Utilities Opt to Automate Crew Scheduling, streamline work

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For many utilities, scheduling each day’s construction and restoration work means manually organizing and keeping tabs on ever-changing crew schedules and resources. Managers meticulously update whiteboards dotted with color-coded magnets representing crews and trucks. Augmenting the whiteboards are often schedules pulled from a PC-based project management tool and a database management product. Adding to this challenge is the fact that different departments concentrate on restoring outages, while other groups manage day-to-day construction.

The process is a daily fight to stay ahead of projects and restore outages for customers. While utility company managers and crews always complete this work, according to many industry professionals, the process is vulnerable to mistakes and delays.

Data drives much of what utilities do, and employees and customers have high expectations for the kind of information they want. Automated crew manager systems, say utility executives, create greater visibility for utility leadership into crew operations and eliminate the inefficiencies of paper-based system that create delays for customers.

In spite of this, most utilities still rely on manual processes for managing crews and work. According to Daniel Gent, director of Analytics for the Canadian Electricity Association, anywhere between 50 to 80 percent of Canadian utilities still organize this work by hand.

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