2002-107/pdfs/2002-107.pdf)

 

The Sunday Read: Utility stocks are a reliable, old friend

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Utility stocks have been bashed and thought to be something of the past. A few mislead investors were even starting to call out life support for what has traditionally been a strong and solid portfolio purchase.

According to this story from Investorplace.com,  happy times are here again.

Being a large part of the business we serve, these facts and figures are not news to us. Utilities are America’s life blood and even with a hiccup every now and then, they haven’t lost any definition or financial tone.

While we can’t predict the market, we can forecast that our friends will stay robust and be a stout choice for years to come. What is your view of utility stocks? Do you have any in your portfolio? What can utilities do to keep being a sound investment?