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East Central Energy Virtually Shrinks Service Area to Reduce Average Fleet Costs by $40,000 Annually

East Central Energy
  • Company: East Central Energy
  • Industry: Utilities
  • Fleet Size: 75
  • Contact: Phil Beaupre, System Control Manager
    Holly Giffrow-Bos, Fleet Supervisor

Customer Success Summary

See how East Central Energy has virtually shrunk a 5,000 square mile service area to reduce average monthly miles driven by 14,000 miles, decreasing monthly vehicle costs by $3,300. With 14 counties to serve, and a limited fleet size for the coverage area, East Central Energy uses GPS Insight to optimize its resources.

ECE Vehicle Tracked by GPS Insight

ECE Vehicle Tracked by GPS Insight

Background

East Central Energy is a member-owned electric cooperative formed in 1936 that currently provides electric service to more than 58,000 homes, farms, and businesses in east central Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. With a mission to safely provide reliable service, East Central Energy, headquartered in Braham, Minnesota, has equipped over 75 vehicles with GPS Insight to further its values of accountability, innovation, integrity, and its commitment to the community.

Business Challenge

One of the most basic needs for any company looking to deploy a GPS fleet tracking system is to know exactly where resources are located and East Central Energy was no exception to this need. Phil Beaupre, System Control Manager at East Central Energy, says, “We serve about 8,000 miles of [power] line which feeds out to about 58,000 customers. So we have a pretty big footprint. But comparatively our fleet isn’t quite as large as it could be and we want to use our resources as best we can.” With 14 counties to serve, and a limited fleet size for the coverage area, East Central Energy was very interested in resource optimization, and knowing where their vehicles are located at all times would provide them with the intelligence needed to best manage their fleet.

East Central Energy places a heavy emphasis on safety. When a distress call came into the dispatcher from an unseasoned apprentice, an immediate need for a GPS vehicle tracking solution was identified. The apprentice did not know where he was, making an emergency dispatch situation extremely difficult. To meet its own safety standards, East Central Energy needed a system in place to prevent similar scenarios in the future.

Another key area East Central Energy wanted their GPS fleet tracking system to address was their outage response time. This would require an integration of GPS data with a pre-existing system. East Central Energy uses a mapping system called MapWise by NISC to visualize their outage data and wanted their GPS partner to be able to populate this outage management system with the locations of nearby crews. Rather than have a dedicated response crew that was dispatched from a central location, East Central Energy wanted to improve outage response time by being able to identify the closest crews to the source of an outage and dispatch them to that location.

We have 5 shops that house equipment and vehicles. Before we head on the road to our districts we can see where the trucks are, if they are close or at the shop. This way we can schedule work in advance and plan our day efficiently.

Holly Giffrow-Bos

Fleet Supervisor, East Central Energy

How it was solved

East Central Energy understood the value of vehicle location but found much more after implementing the GPS Insight fleet tracking system. Dispatchers at East Central Energy are now provided with a top-down view of where their vehicles are at any given point, effectively shrinking their 5,000 square mile service area. GPS Insight provides a consistent experience comparable to familiar internet mapping tools and this was a very attractive feature for East Central Energy. Dispatchers could now identify technicians that are closest to an outage and dispatch them from there rather than from a regional service center that is much further away.

This resulted in an average monthly decrease of miles driven by the entire fleet to the order of: 14,000 miles, or $3,300 according to AAA’s most recent driving costs report. That’s a $40,000 annual savings.

With East Central Energy’s heavy emphasis on safety standards, they are now able to best respond to emergency scenarios. Distress calls can be processed more effectively and scenarios in which technicians or apprentices who are unaware of their location can be addressed with precision. With better insight into driver behavior, they’re also able to proactively improve driving habits.

Another challenge to East Central Energy’s safety standards, and one often overlooked by many other organizations, is vehicle maintenance. Through vehicle maintenance alerting capabilities, GPS Insight provides a great way to track vehicle maintenance intervals, keeping operations running smoothly and improving safety while reducing associated costs.

GPS Insight’s flexibility to integrate valuable data across nearly any platform made it a very intuitive and simple process to connect East Central Energy’s MapWise data with vehicle location data. By leveraging the robust set of application programming interfaces, or API’s, provided by GPS Insight, MapWise is able to seamlessly connect and speak with GPS Insight. This added functionality allows East Central Energy to view more data in one place to make better sense of their operations and how best to address their challenges.

How East Central Energy believes GPS Insight can help other Co-op’s like yours:

  • Improve safety by enhancing maintenance processes, addressing driver behavior and having real-time views of fleet location
  • GPS Insight has the flexibility to integrate with nearly any other software platform including Utility Mapping Tools and GIS applications
  • Top-down views of overall fleet location can make large service areas easier to manage

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