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Utility Resource Management Blog

The latest and greatest thought provoking content from subject matter experts at ARCOS and around the web

ARCOS speaks at the Riverside Company Annual Conference

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Bruce Duff, ceo of ARCOS, spoke today at the Riverside Company annual conference of portfolio companies. Along with Dave Tiley, senior operating partner of the Riverside Company, they shared ARCOS’ journey and how action and urgency have played key roles in our success. The strategic importance of creating and living your corporate mission vision was also highlighted. Solving the toughest challenges for critical infrastructure industries is something ARCOS takes seriously and we are very grateful for our partners who let us help them respond, restore and report to daily planned and unplanned events. Thank you, Riverside, for the recognition and chance to tell our story.

The Rising Cost of Flying and increasing Airline ROI

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From journeying abroad for pleasure, to bleisure travel (the new term for extending a business trip for leisure), global trips are on the rise. Planes are transporting more people than ever before, and over the next 20 years, airlines are projected to double the amount of annual flights – accompanied by rising ticket prices and other fees. But if an increasing number of travelers are continually paying more to fly, then why are airline profits free-falling?

According to the IATA (International Air Transport Association), airlines globally made less money in 2018 than 2017. From 2017 to 2018, airplane arrival delays went up 26.8%, and the number of cancelled flights increased by 36%. (United States Department of Transportation)

Variables contributing to a decreasing ROI for airlines include: 

  • Paycheck overpayments when shifts are not logged correctly
  • High turnover among ground crew employees and schedulers
  • Keeping a larger number of reserve pilots than needed
  • Using more time and resources while scheduling air and ground crews during an IROP
  • The increasing cost of fuel for American airline carriers (up 4% from 2017 to 2018)
  • Delays and cancellations caused by national disasters and weather events 

Sound familiar? There is a way carriers can handle how they deal with these challenges. By investing in innovative technology that provides control over most of these diminishing factors of revenue, airlines can turn things around before it’s too late.

With Ascend and RosterApps, ARCOS resource management solutions can provide ROI that can raise any airline’s bottom line, with benefits like:

  • Cutting admin costs and time
  • Completely eliminating the need to pick up the phone and make manual calls
  • Operational efficiency gains and reduced turnover
  • Giving your employees the tool they need to do their job

Don’t wait to start seeing a return on your investments in 2019 and help make this year your most successful yet.

The Ever-Evolving Role of Airline Labor Rules and Regulations

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Pilot shortages. Union trends. Grievances. These themes wove their way through headlines in 2018, and will have a place in airline news for years to come. With the need for more pilots, and an increasing spotlight on labor rules and regulations, what kinds of industry union trends are emerging?

A recent report from CAPA (the Centre for Aviation) revealed that during the first half of 2018, published aviation new articles had an increase in the use of the word “strike”. Their summary report also highlights that as a result of the pilot shortage, both pilots and unions are feeling more confident.

Other findings from CAPA’s report include:

  • Globalized business models are challenging unions
  • It’s crucial to ensure that airlines and unions have needs that align in the industry’s best interest
  • The current pilot supply is not keeping up with the demand for new pilots

Over the past five years, the airline industry has also seen an increase in mobilization and a defense of a right to organize among ground crews and subcontractors. One common theme between airlines, unions, and public officials alike is safety for travelers.

According to an article on, a boost in pay and more training opportunities for airline employees contributes to safer conditions for passengers and an elevated employee retention rate. If an airline has high turnover, then employees may be less prepared to handle incidents. This factor alone can give unions the upper hand when advocating for policy changes.

As labor rules and regulations continue to adapt and change, it can be extremely difficult for schedulers to remember who they are allowed to call when a spot opens for both flight and ground crews. Our research shows that schedulers go through a variety of tedious processes to fill open spots – from pouring over paper lists, folders, and complicated spreadsheets, to shifting through files in large boxes to confirm their union rules and that they are calling the correct employees.

ARCOS solutions are configurable to your specific labor rules for flight and ground crews, eliminating the need to determine who you have to call, and automating the manual call process all together. With evolving rules, pilot seniority, paid time off, and sick leave – you have enough to remember. Let our software do the work for you and keep your unions, and airline happy.

The ARCOS Sunday Read…What are consumers to think?

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The ARCOS Sunday read dares to ponder what consumers think when utilities report losing millions of dollars but still beat Wall Street’s expectations. What can we do in terms of reputation management and justifying higher rates? How do we educate consumers on what daily operating costs truly are and showing that the industry is ultimately keeping rates down and more money in user’s pockets? Food for thought…

What’s in place to ensure your ‘stream’ of service?

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Many of the businesses and industries (e.g., utilities, airlines, manufacturers, critical infrastructure) I work with at ARCOS every day have customers who depend on the smooth, uninterrupted operation of technology. Take the airline industry as an example. Aircraft makers design air-frames with multiple, built-in fail-safe elements. Planes have to be able to fly with a failed engine, land with broken landing gear, and have a backup power source, among many other redundancies.

For utilities who depend on cloud services to organize day-to-day operations, the principle is the same. A constant, unbroken “stream” of water, gas, or electric service is imperative to utility customers, and thus, fail-safe measures are built into the network to ensure this. There are a few different layers of redundancies that can be built into cloud systems. The first layer of redundancy should always be physical. If you need a server operating constantly to keep the system going, there should be a backup server in the event the first goes down.

Another important fail-safe layer is called location redundancy. In addition to physical hardware in a single city, it’s important to have redundant systems set up in other cities. If, for instance, there were a problem in ARCOS’s Columbus, Ohio, office, those services could be shifted to a similar facility in another city.

Finally, if a business relies on a vendor-provided service, it is imperative to have a layer of vendor redundancy. A good example is a business’ internet service provider (ISP). If constant internet service is critical to the business model, there should be a managed plan in place that if that ISP goes down, another one picks up immediately.

Ultimately, when uninterrupted service is a top priority, it is the responsibility of a business owner to look for every fail point and implement fail-safe measures to bridge that gap. These examples are just a few of the places that technology professionals and business managers can build fail safes into cloud systems to ensure service is always on point.

Two reasons why water utilities should automate workflow

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When a major storm impacts a region, the demand on that region’s water utility skyrockets. Pumps need monitoring, chemical doses need measuring, and urgent issues need swift resolution. Often, operations superintendents must document each action as well, meaning plenty of paperwork in an already stressful time.

An effective way to lessen the pressure on workers is to simply automate these workflows with a system like ARCOS’ Mobile Inspection. For water companies, having a system in place to deal with slower manual processes can help to mediate emergency situations, allowing employees to take care of other pressing matters, rather than fill out paperwork.

For the water industry, the benefits of automating workflows can be seen in routine maintenance work, like a hydrant inspection. The inspection itself is managed by a form that has to be completed, with each element verified to be done. After the inspection is complete, the team then has to check in with their manager and fill out an inspection form. By automating this system, workers can complete a hydrant check form virtually, and the team no longer has to check in with a manager in between jobs. This saves man hours and makes compiling GIS data much easier. A further benefit is that the ARCOS program stores data, such as hydrant inspection notes, for future reference. For instance, once a worker in the field completes a maintenance inspection and the ARCOS system collects the data, a utility manager at headquarters, or elsewhere, can tap into the ARCOS software to produce a pre-configured report such as a monthly operating report, or MOR. Managers can produce reports to assess the condition of field assets, identify system trends or fire off data to governing bodies like the Environmental Protection Agency.

In addition to saving hours, automated workflows can also be applied to assess worker progress and productivity. ARCOS’ Mobile Inspection program uses location services to update GIS information in real time. This, in turn, provides the company with data about how long the employee is at the job site, what work they did there, and many other KPIs.

This data can be used to create a system of goalposts. When a worker reaches a particular goal, they can move on to another, which provides the feeling of progress. It just goes to show that automating workflows doesn’t just help the company, but the employees as well.

Flexibility is the key to making ICS work across utilities

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Every utility, at some point, will have to respond to an urgent incident. Whether a small power outage, a water main break, or a full-on natural disaster, a system needs to be in place to manage workers and supervisors as quickly and accurately as possible.

Many utility companies use a variation of the Incident Command System, or ICS, which was developed in the 1970s to help different departments work together effectively to fight wildfires in California. Since then, the structure has evolved into the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

Because utilities often need to coordinate with the federal government in the events of large-scale incidents, it makes sense for companies to adopt a similar command structure. ICS is also extremely flexible and able to be applied in many different scenarios. The core ideas of ICS revolve around melding multiple agencies together quickly by giving them a unified chain of command and common terminology to use. It also significantly cuts down on freelancing and otherwise duplicated labor, saving time and resources down the line.

The flexibility of the ICS system, however, means that few utilities use exactly the same version of the system. Some utilities may have extra or fewer roles within ICS, and roles that have the same title across multiple companies may have varying responsibilities attached to them.

A number of factors can affect these structural and organizational differences. Whether the company is owned by an investor versus a municipality, as that alters whom workers ultimately report to. The type of services provided can also change the ICS framework, as responding to a water main break will require a different structure than a downed power line.

All these variables make creating an ICS system that spans all types of utility companies complicated.  A good example of how to do this is ARCOS’ Incident Command Center. The Incident Command Center system can be tailored to each customer’s needs by altering the organizational structure and the duties within it.

Furthermore, the system is very scalable. For a small incident, multiple roles can be condensed to be done by one employee, allowing other workers to continue routine work while the incident is addressed. These roles can also be broken up to be performed by multiple workers in the event of a major breakdown. This flexibility is key to a successful ICS system, one that saves the most time and overhead while also making sure incidents are addressed quickly and effectively.

ARCOS Incident Manager – Deep Dive Solution Overview

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Get ready for a full look at ARCOS Incident Manager!

Go to our events page and register for our latest deep dive webinar! Find out for yourself how critical infrastructure companies are using ARCOS Incident Manager to automatically stand up their ICS or Emergency Response structures, creating templates for type and severity of events, building a central location for all necessary documents, and scaling events up or down with a simple click as they move through them!

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