Empire District Electric Co. in southwestern Missouri will soon hang up its after-hours manual phone dialing process for calling crews and, instead, rely on the Software-as-a-Service ARCOS Suite to automatically call and assemble crews to restore power. Empire purchased the ARCOS Suite to reduce outage times as part of “Operation Toughen Up,” an initiative for strengthening the company’s delivery system. Empire plans to have the ARCOS Suite in place this summer for approximately 240 electric workers and water servicemen.
“By 2020, our goal is to have our SAIDI number at 100 and our SAIFI at 1.0,” said Martin Penning, vice president of Commercial Operations for Empire District Electric Company. “We’re improving our technology, hardening facilities and increasing sectionalization of the system in order to reduce the area a lineman must look to find a fault. We will also use ARCOS to more quickly dispatch linemen to trouble areas.”
Empire has always responded well to calls for power restoration, even in the wake of disasters like the 2011 Joplin tornado. But Operation Toughen Up led the utility to look for still more efficiency. An analysis showed Empire that, during outages, its contact center was sometimes overwhelmed by customer calls while dispatchers manually dialed phones to contact crews for restoration work.
Empire’s manual callout process requires service areas to send callout lists to its contact center every two weeks. The callout order for crews is based on work agreements. When Empire’s outage management system reports an outage, dispatchers in the contact center use lists in binders to find and call linemen who can respond to trouble.
With ARCOS in place, the contact center will initiate an automated callout with the click of a button. Crews will be alerted in seconds to the trouble via mobile phone, pager, home phone, text or email. The automatic ARCOS call for crews electronically mimics the callout process and rules exactly as outlined by the agreement with the IBEW.
“By using ARCOS, we free contact center representatives to focus on customers, speed up the assembly of crews, and restore our customers’ service quicker,” said Rick Wallace, director of System Performance for Empire District Electric Co.
“With ARCOS, the average time to assemble a crew after hours typically drops from 60 minutes or more to just a few minutes, getting the lights on sooner for customers,” said Bruce Duff, chief executive officer of ARCOS, Inc.