Salt River Project (SRP), America's third-largest public power utility, doesn't pick up the phone to call its maintenance crews after hours if a transformer goes out or a pole comes down. Instead, the Phoenix-based utility now relies on a hosted, internet-based application to identify available crews, call them, analyze responses and report on the outcome.
Powering the software in place at SRP is the ARCOS System. The high-tech system provides real-time intelligence on which crews are able to respond to callouts, and when. If SRP receives word that a callout is necessary, a supervisor engages the ARCOS System and the software can quickly send voice or text messages to hundreds of crew members in seconds. Crew members respond as to whether they can work the callout—while ARCOS takes into account a complex set of pre-determined workforce rules and regulations.
"This system gives our supervisors a lot more visibility into our operations, at a moment's notice," said Mark Hungate, SRP field maintenance manager. "The program before ARCOS was one we built in-house. It could tell us which crew was closest to the call during normal working hours, but we relied on our dispatchers to call crews after hours or on weekends."
Before implementing ARCOS, calls were made on an individual basis with a dispatcher contacting one working foreman at a time. Then, each foreman would make calls to assemble the rest of a four-person crew. This type of communication contributed to time lost each week contacting coworkers and, in some cases, waiting for responses.
According to SRP, the new callout system can trim an hour or more off the time it takes to assemble a crew—meaning that crews get to the trouble site faster and restore power sooner. Eliminating manual callout means SRP dispatchers are free to respond to other mission-critical tasks, and maintenance supervisors can focus on assessing the severity of multiple repair situations and taking the next steps.
"SRP didn't have to change any of the business processes it had in place to implement ARCOS. The system is flexible and configured to mirror the business rules a utility already relies on," said Mitchell McLeod, president and CEO of ARCOS Inc. "The ultimate goal of using a system like this is to reduce outage restoration time, raise customer satisfaction and make the operation as efficient as possible."
"ARCOS has made the morning shuffle easier on our crews," remarked Mark Bell, section supervisor, SRP Reactive Maintenance. "Our crews call into ARCOS and make themselves available based on a number of factors, and we don't have to manually run a roster each morning. It provides great visibility for our supervisors; they know what's going on with the operations at any time, any place."
About ARCOS Inc.
The ARCOS Automated Crew Callout and Resource Management system is used by progressive electric and gas utilities throughout the United States. ARCOS is a Central Ohio Business First "Fast 50" award winner. ARCOS is offered as a Web-based hosted service that provides proven results that improve operational efficiency. For more information, visit the company at www.arcos-inc.com or call 614-396-5500.