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How to Automate Workforce Scheduling

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power magazine

If you’re a power plant supervisor, you’ve undoubtedly been forced to find a worker during off-hours on the spur of the moment. New tools are being used today that allow automating the callout process—and workforce schedule.

Last summer City Utilities (CU) of Springfield, Missouri, joined a list of power companies automating workforce scheduling and callout to better forecast crew availability, report on worker status, and respond to emergent work. CU’s four plants (a mix of coal-fired, gas, and combustion turbines) produce nearly 800 MW of power and employ approximately 120 electrical, mechanical, and operations personnel along with managers (Figure 1).

Review: Our Top Session Pick – Brad Baugh, Distributech

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We knew that Distributech was going to be big this year and you may have missed our Top Session Pick, so we created a Top Pick Review to help you catch up or just recall everything covered during this powerful session.

Brad Baugh, team leader for Alabama Power Company, Power Delivery – Distribution Technology, delivered a 30-minute presentation at 8 a.m. today at Distributech in San Antonio to approximately 65 people on the topic of ARCOS Damage Assessment. Background on his presentation can be found in our previous blog post.

Brad was pinch-hitting for his colleague Chris McClain who was dispatched to Puerto Rico to help with restoration. Brad’s presentation began by stating the problem with the open-loop, manual damage assessment approach in place at Alabama Power. He asked how many others had a similar situation, 25 percent of the attendees in the room raised hands. Brad said, “Even the best manual processes have room for gaining efficiency, especially through technology.”

Brad underscored the problem of multiple handoffs of maps and information between storm coordinators, damage evaluators and field crews, as well as the difficulty and delays interpreting handwritten assessments, especially when evaluators come from the ranks of non-engineers who aren’t able to distinguish between a 3-phase transformer bank and a 3-phase hydraulic re-closer.

Each piece of missing information, request for clarifications and search for broken equipment causes the assessment process to drag out. That, says Brad, delays getting the right resources to the right place, which “piles up costs and stretches out restoration time.”

Brad said that Alabama Power fixed this situation by deploying iPads and Damage Assessment (DA) to approximately 1,200 line crews and engineering and support staff in Dec. 2017. He described DA as a tool that’s “eliminated all the issues with our paper-based process.” According to Brad, DA is a mobile app and back-office system. He explained how DA takes advantage of GIS data, works on mobile devices. Brad says, storm coordinators use it to, for example, assign a user to a feeder and push assignments to their mobile device of choice; any others assigned to the same circuit would get the same feeder maps.

According to Brad, from the user perspective, they get a map showing a feeder; they can collect data, search for roads and see a job list of all the feeders a coordinator has assigned the damage evaluator. Brad said, “The lasso tool is the best because you can quickly report everything is broken in the big events like a hurricane, and the system handles the identification of each piece of equipment within the lasso. You don’t need to be an engineer; you simply report a piece of equipment is damaged, and DA does the identification and reporting back to the coordinator.”

This information is flowing from our GIS, said Brad, and is pulling in a small subset of GIS data to let an evaluator collect data; as long as they are standing in front of a pole, they don’t need to know if something is a transformer versus a re-closer. “They just select the device and tap that it’s damaged,” added Brad.

“The tool has worked really well for us,” remarked Brad. “And the one piece we hope to have completed by hurricane season is eliminating some data entry by coordinators between DA and our OMS.”

In closing, Brad said, “With DA, Alabama Power has . . .

  • Eliminated paper-based feeder maps
  • Done away with multiple, physical hand-offs between coordinators and evaluators and crews
  • Been able to reach evaluators before they leave their homes with electronic assignments
  • Eliminated handwritten notes, so evaluators and crews can mark work complete and coordinators can see the number of broken poles, overall damage, etc.
  • Reduced confusion and time to transpose notes on maps
  • Most importantly, sped up resource management decisions because there is real- and near-real-time information that was never there.”

Brad got the following questions:

Q: Is there any integration with WMS, like Maximo?
A: We have no integration in DA with Maximo, but we will have that OMS integration I mentioned, soon.

Q: Who makes the product?
A: ARCOS.

Q: What type of database is ARCOS running on?
A: Oracle.

Q: How does DA handle network disconnect?
A: As long as you have a feeder map downloaded, you can record damage, and it’s continually “syncing” all day long. A screen will show you how much you’ve synced to, but it’s doing it regularly. I’ve not had any trouble with synchronization or being slowed down or disconnected when using it in my role as an evaluator.

ARCOS VP of Sales receives Patriot Award for tremendous leadership

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The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Patriot Award is a prestigious award granted to supervisors that go above and beyond to support a military Service members commitment and dedication to the country. ARCOS’ own VP of Sales, Michael Brubaker, recently won the award for his leadership and encouragement of Master Sergeant, Andrew Livingston.

ARCOS strives to empower employees to live out the companies core values through their integrity and daily commitment to solving the utility industries toughest challenges. As an illustration of their teamwork and dedication, Livingston nominated Brubaker for his continued support of the actions and sacrifices Livingston makes in serving our country as an active duty Reservist in the United States Air Force.  ARCOS is proud to see its employees foster the core values that help us to deliver the best services to our customers and utilities.

Michael Brubaker Receives Patriot Award

ARCOS ACQUISITION OF MACROSOFT UTILITIES DIVISION: Frequently Asked Questions For ARCOS Customers

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If you would like to read the full announcement, please click here

1. What is ARCOS acquiring?
ARCOS will acquire the Macrosoft Utilities Industry Division which includes the Resources on-Demand (RoD) product, the
Outage Central web portal, and the team that has led all aspects of product development and customer support for RoD
customers.

2. What is Resources On-Demand (RoD)?
Macrosoft’s Resources on-Demand software tracks and supports logistics requests during large-scale restoration events.
ARCOS will draw from the features and functionality of RoD to aid utility managers who want to more efficiently link crews
with the equipment, lodging and other logistics needed for daily work and service restoration in the wake of major events.
ARCOS intends to leverage features and functionality from Resources on-Demand and ARCOS Crew ManagerTM to
provide enhanced capabilities to customers.

3. Why did ARCOS acquire the Macrosoft Utility Division?
ARCOS’ mission is to provide utilities with modern resource management solutions that enable utilities of all sizes to
easily collaborate using one unified system, so they can effectively respond, restore and report during local outages as
well as emergency events. The Macrosoft Utility Division supports this mission and will assist ARCOS in rapidly deploying
next generation resources and crew management products that include the latest modern technologies including cloudbased location services, leveraged use of GIS and mobile capabilities.

4. How does this acquisition impact my utility?
The acquisition should have no impact on ARCOS customers using our Resource Management Solutions. Crew Manager
and all existing products offered by ARCOS will continue to be supported.

5. Is ARCOS planning to continue support for the RoD product?
Yes. RoD customers can continue using the RoD product and will continue to receive support and updates from ARCOS.
ARCOS and the new team members acquired from Macrosoft will continue to offer and develop next generation resource
and crew management products that include the latest modern technologies including cloud-based location services,
leveraged use of GIS and mobile capabilities.

6. What is OutageCentral.com?
OutageCentral.com is a public, online portal designed for emergency resource personnel to get comprehensive outage
links to utility outage maps, severe weather alerts, and outage news. The site provides links to all major utilities and also
provides up-to-date news feeds. In the coming months we’ll add additional functionality to OutageCentral.com to ensure it
continues to become a valuable resource for all utilities.

7. How does ARCOS impact my industry?
Columbus, Ohio-based ARCOS LLC (ARCOS) is the North American leader in crew callout and resource management
SaaS software solutions for the utility industry. ARCOS automates crew callouts, damage assessment and inspection,
and crew and resource management during “blue sky” and emergency events, ultimately helping to restore energy faster,
yet safely, to communities. The award-winning solutions help utilities save time and money, while improving customer
satisfaction. The product suite helps utilities to more quickly and accurately forecast estimated time of restoration (ETR),
provides situational awareness into operations during an event and ultimately helps to improve service restoration and
reliability in addition to reducing costs.

ARCOS counts over 130 utilities as customers including the top 25 of America’s largest electric and gas utilities who
impact 87% of all U.S. electric consumers. ARCOS has a 100% referenceable customer base and 100% implementation
success rate for its products.
ARCOS software is backed by the “best-in-the-business” customer support team, providing 24/7/365 live support to our
customers anytime they need us. Utilities also use ARCOS resource management solutions to communicate with
emergency responders, regulators, media and their entire staff for important updates during an event.
Inc. Magazine has named ARCOS to its Inc. 5000 list multiple times for being one of the fastest growing private
companies in the United States. ARCOS’ promise is to meet and exceed customers’ needs by being responsive,
understanding their business issues and solving them with the most reliable solutions and service in the industry.
For additional questions please contact your ARCOS Account Manager or Lisa Steinhart, Vice President Marketing at
lsteinhart@arcos-inc.com

For utility crews, new ARCOS Location Services technology maximizes work time

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St. Petersburg, Florida – February 28, 2017 

At the 14th annual ARCOS Conference, which is being attended this year by nearly 60 electric, gas and power-generation utilities, Columbus, Ohio-based ARCOS® LLC, the North American leader in utility resource management software, stated it was adding Location Services technology to its Software-as-a-Service solutions to map the real-time location of utility crews. With Location Services, utility managers can continuously track users of the ARCOS Mobile app and store their location within any ARCOS product using a mobile device’s GPS technology.

“Until now, managers haven’t had a system for establishing either where a worker was coming from when accepting a callout or a crew’s exact location during a shift,” says Ted Schneider, chief technology officer for ARCOS. “Our automated callout solution has always expedited getting a worker on the clock. But with Location Services, managers can maximize a crew’s time while on the clock because they can see how far crews are from their next work site, which helps prioritize jobs.”

The Location Services technology integrates across all of the ARCOS products – including the ARCOS Callout Suite and ARCOS Crew Manager – and collects a lineman’s or mechanic’s location and the roster they are on, once they log onto ARCOS Mobile from their device. When a worker accepts a callout, a map within the ARCOS Mobile app, viewable via desktop computer or mobile device, pinpoints the real-time location of all the individuals who have accepted a callout, which is an alert to report for emergency or special work.

For utility’s using Crew Manager, Location Services converts a graphical list of crews assembled for different jobs onto a map. During daily operations, the Location Services-generated map shows supervisors where crews are minute by minute. The ARCOS Mobile app also records a worker’s location continuously, passing the data to a server to store for reporting.

“Location Services helps utility managers get their crews to as many job sites as possible during an 8- to 10-hour shift, which increases tool time and revenue,” adds Schneider.

The Location Services technology runs within the ARCOS Mobile app on the ARCOS Callout Suite as well as ARCOS Crew Manager.

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About ARCOS LLC

ARCOS is the North American leader in delivering crew callout and crew resource management SaaS solutions to the utility industry. ARCOS automates damage assessment and inspection, crew assembly daily and during emergencies, ultimately helping to restore energy faster, yet safely, to communities. The award-winning solutions help utilities save time and money, while improving customer satisfaction. Learn more about ARCOS emergency resource management software at www.arcos-inc.com.  ARCOS and Crew Manager are registered trademarks of ARCOS LLC.

 

 

 

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