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Stay up-to-date on the latest happenings at ARCOS, the leader in utility resource management solutions.

Great River Energy picks ARCOS automated callout for control center staff

By Press Releases

COLUMBUS, Ohio – March 23, 2021 – This summer, ARCOS® LLC, the market leader for utility and critical infrastructure resource-management solutions, will roll out its ARCOS Callout and Scheduling Suite for Minn.-based cooperative Great River Energy, a provider of wholesale electricity to 28 member-owned cooperatives in Minnesota and Wisconsin, so the co-op can automatically identify available employees after business hours and direct them to restoration work.

“For years, Great River Energy has made manual calls for communications between our control center and field crews,” said Mark Peterson, system operations manager for Great River Energy. “Automating callouts will save time for our control center staff, so they can focus on their core responsibility, operations.”

With Great River Energy’s manual, after-hours callout process, control center operators search (one call at a time) for available employees. Once they reach a worker, they describe the problem and dispatch them. Staff manually input worker status through established work rules tied to seniority, hours worked, scheduled time off and proximity to a job site. A recent winter storm sped up the decision by Great River Energy to take the chore of manual callouts off the operators, so they could automatically launch calls with ARCOS and focus, instead, on front-end analysis linked to restoring substations, identifying transmission infrastructure damage, or starting peaking generation.

“Our operators have tools to pinpoint issues and analyze conditions, but it takes concentration and dedicated time to make the most of these tools,” added Peterson. “Every minute spent on a manual callout is a distraction that reduces situational awareness in the control center.”

Approximately 200 Great River Energy employees will be listed in the ARCOS System including control center workers who log in to launch and analyze callouts. According to Great River Energy, managers will measure the success of automated callout in two ways: First, the number of people reached through the system (versus a manual process) and the success rate for each call; second, how much time automation shaves off the callout process per event.

ARCOS Receives Strategic Growth Investment from Vista Equity Partners

By News Articles, Press Releases

Utility and critical infrastructure resource-management leader will accelerate hiring, drive innovation in core products and expand suite of offerings

COLUMBUS, Ohio March 17, 2021 – ARCOS® LLC, the market leader for utility and critical infrastructure resource-management solutions, today announced it has signed a definitive agreement to receive a majority investment from Vista Equity Partners, a leading global investment firm focused on market-leading enterprise software, data and technology-enabled businesses. ARCOS and Vista will partner to accelerate investment in hiring, continue driving innovation in its core products and expand its suite of offerings – solving the toughest resource management challenges for utilities and other critical infrastructure industries.

Since 2005, ARCOS’ technology has helped hundreds of the largest electric and gas utilities and airlines manage their crews and resources, especially in unplanned scenarios where resources are needed on short notice. ARCOS helps these organizations identify which crews and resources are available, reduce the time needed to assemble crews and perform callouts, and confront a host of other resource-management challenges such as overseeing contractors and managing service disruption incidents.

“For essential workers in industries like utilities and critical infrastructure, the ability to assess resources and respond quickly can make the difference between success and failure,” said Bruce Duff, CEO of ARCOS. “With Vista’s partnership, we will continue to bring our best-in-breed technology solutions to these industries, as well as explore new areas for product expansion and help our clients continue to modernize practices and processes, so they can respond and restore services quickly. We are thrilled to have Vista’s backing as we chart our next chapter.”

“The partnership between ARCOS and the utility industry has been one of collaboration that has provided us with solutions to effectively respond to, restore and report both planned and unplanned events that occur every day of the week,” said John Tyler Anthony, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Pepco Holdings. “We look forward to continuing to work with ARCOS as they begin their new partnership with Vista Equity Partners, and we appreciate their continued focus to expand their products and ensure comprehensive resource management capabilities for us and other critical infrastructure industries. Providing safe, reliable and affordable service is the industry’s primary mission and having technology providers like ARCOS is critical to our collective success.”

“Bruce and his team have built an indispensable business by helping their customers be nimbler and more responsive in managing their resources,” said Patrick Severson, senior managing director in Vista’s Foundation Fund. “ARCOS’ customers are providing power, water, gas and other essential services to people across North America, and these customers rely on ARCOS to keep those services online. The ARCOS team is extremely driven by this mission, and we are excited to help them have an even greater impact by investing in their people, products and customers.”

ARCOS and Vista Equity Partners expect the transaction to close in the second quarter of 2021. The investment by Vista follows The Riverside Company’s investment in ARCOS in 2013. William Blair & Company and Lightning Partners served as the financial advisor to ARCOS and The Riverside Company, and Harris Williams & Co. served as the exclusive financial advisor to Vista Equity Partners. ARCOS management will remain meaningful shareholders of the company along with Vista Equity Partners.

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. Follow ARCOS on LinkedIn, @ARCOS LLC, and Twitter, @ARCOS

About Vista Equity Partners

Vista is a leading global investment firm with more than $73 billion in assets under management as of September 30, 2020. The firm exclusively invests in enterprise software, data and technology-enabled organizations across private equity, permanent capital, credit, and public equity strategies, bringing an approach that prioritizes creating enduring market value for the benefit of its global ecosystem of investors, companies, customers and employees. Vista’s investments are anchored by a sizable long-term capital base, experience in structuring technology-oriented transactions and proven, flexible management techniques that drive sustainable growth. Vista believes the transformative power of technology is the key to an even better future – a healthier planet, a smarter economy, a diverse and inclusive community and a broader path to prosperity. Further information is available at vistaequitypartners.com. Follow Vista on LinkedIn, @Vista Equity Partners, and Twitter, @Vista_Equity.

Media Contacts:

ARCOS
Bill Perry
bperry@arcos-inc.com
614-975-7538

Vista Equity Partners
Dafna Tapiero
vista@laurelstrategies.com
202-776-7776

SMECO digitizes planning, tracking crew moves with ARCOS Crew Manager

By Press Releases

COLUMBUS, Ohio – February 22, 2021 – ARCOS® LLC, the market leader for utility and critical infrastructure resource-management solutions, has implemented ARCOS Crew Manager® at Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO), so utility managers can not only see where, what and how long the co-op’s 40 service and construction crews are working but also create a digital snapshot of which crews and equipment are available minutes, hours or even weeks ahead.

“Crew Manager is an evolution from the ARCOS Callout and Scheduling Suite we installed in 2006,” said Ronnie Wise, Distribution Operations manager for SMECO. “ARCOS callouts use algorithms to call crews in the order our business processes dictate; with ARCOS, we’ve assembled 14-person crews in 24 minutes. Before that we made callouts by hand, one call at a time – it could take an hour to build a crew.”

During normal business hours, SMECO’s distribution system operators (DSOs) use Crew Manager alongside the work and outage management system to keep tabs on crews’ field work and customer appointments. Crew foremen, which SMECO calls operations supervisors, begin their shift and enter the status of crew members into Crew Manager. The software then tracks and computes hours worked, breaks and availability – on a dashboard for the DSOs.

To manage resources for a forecasted storm, SMECO’s managers access a visual display of the status, skill sets and location of crews and equipment in Crew Manager via color-coded icons. Managers drag and drop icons across the utility’s territory to create different restoration scenarios. If a scenario shows a gap because, say, a crew will have worked too many hours or there aren’t enough resources to cover a set of circuits, SMECO can reorder its plans in Crew Manager and quickly see an alternative or know precisely how many contractors to call on.

SMECO has also relied on Crew Manager during the COVID-19 pandemic to split its crews into blue and gold teams to better manage, or mitigate, a potential outbreak. The system allows DSOs to quickly see if a field assignment might cause crews from different teams to inadvertently converge at a work site, which helps to prevent crossover.

DSOs also rely on the crew management software to set up attributes, or badges, for resources. For instance, next to a truck’s serial number in Crew Manager, a DSO can link a color-coded badge reading “digger-derrick” or “single-bucket truck.” Before Crew Manager, SMECO relied on an ever-evolving number scheme to track truck types and other equipment.

Wise added, “Cooperatives that don’t have these systems will ask, ‘Why do I need to buy a software system to make calls and track crews when I have dispatchers?’

“We gave our DSOs these tools, so they can put more time into researching what crews need, or formulating a game plan for restoration,” said Wise. “In the midst of chaos, it’s made life less chaotic.”

Central Georgia EMC trims time off outages with automated callout

By Press Releases

COLUMBUS, Ohio – November 9, 2020 – ARCOS® LLC, the market leader for utility and critical infrastructure resource-management solutions, has implemented its ARCOS Callout and Scheduling Suite for Central Georgia Electric Membership Corporation, so the co-op can automatically contact available workers to restore service in the wake of any sudden event or an incident outside normal business hours.

“We run a very lean organization and had a pop-up storm requiring an all-hands call for help; using ARCOS, more than 80 percent of our workforce responded within two minutes,” said John Harkness, senior vice president of Distribution Services at Jackson, Ga.-based Central Georgia EMC (CGEMC). “With our manual method, that all-hands call would’ve taken up to an hour to complete; ARCOS helped us restore power 30 to 45 minutes sooner, which has a positive impact on CAIDI, SAIDI, customer satisfaction and revenue.”

Before installing the ARCOS SaaS platform, CGEMC – a non-union, 59,000-meter customer-owned electric cooperative serving 14 counties south of Atlanta – relied on its system operators and supervisors to manually call crews to find workers available for restoration work. With ARCOS, CGEMC system operators push a button on their keyboard or mobile device and let the automated callout system organize the calls for help, which has also improved the rate at which workers accept calls.

“Our employees wanted a better way of knowing when they’re needed after hours and where they fall in the callout rotation,” added Harkness. “We wanted a seamless, efficient way to contact employees outside normal working hours, get a response and track the outcome.”

According to Harkness, his line department’s employee performance appraisals, and ultimately salary adjustments, rely partially on how line workers respond to after-hours callouts. Prior to ARCOS, the co-op’s operators and crew leaders documented (often with pen and paper) whom they called, how often and the response. Typically, the process occurred outside the office, at a crew leader’s home by phone requiring the caller to bring documentation into the office and type notes into a database. Documentation errors could undermine employees’ confidence in performance and salary reviews. Since automating callout tracking, Harkness says the errors are gone and employee confidence has improved. Using ARCOS reports, the co-op publishes a weekly scorecard of callout responses on an electronic billboard that employees see by job classification. The co-op resets the scorecard as each performance review period begins.

“Some of our lower performers in years past are now doing far better and pointing to the scoreboard,” remarks Harkness.

Inside the ARCOS software, CGEMC was able to construct a variety of callout types:  on-call; volunteer; assistance-needed; and all-call. The co-op can launch each type in seconds and get a response in minutes.

“Automation gets everyone equally participating in callouts and improves our restoration times, which means happy customers and reductions in CAIDI and SAIDI,” says Harkness.

Harkness also says automating the callout process gave his co-op a way to think about how the non-union, member-owned utility does business. Even before ARCOS, CGEMC discussed speeding up response times and improving the capture of data related to productivity, so the co-op could take the burden off the staff. With a non-union workforce, CGEMC had flexibility in transforming its callout approach. Implementing ARCOS provided CGEMC with the chance to improve processes for its line department and managers.

“We knew we wanted to better distribute work and reward performance, but we couldn’t manage that with a manual system,” recalls Harkness. “Automation, specifically ARCOS, gave us software to track exactly what’s happening and acknowledge and reward employees for their contributions.”

 

For 11th time, ARCOS makes list of Central Ohio’s 50 fastest-growing companies

By Press Releases

COLUMBUS, Ohio – October 20, 2020 – ARCOS LLC has again earned a place on the Columbus Business First Fast 50 – the annual list of the 50 fastest-growing emerging companies in Central Ohio. This year ARCOS ranks #27, a climb from #38 when ARCOS appeared on the list in 2018. ARCOS has made the list 11 times since its first appearance on the list in 2007. Of the nearly 500 companies on the list since it began in 1996, only two – Progressive Medical, Inc. (14 years) and Sequent (12 years) – have appeared more times than ARCOS. The Fast 50 Award recognizes companies for financial growth and performance over the past three years.

“One of our founding principles is:  We take on the toughest challenges for our customers whether they work at a utility company, airline or in another critical infrastructure industry,” said Bruce Duff, chief executive officer of ARCOS LLC. “Our employees’ willingness to work as a team and go to great lengths to help our customers is rewarding personally and professionally, and it’s part of why ARCOS regularly earns a place on the Fast 50 list.”

ARCOS’s early success came from automating a complex, manual process that utility managers relied on for identifying and calling out crews for after-hours emergencies and restoration. ARCOS went on to win business from the largest investor-owned utilities, municipalities and co-operatives; approximately 90 percent of U.S. households are served by utilities that use ARCOS technology. ARCOS next deployed its solutions for crew scheduling and management as well as damage assessment to help gas and water utilities. ARCOS then turned to helping the airline industry save millions of dollars by automating the way managers fill complex schedules (often disrupted by weather) for flight crews and ground crews. ARCOS has recently implemented its workforce management and scheduling solutions for manufacturers and logistics companies.

ARCOS resource management solutions help customers respond to after-hours and major events; restore service by quickly and safely assembling crews; and report the outcome to executives, employees, first responders, regulators, media and the public. The ARCOS® Callout and Scheduling Suite is a SaaS platform for managers to automatically assemble available crews, analyze crew response and report outcomes. The ARCOS Damage Assessment solution helps utilities shorten the process of surveying damage caused by major events like hurricanes from days to hours. ARCOS Resource Assist™ automates the manual process of requesting and managing third-party resources and equipment.

ARCOS Supports MultiSpeak Tech Spec to Help Utility Munis, Coops

By Press Releases

COLUMBUS, Ohio – September 22, 2020 – ARCOS ® LLC, the market leader for utility and critical infrastructure resource-management solutions, has signed an agreement to support the MultiSpeak® technology specification, which municipal and co-operative utilities and participating vendors rely on to standardize the exchange of data between software systems that handle things like field work, outage management and distribution operations. ARCOS is now offering utility managers the MultiSpeak interface as part of its resource-management platform. The interface will help utility managers easily take data about a power outage from, for example, NISC’s Outage Management System (OMS), create a work order and assign that order to the closest available crew via ARCOS Mobile Workbench.

If, for instance, a hurricane damaged hundreds of meters, web services available through the MultiSpeak specification could carry XML-formatted data from the utility’s OMS and launch an automated callout for damage assessors via the ARCOS Damage Assessment solution. Once in the field, damage assessors using mobile devices and GIS could send data back to the utility via data packets that would in turn launch a callout for repair crews via the ARCOS Callout and Scheduling Suite.

“MultiSpeak links a utility’s enterprise software systems and eliminates duplication of data entry, and manual processes, to give managers one picture of what’s happening,” says Lisa Federico, vice president of Marketing & Product for ARCOS. “By supporting MultiSpeak, we’ve done the upfront work of building a connection between our platform and other software systems before our customers buy ARCOS’s solution.”

The benefit for utility customers is that ARCOS is delivering a pre-defined connection point between its resource-management software and the outage management systems, SCADA systems and work management systems commonly used by many cooperative and municipal utilities. By adopting the MultiSpeak specification, neither ARCOS nor a utility’s information technology team have to undertake a software services engagement or develop APIs.

“Without this integration, a utility would have to build its own interface between systems or just rely on manual, time-consuming tasks like phone calls, entering and rekeying data and watching minutes slip by that could be better used to restore service,” adds Federico.

MultiSpeak is an initiative of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, or NRECA.

Dakota Electric Association automates call outs, boosts safety and efficiency

By Press 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.

ARCOS earns place on Inc. 5000 list for sixth time

By Press Releases

Columbus, Ohio – August 19, 2020 – For the sixth time, Inc. magazine has named ARCOS® LLC to the Inc. 5000. This year, ARCOS ranked No. 3,319 on the list. ARCOS delivers SaaS solutions that continually report on the location and status of equipment and crews via mobile technology for utilities and other critical infrastructure industries like airlines and manufacturers. According to Inc. staff, “In the history of the Inc. 5000, only two percent of companies have made the list six times.”

“We’re on this year’s Inc. 5000 list, in part, because we’ve worked as a team to continually improve the way managers of utilities, manufacturing facilities and airlines keep their operations running,” said ARCOS CEO Bruce Duff. “The software solutions we’ve developed automate many of the manual, behind-the-scenes processes that:  restore electric, water or gas service; staff manufacturing lines; and get planes and their crews back in the sky.”

“The 2020 Inc. 5000 achieved an incredible three-year average growth of over 500 percent, and a median rate of 165 percent,” wrote Inc. magazine in a press release. Inc. Editor-in-Chief Scott Omelianuk said, “From health and software to media and hospitality, the 2020 list proves that no matter the sector, incredible growth is based on the foundations of tenacity and opportunism.”

The 2020 Inc. 5000 is ranked according to percentage revenue growth when comparing 2016 and 2019. To qualify, companies must have been founded and generating revenue by March 31, 2016. They had to be U.S.-based, privately held, for profit, and independent—not subsidiaries or divisions of other companies—as of December 31, 2019. The minimum revenue required for 2019 is $2 million. The 2020 Inc. 5000 list, including company profiles and an interactive database, is at http://www.inc.com/inc5000.

ARCOS launches Resource Planner to speed up restoration, boost situational awareness

By Press Releases

COLUMBUS, Ohio – June 29, 2020 – ARCOS® LLC has launched ARCOS Resource Planner, so utility managers can have one software platform to quickly plan for and see the resources – organized by type and location – they need to restore service. Using Resource Planner, along with ARCOS’s complementary products Resource Assist and Resource Assist Lite, managers can automatically track resources at the moment they acquire them from other divisions, neighboring utilities and contractors.

In contrast, manually planning for resources (e.g., distribution workers or tree experts) and making phone calls to secure their help often yields a final number of resources arriving at a utility that is higher than requested. Often a request for, say, 800 resources ends up yielding as many as 880. The difference can be attributed to various reasons such as responders sending additional support staff and crews. Among the first priorities utility managers have when running an event is capturing basic numbers, including how many people are on their property and how many they need. Acquiring a true picture of the data saves a utility time and money when calculating how many hotel rooms, meals and gallons of fuel it needs; what a utility truly has on hand also impacts how it calculates an estimated time of restoration.

“The sooner a utility organizes and sees all resources the faster it can restore power,” says Jim Nowak, senior director of Operations, Product and Services at ARCOS. “A utility has to validate the classifications of workers being sent and process the right number of people and titles.”

Once a utility learns of a pending storm or other situation, managers go into Resource Planner and begin capturing the number of resources they need by resource type (e.g., distribution, transmission, damage, tree, etc.). Resource Planner then tallies requests and responses to show executives how the acquisition of resources is progressing. Operations managers can quickly see shortfalls and ask for workers from:  areas of their utility unaffected by the event; neighboring utilities or contractors. With a storm prediction model, the utility supervisor can take what’s been modeled for, say, the number of required distribution workers and plug that into Resource Planner to construct a profile of what’s available at that moment.

Through ARCOS Resource Assist, operations staff from different utilities and contractors can share people and equipment via a common language that draws from the standard resource types in the Edison Electric Institute’s National Response Event RAMP-UP tool.

“Making the naming conventions within Resource Planner, Resource Assist and the ARCOS platform the same as RAMP-UP eliminates confusion and standardizes requests,” adds Jason Singer, director for Resource Management Services for ARCOS. “The values a manager enters into Resource Planner are taken from damage assessment data, historical knowledge or outage prediction modeling.”

For ARCOS customers, there is no separate licensing fee for Resource Planner, and the solution links to ARCOS Resource Assist and ARCOS Crew Manager. Download the Resource Planner Data Sheet and learn more here.

ARCOS launches Managed Services to help utilities, airlines and other CI firms reach business goals, ROI faster

By Press Releases

COLUMBUS, Ohio – May 11, 2020 – ARCOS LLC, the market leader for utility and critical infrastructure resource-management solutions, has launched ARCOS Managed Services to help critical infrastructure customers speed up the deployment and adoption of their ARCOS solution, which spells a faster ROI and assures ongoing value for managers and workers.

“If you consider how technology gets implemented, before the system even goes live, a customer has to think through project management, how to roll out the technology, change management, training,” said Ted Schneider, chief technology officer for ARCOS. “Employers don’t always have the talent pool or skilled resources available to make sure they get value from the technology they’ve invested in.” 

Critical infrastructure companies face a variety of pressing challenges to manage union or other skilled workers. ARCOS Managed Services offers CI companies the technical experts and project managers who can successfully plan and launch ARCOS’s solution and stay involved to ensure the solution keeps paying off for users, even as new business challenges arise.

With Managed Services, ARCOS customers get dedicated experts (beyond the implementation team assigned to each ARCOS project) from various disciplines who help customers measure and monitor their investment in ARCOS products.

The ARCOS Managed Services portfolio contains:

  •         ARCOS PM Select, which includes a dedicated project manager to help customers simultaneously implement multiple ARCOS products;
  •         ARCOS PM Plus for customers who can’t spare an employee for project management, but need an on-site or remotely based project manager;
  •         ARCOS ACTivate™ to add ARCOS experts who go beyond a traditional rollout by managing and implementing the project, including developing a rollout schedule to ensure a single business unit or multiple divisions get the most benefit from the platform;
  •         ARCOS Business Ready, which includes workshops for change management, technology adoption and training and communication plans;
  •         ARCOS Premier Training, a tiered offering beyond the standard training program to help customers reinforce instruction or target a specific work group’s need; and
  •         ARCOS Advisory Services that assign a dedicated customer success manager to review and analyze customer progress, including an annual assessment of results and seat for one user on the ARCOS Customer Advisory Board.

“An employer could call its internal IT to analyze and adjust its system, but other business interests, or a crisis, can stretch resources thin,” added Schneider. “Managed Services brings a safety net – a dedicated team who can help at a moment’s notice.” 

After success automating callouts, El Paso Electric tunes ARCOS for pandemic

By Press Releases

COLUMBUS, Ohio – April 29, 2020 – A year ago, ARCOS LLC, the market leader for utility and critical infrastructure resource-management solutions, launched its ARCOS Callout and Scheduling Suite at El Paso Electric Company, so the Texas utility could turn its manual process for identifying, assembling and dispatching crews for after-hours emergencies into an automated one that dispatchers complete with a few keystrokes. According to Jason Villanueva,  supervisor of Distribution Dispatch at El Paso Electric Company, the benefits to using ARCOS’s SaaS software have been:

  • reducing service-restoration time by tens of thousands of dollars per year;
  • compressing the time to conduct callouts from up to two hours to a few minutes;
  • virtually eliminating grievances related to how workers are called out, and
  • distributing the appropriate type of work to the crews best-suited to tackling a job.

“Before we implemented ARCOS, our dispatcher group hand-keyed data to maintain worker profiles and records,” said Villanueva. “And our supervisors spent too much time determining who was responding to callouts. But now ARCOS tracks every response automatically and regularly emails a report to supervisors, so there’s a single, verifiable record.”

Because El Paso Electric integrated ARCOS with the utility’s financial system, supervisors can also automatically track overtime hours for nearly 200 linemen, apprentices and dutymen. Automation has also saved the utility’s clerks hours of manually tabulating overtime statistics.

Pandemic response

In late March to mitigate the novel coronavirus threat to operations El Paso Electric Company chose to handle emergency callouts by keeping its daily crews together; the switch meant the utility wouldn’t mix crew members who weren’t ordinarily working together. Villanueva tapped the ARCOS software to create a system for assigning pre-set groups to after-hour callouts, instead of building a crew composed of the first, available responders.

“With the new approach, we call out a crew as a pre-determined unit,” adds Villanueva. “It’s a way we’re using technology to respond to customers, while navigating the novel coronavirus.”

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

By Press Releases

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

By Press Releases

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

By Press Releases

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

By Press Releases

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

By Press Releases

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

By Press Releases

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

By Press Releases

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

By Press Releases

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

By Press Releases

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.