Dakota Electric Association automates call outs, boosts safety and efficiency

By August 20, 2020Press Releases

COLUMBUS, Ohio – August 20, 2020 – ARCOS® LLC has implemented its ARCOS Callout and Scheduling Suite for Farmington, Minn.-based Dakota Electric Association, so the utility’s dispatch operators can better prepare crews working on after-hours emergencies in the field instead of spending time to call out available crews. Before putting in place ARCOS, Dakota Electric Association operators would scour handwritten lists and make phone calls to find crews available to meet first responders at an emergency outside of regular business hours. Since last fall, operators, supervisors and other authorized managers have launched hundreds of automated callouts from their laptops, tablets and mobile devices. For each callout, the ARCOS suite mirrors the union and business rules Dakota Electric Association has in place.

“With an outage, there’s a lot of automated data coming; using ARCOS to call out crews means operators can now process things like SCADA data, sift through it and work with our OMS to pinpoint what’s out,” said John Thurmes, control center manager for Dakota Electric Association. “The operator has more time to locate an open circuit, zero in on a probable component and tell a crew where to patrol, which improves efficiency and safety.”

The utility has uploaded information into ARCOS for more than 100 workers, including information technology staff, who the company can identify by job description and availability for after-hours emergencies. According to Thurmes, the utility also used ARCOS to set up and test emergency notifications for field crews, IT staff and office workers should events related to the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 require outreach to employees. The ARCOS solution ties into Dakota Electric Associations’ HR system to maintain up-to-date employee contact information. And the utility integrated ARCOS with Kronos; so, when employees punch out of work, they automatically make themselves available for a callout, unless they indicate otherwise.

“Manual callouts were long and painful, and operators could spend up to two hours finding an available crew after hours,” added Thurmes. “Operators now push a button, launch a callout and, in the meantime, they can spend time analyzing things like a possible overloading of a transformer or gathering information about the outage from a member’s call; they can work with our SCADA system and, if needed, close a circuit remotely ahead of the crew’s report from the field.

“ARCOS is worth its weight in gold for tracking who’s reacted to a call out and the outcome of the job,” said Thurmes.

About Dakota Electric Association

A customer-owned, non-profit utility since 1937, Dakota Electric Association provides electricity to more than 109,000 members throughout Dakota County and portions of Goodhue, Rice and Scott counties. Dakota Electric, a Touchstone Energy cooperative, serves its member-owners with integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to community.

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