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ARCOS Launches Free Portal for Utilities and Contractors to Easily Share Crew Rosters, Equipment, & More

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Columbus, Ohio – February 13, 2020 – ARCOS LLC has launched Resource Assist Lite™ for ARCOS utility customers and contractors to break through resource-management bottlenecks and safely speed up service restoration by efficiently sharing crews and equipment at the time and place of need. Resource Assist Lite overcomes the challenge of efficiently uploading and sharing crew rosters, so utility managers can plan for and secure the right number of FTEs for restoring service in the wake of any event, regardless of size. The portal – an easy-to-use and free, scaled-down version of ARCOS Resource Assist™ – supports utility mutual assistance, the resource planning work of Regional Mutual Assistance Groups (RMAG) and RAMP-UP, a tool for utilities to simultaneously request resources.

“As the RMAG process ends and utilities are matched with responding partners, a requesting utility can email each responder a link to the Resource Assist Lite portal; responders can then easily upload rosters,” says Jason Singer, director of Resource Management Services for ARCOS. “Resource Assist Lite does away with calls and emails between utilities and contractors clarifying and verifying spreadsheets.”

Without a tool like Resource Assist Lite, during a major event, a requesting utility might ask scores of utilities and contractors for crews. That request would translate into scores of different roster formats for the requesting utility to manipulate by hand and upload into one system of record; this work typically lasts several hours. With Resource Assist Lite, a utility defines the roster template when managers request crews and equipment. In turn, using a simple 3-step upload process, the responding utility or contractor knows exactly what data to input, in one place and with a format defined by the requesting utility.

“Although the industry has tried to implement a common roster format; it’s not been widely adopted, yet,” adds Singer. “Using one format for the industry would eliminate the bottleneck of vetting and manipulating rosters; it would streamline importing an ever-changing list of crews and equipment into crew management tools or homegrown systems.”

Until that time, ARCOS customers can request rosters via Resource Assist Lite from any contractor or responding utility, even those with whom they haven’t worked before. Resource Assist Lite also integrates with other ARCOS solutions such as Crew Manager®, enabling ARCOS customers to easily import crew rosters supplied via the free portal. 

“We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for a responding partner to upload a roster so the requesting utility can get a quick start on the restoration effort,” says Singer. “If that drives an industry standard for rostering, then all the better.”

With ARCOS Mobile Workbench, Grant PUD efficiently tackles daily work, trouble

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Columbus, Ohio – January 22, 2020 – ARCOS LLC, the market leader for utility and critical infrastructure resource-management solutions, has launched its ARCOS® Mobile Workbench solution for Grant County, Wash., Grant Public Utility District to help managers efficiently assign work to crews by automatically identifying not only a crew’s skill set but also which crew is nearest to the trouble. ARCOS integrated its Mobile Workbench with Grant PUD’s geographic information system (GIS), in part, to replace the utility’s outdated trouble reporting system. ARCOS Mobile Workbench now provides field crews with a single, simple solution to manage field order assignments, track work progress and collect work detail as it happens.

“Mobile Workbench gets our crews to the trouble by visually routing them there; crews can make notes, capture time and use the system to close out a ticket simply and efficiently,” says Derin Bluhm, chief technology officer for Grand PUD. “There are other field service solutions, but Workbench does exactly what we want without making things overly complicated.”

According to Bluhm, Grant PUD’s crews wanted a system that would allow them to identify and accept a job, complete it and move on to the next work order easily, regardless of work location or weather conditions.

“In the dead of a winter’s night, we don’t want crews fumbling with gloves and a laptop to accept work,” adds Bluhm. “With the Workbench app, supervisors broadcast work to the available crews in the field most able to perform it, then our crews poke their mobile device to accept the job via the app.  They can then see the necessary tasks and even dictate notes.”

The Mobile Workbench now running at Grant PUD works online and offline to give workers and supervisors directions, information on an asset, and its real-time location, so crews don’t have to pour over maps and printouts that may not reflect reality in the field. Using the app via a smartphone, crews can accept available work, self-assign new work or put a job in their queue. Bluhm says the Mobile Workbench improves safety because, even without automatic vehicle location (AVL) data from a vehicle tracking system, a utility can see where crews are in real time, making the app “a secondary source of crew location in an emergency situation.”

“With Mobile Workbench, we expect to reduce non-value-added windshield time by nearly 15 percent,” notes Bluhm. “Our folks were working with faxed service orders, sometimes adding a trip back to home base or using a personal device to take a picture of a fax and text it. We’ve eliminated at least one trip a day to the office, probably more.”

Grant PUD is expanding its use of Mobile Workbench to include damage assessment and as a source of record for all the work performed on a trouble call. Since May 2015, Grant PUD has automated its crew call outs via the SaaS-based ARCOS Callout and Scheduling Suite, recently expanding use of callout for its IT service desk after business hours.

City of Riverside utility will reduce paid wait time, expedite restoration with ARCOS

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Columbus, Ohio – January 7, 2020 – To help the City of Riverside, Calif., Public Utilities (RPU) efficiently respond to, restore and report on after-hours electric and water service emergencies, ARCOS LLC, the market leader for utility and critical infrastructure resource-management solutions, will implement its Resource Management software during the first quarter of 2020, replacing the city’s paper-based process for managing utility workers.

By relying on paper lists, phone calls and emails to determine the availability of crew members for restoration work, RPU crew callouts average one hour per event. RPU’s on-call troubleshooters are the first to arrive in an after-hours emergency. But, if a troubleshooter at an after-hours situation needs a crew, then RPU manually calls workers to build a crew with the right skills and seniority. With situations like broken water lines, the delay tied to a manual callout only adds to potential safety and liability issues.

With the ARCOS platform, RPU’s Grid Control Center can electronically contact and confirm the availability of workers in minutes, which reduces the time employees are paid to wait while RPU assembles a crew.

“ARCOS will not only reduce our paid wait time but also safely speed up our ability to respond to and restore customers during significant electric and water events,” said Richard de Aragon Jr., Electric Operations manager for RPU. “We’ve calculated that with ARCOS each year we can save $113,900 in paid wait time, and recover $2,500 in customer meter revenue.”

By implementing the ARCOS SaaS solution across RPU, the utility will save its Grid Control Center from gathering crew data, including a lineman or substation electrician’s availability and skill set. The ARCOS system will also automatically track and account for overtime, which eliminates a manual callout system prone to errors and grievances.

“The ARCOS solution is a game-changer for us because it logs and records what’s happened, so we electronically see the result of every callout and automatically follow complex business rules related to how our utility and union want to build crews,” adds de Aragon. “For the members of our union, we expect a more equitable distribution of overtime.”

ARCOS RosterApps to track time, attendance for Piedmont

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Columbus, Ohio – December 3, 2019 – ARCOS LLC signed a contract with Salisbury, Md., Piedmont Airlines, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Airlines Group (AAG), to expand the use of its ARCOS RosterApps shift management suite, including a time-keeping solution, for the air carriers’ mechanics and back-office workers. Since 2011, the ARCOS RosterApps SaaS suite has helped Piedmont ground staff automate and centralize the management of work schedules.

“We began using ARCOS RosterApps nearly 10 years ago to automate shift trades and schedule work, which had always been an administrative burden managed with pen and paper,” said Brian Wemple, director of Planning and Support for Piedmont. “As we used the software, we understood its functionality could be beneficial in other ways, for other work groups.”

By expanding the contract, Piedmont will automate shift-bidding and work schedules for its maintenance group and administrative staff in the same way that ground handling staff have used RosterApps for years. With the newly added ARCOS RosterApps time and attendance capabilities, Piedmont will also integrate the ARCOS solution with Workday, the maker of Piedmont’s payroll system.

“The ARCOS suite will enhance the way we create pay records to send to our payroll system for accurate, efficient payroll tracking,” added Wemple.

After Piedmont learned that its time and attendance solution provider would discontinue support for their product, the airline began a search for a new solution. Chief among the features that Piedmont wanted in a new time and attendance system was reliability, or uptime. Piedmont also wanted a system that employees could easily learn and navigate. After analyzing several solutions, the airline chose ARCOS RosterApps. Once implemented, Piedmont’s employees will manage schedules and time and attendance data via ARCOS RosterApps from a company computer at their respective station or on a handheld device.

“A key to improving flight operations is getting planes back in the air efficiently; air carriers can improve efficiency with centralized, automated shift management,” said John Brant, managing director of RosterApps Projects for ARCOS. “Automating shift management frees up Piedmont supervisors to analyze schedules, so they can quickly place the right workers, with the right skills when and where needed.”

Saskatchewan’s Co-op Refinery Complex Taps ARCOS for Shift-Management Needs

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Columbus, Ohio – December 2, 2019 – Saskatchewan-based Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC), one of Canada’s largest refineries, has signed a contract with ARCOS LLC to implement the ARCOS Resource Management Suite for automating shift management and emergency callouts at its facility. The Refinery currently uses a manual system to contact up to 1,200 craft and non-craft workers, fill shifts, manage shift changes and account for workers’ rest periods, seniority and overtime.

The CRC, like most refineries, operates 24/7 year-round to process crude oil to produce more than 130,000 barrels of gasoline, diesel and propane, among other products, each day for customers throughout Western Canada. With CRC’s manual process, Refinery supervisors meet daily with team members in Maintenance and Process to manage availability and schedules. After building these lists, if, for example, an emergent issue arises, supervisors then review and call contacts on the list, while trying to adhere to established work agreements.

“There was a need to automate callout, primarily for filling shifts on the floor of the Refinery, even before we knew of ARCOS,” said Jan Franken, director of Information Technology at CRC. “Our shift-management and call-out processes are inefficient in comparison to what the ARCOS software can provide. The software will allow supervisors to focus on their primary duties instead of handling nuanced scheduling issues.”

With ARCOS, CRC plans to put shift changes into the hands of employees with mobile technology and automated rules that exactly mirror union agreements. By computerizing scheduling and callouts, CRC supervisors will eliminate trips to the plant floor to meet groups and create and update paper rosters. The ARCOS system’s ability to integrate with CRC’s other systems will enable real-time reporting of overtime hours and absences and establish a consistent application of company policies and procedures, all from a mobile device.

ARCOS will also implement its Incident Manager software for CRC to automate the planning, staffing and scaling of resources for emergency plans. The CRC can also tap Incident Manager to route information to an incident-command-system management team and instantaneously communicate with employees and contractors.

“Our vetting process for ARCOS included a reference from Toronto Hydro. They indicated they’ve been successfully using ARCOS’s Resource Management solutions for a number of years,” said Kaumba Kaumba, CRC’s senior applications manager and project leader for the ARCOS implementation. “After considering other workforce management software systems, we knew only the ARCOS suite could handle the complex nature of scheduling requirements.”

To Manage Growth and Restore Power Faster, Texas Coop will Turn to ARCOS

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Columbus, Ohio – November 5, 2019 – ARCOS LLC, the market leader for utility and critical infrastructure resource-management solutions, will implement its ARCOS Callout and Scheduling Suite this winter to automate Bastrop, Texas-based Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative’s after-hours crew call outs. According to Bluebonnet managers, the cooperative’s customer base is growing at a rate of approximately 500 meters per month; six years ago, the utility set about 1,500 meters annually.

“Our western territory touches Austin, so we’re seeing more growth. We believe the ARCOS software will have time-saving advantages for us from the get-go,” says Paul Herzog, operations superintendent for Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative.

The ARCOS suite simplifies an electric cooperative’s ability to respond to and restore outages and report on the outcome. ARCOS will replace Bluebonnet’s manual call out process that includes control center operations staff juggling an online calendar system, phone calls and lists to find available workers to respond to after-hours outages. With Bluebonnet’s existing manual system, finding, assembling and dispatching a crew after business hours with the right skill set to repair a broken pole or transformer can take up to an hour.

“During our daily shifts, we rely on a radio system to dispatch crews. But after normal business hours, ARCOS will be our system of record for automatically calling out and scheduling approximately 150 journeymen, substation technicians and helpers,” notes Herzog. “In the future, we’re planning to call out contractors with ARCOS.”

As Bluebonnet’s level of operations goes from normal to storm planning and, ultimately, major events, the cooperative will use the ARCOS system to check lineworkers’ availability and call them. According to Herzog, with ARCOS in place, control center operators can launch a callout from a keyboard or mobile device and then return to analyzing messages and details about an outage to help prepare crews for what they can expect on site.

About Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative

Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative is one of the largest electric cooperatives in Texas and has been serving its members since 1939. Bluebonnet serves more than 102,000 meters, and owns and maintains 11,750 miles of power lines, located across more than 3,800 square miles within 14 Central Texas counties. Bluebonnet’s service area stretches from Travis County to Washington County, and from Milam County to Gonzales County. For more information about Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative, go to bluebonnet.coop and follow the co-op on Facebook and Twitter.

With Help from Utility Customers, ARCOS Innovates Resource Planning, Sharing

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Columbus, Ohio – October 8, 2019 – In the fourth quarter of 2019, ARCOS LLC, the market leader for utility and critical infrastructure resource-management solutions, will unveil new resource planning and sharing capabilities with the launch of Resource Planner™, Event Awareness™ and Resource Assist Lite™, a free version of ARCOS’s leading contractor management solution Resource Assist™. Resource Assist Lite will be an easy-to-use, web-based tool available to ARCOS utility customers and participating contractors to help the utility industry respond, repair and restore service faster during mutual assistance and other major events, such as hurricanes and wildfires. Available as a SaaS solution, these capabilities build on the ARCOS Resource Assist platform, which launched in 2018 for contractor management. The new capabilities expand a utility’s ability to plan for and focus on damage assessment, repair, restoration and the safety of all crews by minimizing the manual planning, entry and tracking of emergency resources.

When utilities prepare for events like hurricanes, the planning process includes identifying where managers can obtain resources (e.g., crews). Utility managers and contractors work closely by phone to refine the number and type of crews available and the distance over which crews will travel. Information on available crews, equipment and material comes to requesting utilities in many formats (e.g., spreadsheets, phone calls, emails). Due to the manual nature of managing this information, during major events, managers and staff can spend up to 100 hours to obtain crews, assess skills, enter data, make calls and send emails to vet who and what is truly available and disperse the information in a consistent way.

“Manual processes around resource planning and acquisition are a bottleneck for restoration,” says Bill Brackett, vice president of Product for ARCOS. “With our new Resource Planner solution, we’ll enable utilities to better model crews and logistical needs; we’ll also give utilities and contractors a streamlined way to account for and exchange equipment, material and crew rosters including non-employee resources, such as contract line crews. With our ‘Event Awareness’ capabilities, utilities can roll up and catalog the planning and resource management activity that occurs during an event, start to finish.”

“The complex process of getting the right mix of resources for quickly and safely restoring power is far-reaching,” adds Bruce Duff, chief executive officer of ARCOS. “For example, our data shows a utility with one million customer outages can require, on average, 3,200 resources. From what we’ve seen, companies can burn up to seven or eight person days managing and documenting resources by hand. With guidance from our customers, we continue to add capabilities to our resource planning tools to eliminate bottlenecks.”

With Resource Assist Lite, ARCOS offers utility customers and any participating contractor a way to easily upload and share crews, equipment and more, so they can plan for and secure the right number of FTEs for restoration. Utility customers using the ARCOS Crew Manager® software will also see rosters flow from the portal without retyping data. The portal supports
utility mutual assistance and complements the resource planning work of Regional Mutual Assistance Groups.

“The soon-to-launch capabilities, along with Resource Assist Lite, will help the industry overcome a long-standing challenge,” Duff says. “A lot of our success comes from partnering with customers and other utility professionals who voluntarily give us time and advice to help their peers. Providing these new resource planning and sharing capabilities is one way we can pay it forward.”

Lincoln Electric System Picks ARCOS to Speed Response, Restoration

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – September 10, 2019 – ARCOS® LLC will implement its Callout & Scheduling, Crew Manager and Resource Assist solutions to centralize and automate Nebraska-based Lincoln Electric System’s manual process for responding to power outages ranging from a single broken pole to major events. According to LES, the ARCOS platform can expedite contacting and dispatching crews to respond to outages with the goal of decreasing LES’s System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI).

“While we’ve always been successful getting crews to where they need to be to restore power, we have a very manual, cumbersome process for doing it,” says Fredrick J. Rumery, coordinator for T&D Construction at LES. “Especially when it’s all-hands on deck, our manual process is time-consuming when contacting, securing and reporting on the status of crews.”

Lincoln Electric System’s 500 employees service approximately 200 square miles within Nebraska’s Lancaster County, including the city of Lincoln. When an after-hours emergency occurs, LES dispatchers alert troubleshooters. If a job requires more work than a troubleshooter can handle alone, a dispatcher will call a duty supervisor who turns to a paper list of crew members updated and printed daily. The duty supervisor is typically a design engineer, construction manager or substation manager. These individuals are not always best suited for deciding what type and make-up of crew is best for any given job.

“Each week we provide our duty supervisors with a packet showing who’s available; if there’s an after-hours callout, they’ll mark who they contacted and turn it in the next morning for data entry by our operations staff,” adds Rumery. “There can be errors with a paper process.”

According to LES, the utility is launching the ARCOS platform in November beginning with the Callout & Scheduling solution to create a central repository for all crew data. Once launched, Rumery expects to see the average time to call out and secure a four-man crew drop from 45 minutes to a few minutes or less. LES will also replace its homegrown system for tracking the status of crews during normal business hours with Crew Manager. The Crew Manager system will give LES a real-time look at where its crews are working as well as how managers can deploy crews for changing circumstances such as forecasted storms or construction projects.

“During a storm event, the ARCOS platform will track when employees work and provide visual warnings when crews reach the end of their 16-hours-on, 8-hours-off schedule,” adds Rumery. “ARCOS starts the clock automatically when an employee is called in and accounts for their work. Currently, this is done by staff using spreadsheets.”

LES will also implement ARCOS Resource Assist to replace the computer spreadsheets the utility relies on to solicit and intake resources from contractors and neighboring utilities during major events. The data entry involved in capturing how many crews are available and inputting their make-up and equipment takes LES operations staff added hours better used elsewhere.

“Crew Manager and Resource Assist are going to speed up restoration and increase efficiency,” says Rumery. “The reporting capabilities will help us show our union partners exactly how many crew members and crews are called and working. Reporting everything accurately will be a huge benefit because it gets the right people for the right jobs equitably and efficiently.”

ARCOS Named to Inc. 5000 List for Fifth Time

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For the fifth time, Inc. magazine has named ARCOS® LLC to the Inc. 5000, a list of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States. This year, ARCOS ranked No. 3,295 on the list. ARCOS delivers SaaS solutions for:  managing resources; ensuring accurate, compliant shift scheduling; and automatically planning for all types of events.

“Appearing on this year’s Inc. 5000 list is due, in part, to our work expanding our resource management cloud-based platform for utility companies and helping other critical infrastructure industries like airlines and manufacturing automate the way they manage their resources,” said ARCOS CEO Bruce Duff. “There’s always a demand to make sure people are where they need to be to restore service, keep planes flying or run production lines.”

According to Inc. Media, “Companies that made the list, on average, have grown sixfold since 2015.”

Complete results of the Inc. 5000, including company profiles and an interactive database that can be sorted by industry, region, and other criteria, is at http://www.inc.com/inc5000.

“This is your fifth time on the Inc. 5000, which is a truly extraordinary accomplishment,” wrote Inc. Editor-In-Chief James Ledbetter in a letter to Duff. “Of the tens of thousands of companies that have applied to the Inc. 5000 over the years, only a fraction have made the list more than once. A mere four percent of companies have made the list five times.”

The 2019 Inc. 5000 is ranked according to percentage revenue growth when comparing 2015 to 2018. To qualify, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2015. They had to be U.S.-based, privately held, for profit, and independent—not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies—as of December 31, 2018. The minimum revenue required for 2015 is $100,000; the minimum for 2018 is $2 million.

Envoy Air to take off with ARCOS RosterApps airline scheduling

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – June 28, 2019 – ARCOS® LLC has been selected to implement its ARCOS RosterApps workforce management solution at Envoy Air Inc., replacing and automating the air carrier’s multiple computer and paper systems that schedule and track time and attendance for 13,000 ground employees. Envoy currently relies on a custom-built automated time and attendance system and manual processes requiring several thousand hours per year in staff time to maintain.

ARCOS RosterApps will give Envoy managers a centralized, automated way to track overtime and schedules, update policies and ensure compliance with changing regulations. Managers will see overtime requests in real-time, so they can compare requests against available budgets. Currently, managers receive overtime calculations one week after each pay period ends, making it cumbersome to manage potential cost overruns.

“We’re rolling out the system in four phases for our agents, fleet service clerks, aircraft mechanics and managers,” said Stephen Collins, manager for attendance and central administration at Envoy. “RosterApps will make our scheduling process transparent, which means each step of the scheduling process will be visible, in real-time, for employees and managers. It’s incredibly easy to use, too.”

According to Collins, the product was intuitive enough that Collins, his coworkers and a test group needed no training. In contrast, says Collins, the current scheduling system, comprised of manual and computerized steps, requires new employees to take hours of training to learn the scheduling and bidding process.

With the mobile component of ARCOS RosterApps, ground staff will be able to manage schedules, shift requests and bids from computers or their smartphones, at work or home. Notifications will come via email and text, and supervisors can approve and deny requests, assign overtime and see a complete shift history for reporting and analysis.

“It gives us consistency across approximately 150 locations, which is difficult to achieve now,” added Collins. “All of our shift bidding is now done on paper, which means each quarter up to 4,000 employees have to go to a hub administration office, select a shift they want to work and check back on approvals. With RosterApps, all that will happen automatically; the system will assign employees a time to log in, and they’ll bid on schedules from a mobile device.”

ARCOS RosterApps will integrate with existing systems to ensure Envoy continues to strictly adhere to the requirements of its work agreements with labor unions. “We believe RosterApps will make it much simpler and faster to ensure an equitable scheduling process for ground staff,” said Collins.

“To efficiently manage exceptions, you need a consistent view of everyone’s schedules,” adds John Brant, managing director of RosterApps Projects for ARCOS. “With RosterApps, Envoy will have scheduling flexibility, control and dynamic updates; it’s self-service, yet mirrors union and company policies.”

About Envoy Air Inc.

Envoy Air Inc. is the largest wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines Group, operating more than 185 aircraft on 1,000 daily flights to over 150 destinations. The company’s more than 17,000 employees provide regional flight service to American Airlines under the American Eagle brand and ground handling services for many American flights. The company was founded in 1998 as American Eagle Airlines, Inc. following the merger of several smaller regional carriers to create one of the largest regional airlines in the world.

About ARCOS LLC

ARCOS is a leader in delivering SaaS solutions for managing resources, ensuring accurate, compliant shift scheduling and automatically planning for all types of events. The ARCOS solution reports on the up-to-the-minute location and status of equipment and crews via mobile technology for utilities and other critical infrastructure like airlines, manufacturers and industrial facilities. The ARCOS resource management platform helps organizations save time and money, while improving customer satisfaction and the efficiency, safety and accuracy of operations. Learn about ARCOS resource management software at https://www.arcos-inc.com.