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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 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!

The Best and Worst U.S. Airlines of 2018

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So who who made the list of the best and worst airlines of 2018? The Wall Street Journal reviews and rates them all. We applaud our partners and clients for being some of the best!

Ditching Customary Coding

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The Benefits of APIs for Software Implementation

When a utility company implements a new system from a vendor, a smooth rollout of the new application is of utmost importance. Systems rarely stand on their own these days; so that means utilities and their vendors must also build a nexus between new and existing software platforms. Writing custom code to allow existing programs to communicate with a new system can often be time-consuming and costly.

Application programming interfaces, or APIs, allow for two different programs to talk with one another without the need for custom code. It acts as a layer in the architecture that allows data to pass between systems. Some third-party middleware services can even write logic in between, allowing information to be manipulated and transferred to other systems as needed.

A common way APIs can be used in the utility industry is when dealing with automated crew management systems. For example, say a utility using the ARCOS Callout & Scheduling Suite receives a work order. The data from that work order is needed both by the utility’s work management system and dispatchers using ARCOS to assemble a crew. APIs facilitate the transfer of this data between programs in real time.

This real-time data transfer has major benefits for utilities. During a major event, accurate real-time data is imperative in order to respond correctly, safely and efficiently. Since utility executives, emergency operations center staff, dispatchers, field personnel, corporate communications officers, contractors and local government want real-time information in an emergency, APIs become critical data transfer tools.

As utilities receive data in real time, they can even provide an appropriate subset of this data to customers as well. This is especially useful during after-hours or major events, when a utility wants to provide timely updates for an estimated time of restoration, or ETR.

Moreover, APIs can help trim labor costs, and also increase the security of data transfers. In the days before APIs, there had to be an administrator from each system entering information manually. Without an automated way to transfer this data, insecure data would sit unconsumed, which leaves the company at risk of a data breach. APIs circumvent both of these problems as well, reducing both unnecessary work and security risks.

In Urgent Need of Shift Replacement

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Ground Crew

In a day and age when we can stream almost any TV show ever made to a device held in the palm of our hand, it’s hard to believe that some in the airline industry are still scheduling ground crews using paper forms and Excel spreadsheets. The errors and rework that manually adjusting or assigning traded shifts can cause is a tedious process, especially when those exchanges can tally in the hundreds. Resource management innovation has moved past these antiquated modes of working by providing automation that eliminates this massive headache for Station Supervisors and un-knots the time it takes to properly staff shifts based on employee skill sets.

This technology is available now in ARCOS RosterApps.

Let’s take a look at a quick hypothetical. A ground crew employee is caught off-guard by a family matter that they need to attend to, yet they are scheduled to work a six-hour shift that evening. That employee dashes to ARCOS RosterApps and contacts a superior with a tagged caption that reads along the lines of “in urgent need of shift replacement.” A solution then has multiple ways of manifesting itself. If work rules allow it, the employee could simply request “real time” PTO to a supervisor. The supervisor can either approve, deny, assign that shift to another employee or even post it to the Open Shift board. By presenting multiple avenues towards finding a solution, ARCOS RosterApps allows for greater flexibility in real time and makes balancing work and life much more achievable.

An everyday process kicks off with a supervisor posting a bid to a Work Group. That shift is then open for claims from other employees within the group who are interested in picking it up.  Initiating a “bidding” process for the shift includes multiple employee interests – such as a hierarchy based on seniority and specific preferences set by each individual employee. If any conflicts arise, supervisors are notified immediately to reach out to involved employees and resolve the issue. Factored into the equation are union rules, employee skills, and mandatory time off. This all takes place in a fraction of a second and leads to the filling shifts faster without worry of mistake or operator error.

Modernizing flight and ground crew scheduling is easy and stress-free and helps airlines save money and regain the valuable employee time wasted while navigating outdated procedures. Contact us to find out how ARCOS RosterApps can innovate your scheduling procedure.

Automated Callout Systems and Collective Bargaining Agreements

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ARCOS likes bargaining agreements

Recently, Suffolk County Water Authority was in a logistical conundrum.

Consistent water service is extremely important to its 1.2 million customers across Long Island, New York, but in urgent situations where a response crew is needed quickly, Suffolk County was still relying on outdated paper lists to contact workers.

Superintendent of Maintenance, Chris Given, was involved in finding a solution to this problem.

“There wasn’t one moment that made us decide to fix this,” Given said. “It was an accumulation of years of knowing that our supervisors were spending too much time on the phone to get people on the scene.”

Knowing that electric utilities use automated call systems as part of daily operations, Suffolk County decided to issue an RFP to find a similar system to manage its callout.

Given helped screen a number of options, but decided to implement the ARCOS Callout and Scheduling Suite.

“We ultimately decided on the ARCOS system as it was the only system able to balance our complicated CBA, while also able to call multiple job titles from our seven locations,” Given said.

The ARCOS system was the only one that could balance the complex union agreements between the offices, while also quickly assembling a full response crew. Once implemented, the automated callout system brought average crew response time down from 100 minutes to just 80.

“It changed the way we operate regarding emergent callouts, and it eliminated grievances,” Given said.

When a supervisor is calling dozens of workers, human errors occur that can result in employee grievances. The ARCOS Callout system takes that human element out of the equation.

Furthermore, if, for example, two water mains broke in one night, the supervisor may end up so busy trying to assemble a crew that they are unable to supervise anyone else.

But ARCOS opens the supervisor up to be able to support the crew with additional information, and allows them to more adequately supervise multiple crews in an emergency situation.

For other water utilities struggling with similar difficulties, Given highly recommends looking into an automated system.

“We had been doing callouts the same way for over 50 years, and we knew there was a better way,” Given said. “You don’t have to create a solution by yourself, but you also don’t have to keep doing it the way you always have.”

The Automated Ground Crew Scheduling Software of the Future

By Blog

by John Brandt


The recent Aerolineas Argentinas strikes are an example of a severe, yet self-inflicted, scheduling challenge. But weather, equipment issues and illnesses can all add up to just as many or more cancelled flights. Any of these scenarios pose a difficult prospect for an operation of any scale. While employees have their own agendas and priorities to attend to, business operations do not sit idly by waiting for their required work to be covered. It’s a real burden for managers to keep track of the various actions and activities of their company’s workers, especially when relying on the use of a dated three-ring binder and bulletin board-centric system. ARCOS RosterApps addresses these issues head-on.

RosterApps, which is airline ground crew scheduling software, helps managers organize their scheduling information in one centralized, digital location. Company employees can submit requests and communicate with one another in a convenient, instantaneous manner. The transition to a digital platform eliminates the need for paper-based submissions, ridding managers of potentially mishandling time-management issues. Different tiers of authority allow for various levels of access and freedom. The base level is given to the standard employee, while upper levels can be assigned to supervisors and both company and location administrators. These upper tiers allow designated users to grant permissions and regulate lower-level profiles. They can also send out notifications and alerts on a large scale if need be, which is critical when it comes to messages, specifically emergencies, that require employee response on short notice.

ARCOS RosterApps gives airlines a way to automate many of the manual work-management processes relied upon behind the scenes. According to one manager for airport operations, “RosterApps standardizes the way we manage the requirements of our union agreements and company policy and ensures an equitable process for thousands of ground staff.”

From a base-level employee perspective, it assures users that their scheduling requests were received and addressed, in real time. For supervisors, RosterApps enables them to access individual scheduling concerns at the click of a button. Finally, for consumers, improved, in-house ground crew communication and scheduling helps keep flights on time. RosterApps may not prevent a strike like the one at Aerolineas Argentinas, but it certainly can get ground crews back on schedule in the wake of an interruption in service.

Automating Water Utilities’ Planned & Unplanned Work

By Blog

by Joe Kostelnick,

The challenges facing a water utility everyday are numerous, but dealing with unplanned incidents is often one of the most difficult. Assembling a crew, even on short notice, can be labor-intensive and take hours when done manually with paper lists.

ARCOS helps crew water main break fixes.In emergency situations, a fully automated callout system is a way to circumvent these challenges. Already used by more than 100 electric and gas utilities across North America, ARCOS Callout is an automated system that sends an after-hours call to every available worker simultaneously — mirroring workplace agreements — and allowing response teams to assemble in minutes. When dealing with electricity and water, speedy response times are of critical importance, especially to customers.

While an electric company may make an automated callout up to four times a day, a water company may only need it four times a week. Unplanned work isn’t as common in the water industry, but managers can also apply the ARCOS Callout and Scheduling Suite to planned labor as well.

Often, a water company will plan maintenance work or equipment upgrades in advance. Sign-up sheets are frequently used to allow workers to volunteer, but that requires a worker to come to the office, or be in constant email communications with management.

With ARCOS Callout, however, sign-up sheets for projects can be sent digitally, the same way a request would be sent for an emergency.

Employees receive an alert on their phones asking if they’d like to work a certain project. The ARCOS solution automatically tracks responses, which eliminates workers missing a call or being skipped over to work additional hours. Whether a water utility faces planned or unplanned work, ARCOS makes help automatic.

ARCOS Founder Inducted Into BGSU 2018 Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame

By Blog, News Articles

Our founder and visionary, Mitch McLeod, was inducted into the 2018 BGSU Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Hall of Fame.  Mitch set us on our path – and we are so incredibly proud of him.  Check out this video which pretty much sums up Mitch’s incredible leadership.  Only four inductees were chosen this year, and we think you’ll agree – this award is pretty special.

Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Hall of Fame 2018 – Mitch McCleod from Bowling Green State University.

…Mitch’s Acceptance Speech

From the corner office to the field, communication is key to improving safety

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Concise and quick communication is one of the most effective skillsets in an organization – when it’s going well, processes are smooth and efficient; however, on the flipside, poor communication leads to disorganization, inconsistencies, tedious processes and even potential safety issues. With a workforce that is more widely distributed and mobile than ever before, supervisors are facing extreme communication barriers. Handwritten logs, manual phone calls and time-consuming processes are just a few of the obstacles that could have an effect on safety in the field. As the expectations of customers rise and the number of incidents grows- safety is more important than ever before.

Let’s take a deeper look into how an active approach toward improving company-wide communication is a step in the right direction to keep safety issues at bay.

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