ARCOS LLC will implement its Software-as-a-Service Crew Manager product at Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. later this year to improve the speed with which the utility mobilizes crews to restore gas and electric service. The implementation is part of the utility’s internal process improvement initiative. Central Hudson identified the largely manual crew logistics portion of its storm-response process as an area that Crew Manager could automate.
ARCOS Crew Manager creates a centralized database that Central Hudson will use to rapidly position crews, contractors and mutual aid workers during restoration efforts.
“Crew Manager streamlines the storm side of our operations and gives us a level of visibility that we never had before; and it will automate building and tracking gas and electric crews on blue-sky days,” said Ryan Hawthorne, director of Dispatch Operations for Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp.
The team behind the initiative found that during major events Central Hudson worked doubly hard to manage the logistics and lodging for foreign crews.
“Our team identified a potential savings of $100,000 per $1 million spent on mutual aid,” added Hawthorne. “Our current system for handling foreign crew lodging and meals, for example, can be cumbersome and during major events requires our team to manage a large, unwieldy spreadsheet.”
Crew Manager’s tracking features accurately account for the housing and feeding of hundreds (or thousands) of company, contract and mutual aid crews. With reports from Crew Manager, Central Hudson can compare invoices from foreign crews with the work these crews perform, minute by minute.
“There won’t be any questions about where foreign crews were, what they accomplished or how long it took them to restore service for our customers,” said Hawthorne. “Crew Manager is a transformational change in terms of work management and the ability to track internal and external crews.”
Central Hudson will use Crew Manager around the clock. So dispatchers, supervisors and crews will be familiar with the tool regardless of the conditions. According to Hawthorne, automating crew management will give supervisors more time in the field to: monitor safety; ensure efficient work practices; and direct crews. Currently, Central Hudson’s supervisors can spend up to an hour per day planning work for the following day or re-aligning resources if a crew member is ill, training or away. The Crew Manager solution will also provide supervisors and dispatchers with centralized, automated visibility of activities such as vehicle usage. This can prevent, for example, the over assignment of a truck.
“We estimate the efficiencies in labor costs from using Crew Manager on blue-sky days will be $100,000 per year, which can then be applied to higher-valued tasks,” remarked Hawthorne. “It eliminates manual tasks such as building daily work plans with spreadsheets, using paper notes to juggle crews and trucks, and refresher training on a storm system that dispatchers might use only a few times per year.”
Once implemented, Crew Manager will store contacts for approximately 200 to 300 Central Hudson linemen, first- and second-line supervisors and gas mechanics. Crew Manager will complement the ARCOS Callout solution, which Central Hudson installed in 2005 to automate the call out of its crews.