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The Sunday Read: Tech is a necessity for efficiency and reliability

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Wild fires running rampant! Over-compressed gas lines exploding! Increasing frequency of unplanned weather events!

The world is full of dangers to our customers and how we run our businesses. A recent Utility Dive article about the use of drones to check power lines and our own Energy Central article about drones and chatbots had us thinking about how vital technology is in all sectors of utility and critical infrastructure management.

It’s no longer a case of keeping software and equipment on a budgetary back-burner, it’s time to accelerate adoption and get the digital pieces in place now before the next incident happens and our users go on a warpath of blame, shame and complaining about how restoration efforts are slow, convoluted and mismanaged.

How is your operation using technology? Is its use up to par? How can you implement more and use it to encourage better customer service experiences? Do you have Crew Manager, Mobile Inspection, Damage Assessment and other tools in place?

The Sunday Read ponders these questions as we wrap up another weekend…

 

3 Must-Have Tools to Ready Yourself for FEMA Reimbursements

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Accuweather is predicting that the 2019 hurricane season will be near or slightly above a normal season. They expect 12 to 14 named storms, with the potential for seven hurricanes and two to four major hurricanes.

As Hurricane Season barrels towards us, the question is, after you’ve slogged through the restoration process, are you ready to tackle the equally exhausting reimbursement process?

To get the full 75% of costs incurred reimbursed, one can face a nightmare of red tape and paperwork, however; as those who have worked with FEMA have learned, it’s a necessary evil that only needs a method to tame and conquer the process. ARCOS customers have told us that besides automated resource management capabilities; ARCOS tools can improve the speed of FEMA reimbursements through our time-stamped historical data and documentation. But which solutions do what and how do they help?

Crew Manager
Crew Manager works to get crews and equipment out to the field as soon as possible with minimal effort. Crew Manager allows a scheduler to assign crews, track locations, manage logistics, and more. By using a mobile device, you gain full situational awareness of both crews and equipment in real-time, so resources aren’t tied to a desk to get the information needed. Crew Manager captures the historical record of who was where, when and the accomplished work.  

Resource Assist
When a situation needs more resources or is too specialized for regular crews to handle, Resource Assist enables you to find and assign contractors electronically. When the need arises, you send a request to your network of contractors who can then commit to all or a percentage of the work they can do and provide arrival times. Resource Assist pulls everything together and keeps track of the details allowing for a distribution of an automatically updated common roster as contractor resources change and another way to view the historical record of an event.

Incident Manager
To stand up your organization’s Incident Command System (ICS) or emergency preparedness plan structure use ARCOS Incident Manager. Utilities can create and execute an organized incident response protocol in the event of (or in preparation for) a major event or situation. It activates a leadership structure and contacts people within the chain of command, getting them checked-in and on-site quickly and efficiently. It’s an agile, scalable solution that allows you to expand and contract your incident response team as needed. Like Crew Manager, it keeps a historical record of who played which roles during restoration and can time-stamp ICS or other documentation that is necessary for completing FEMA reimbursements.

All of these tools, with Crew Manager at the core, can save hours of updating whiteboards and spreadsheets, tracking convoys, placing push-pins on a map, and filing a never-ending stream of e-mails and paperwork and can play a key role in quickly accessing historical information needed for FEMA reimbursements. By having vital resources in a suite of applications from the start, you have clean, consistent record keeping that not only makes the recovery process simpler but also puts you in the right place when it comes time to apply to FEMA for reimbursements.

Contact us now and request a demo. You owe to yourself to leave the aspirin in the bottle and the headaches of the FEMA reimbursement process behind.

The Sunday Read: Americans feel weather is getting worse but don’t prepare

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The ARCOS Sunday Read takes a look at the up coming hurricane season.

Although forecasters are predicting a “slightly” less severe season, there are still 14 storms that may impact us. It’s amazing that 74% of Americans feel that weather situations are getting worse but only half are prepared to do anything about it.

What about us in the utility, critical infrastructure and airline industries? Are we prepared?

We say we have our strategies in place but with the increased scrutiny of the regulator eye on everything we do, do we really? Are solutions like Incident Manager or Crew Manager in place to aid ICS and restoration roll-out or are we just like our fellow Americans and running efforts at 50%?

The only thing certain is the hurricanes are coming and how we respond to them is critical. We need to make sure our plans are in place now.

The Sunday Read: The Brain Drain- Consultants vs. Millennials

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Forbes has addressed the brain drain happening in industry but says it’s forthcoming. ARCOS would argue that for critical infrastructure and utilities, it’s already here.

As millennials force new ways of working to manifest across multiple disciplines thanks to the missing knowledge base of their predecessors, retiring baby boomers are finding that employers are asking them to stay on longer and in a new way- as consultants.

It’s a notable change and one causing workforce modifications across America. Is consultancy the new norm? Is it a sustainable situation or can millennials foster an accelerated knowledge dump and take the reigns? Will Baby Boomers ever get the rest and relaxation they’ve worked hard for and deserve or are they just standing in the way of progress by not understanding the ways millennials learn and view things?

This ARCOS Sunday Read is really one think about.

The Sunday Read: As Storm Costs Escalate, Regulators Penalize

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Storms are increasing and becoming more violent. Mother Nature is throwing us all for a loop with her pummeling fury.

Utilities have to be prepared for this new normal and while ICS and event plans have painstakingly been put in place to stay one step ahead of large-scale weather events, mistakes have been made- mistakes regulators are pouncing on by issuing threats of fines and financial retribution (which only fan the fires of consumer discontent).

The ARCOS Sunday Read focuses on the latest from Florida and New York. We pose the question of how prepared are you? Are your emergency preparedness plans in place? Are you following them? Can Incident Manager help? How can rapidly increasing restoration costs and fines be combated without decimating budgets and reserves? Are you ready to face regulator scrutiny after a weather-related event?

There is a lot to think about and implement before storm season starts.

The Sunday Read: Being Strategic About Emergency Preparedness

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In advance of ARCOS’ appearance at the National Hurricane Conference tomorrow in New Orleans, we ask the question, “How are we being strategic about emergency preparedness?”.

FEMA released their 4 year strategic plan back in March of 2018 but has adoption happened? Who has taken their recommendations to heart? Before we can stand tall in the face of increasing weather events, there are many challenges that we as a nation have to overcome – such as funds, time, and the quick organization and distribution of resources. Let’s hope we are never caught unaware again.

ARCOS has released Incident Manager to help facilitate strategic emergency preparedness. See us at the show and learn how we how we have re-envisioned ICS stand-up, crew deployment and paperwork collection and storage.

ARCOS is dedicated to making responding, restoring and reporting as simple and safe as possible. Request more info here.

The Sunday Read — Creating Full Situational Awareness

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The question of how to develop full situational awareness is a consuming conundrum no matter what the industry. Although the Army has created robots with advanced AI that can quickly access  and create a complete overview of the land, mapping out the full picture for the rest of us has always been an issue. What technological advancements are out there to help us advance our vision of an event so we can send crews out and keep them safe? ARCOS is definitely a start

The ARCOS Sunday Read: The Increase of Solar for a Brighter, Sustainable Future

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The ARCOS Sunday Read thinks about the impact of solar and other renewable energy sources and how committed utilities are in their implementation. Are we focused enough on future sustainability? This story from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies paints a pretty picture. What do you think?

https://e360.yale.edu/digest/utility-scale-solar-could-grow-by-double-digits-over-the-next-two-years

 

 

Technology that Takes the Risk out of Innovation

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According to the Department of Homeland Security, a large swath of the manufacturing industry falls under an umbrella term dubbed “critical infrastructure,” specifically the “critical manufacturing sector.” This subgroup includes entities like manufacturers of steel, aluminum, turbines for power generations and earth-moving and agricultural equipment. Output and throughput in these industries is a top priority. To ensure processes run smoothly every time, plant managers and front-line supervisors have to remedy interruptions as soon as possible. That often requires elaborate systems to monitor performance and reach assembly, maintenance, warehouse and other kinds of workers around the clock.

I’ve walked into many manufacturing facilities, however, that were coated in Excel spreadsheets and charts because the processes and lines of communications mentioned above were still being done in an analog way, by hand. For instance, assembling a response crew to fix a service interruption, without an automated system in place, can take hours of a front-line supervisor’s time, and leave other parts of a plant understaffed or underpowered.

In these critical infrastructure sectors, union rules often come into play and supervisors navigate the rules manually. I’ve worked with companies that had union rules so complicated that assembling people to fill shifts or parts of shifts nearly always ends with the company paying out  grievances, even to the point it’s considered a necessary expense.

Oftentimes, the reason manufacturers stick with these outdated processes comes down to return on investment. Some worry that the cost of purchasing and implementing a new, automated system, as well as training employees how to use it, will negatively impact the bottom line.

This is where ARCOS comes in. We create automated systems that allow manufacturers to take these complicated analog processes and transform them into automatic ones, freeing up employees, front-line supervisors and plant managers to work on other tasks that increase overall productivity.\

We’ve developed resource management software that mirror the way companies work through years of helping America’s largest utilities and the airline industry. We take on tough challenges, do what we say and work as a team, and, in return, ARCOS has a 99-percent customer satisfaction rating. If you want an ROI, take advantage of the latest innovation in workflow automation. If you’re in the critical manufacturing sector, consider what ARCOS has to offer.

A framework of trust and technology puts crew convoys in high gear

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Jim Nowak’s latest Electric Light and Power article has been posted. Read about how you can get your crews in gear with trust and a touch of technology.  https://www.elp.com/Electric-Light-Power-Newsletter/articles/2019/03/a-framework-of-trust-and-technology-puts-crew-convoys-in-high-gear.html