Service Center Planning

Utility company service centers (also called operation centers, regional headquarters, etc.) are the headquarters for field work supporting the utility network and customers.  They are different from many facilities in their role as a base to assemble, prepare, and support work done in the field. There are also significant size variations among these sites from small no-frills to basic light industrial to mega centers.

Typical functions on these sites include:

  • Field Crews (construction, maintenance, operation),
  • Special utility network support and testing groups,
  • Engineering/design & work planning,
  • Vehicle maintenance,
  • Material warehousing,
  • Communications, emergency operations,
  • Regional administration, environmental, & safety,
  • Customer service, retail office (becoming rare),
  • Community relations and business development.

As utilities make investments in of these important facilities, to upgrade conditions or respond to changing business operations and technology improvements, an inevitable question arises:

Do we have the right number of facilities and are they in the right locations?

Facility Issues can help with your long range service center planning. Be confident that your service centers (field operation headquarters) are in the right locations as you plan new capital investments in these facilities.

We have found that an iterative, phased approach works best with a planning project of this complexity.  The overall process is shown linearly for simplicity, but the approach is to cycle through the steps repeatedly as appropriate

Service Center Planning Process diagram

The opportunity can arise from business needs or facility assessments and an initial assessment will validate and refine the planning objective(s).

Then the strategic level planning will evaluate the alignment of the properties with the anticipated business needs to modify the opportunity and/or identify facility specific projects.

The tactical facility planning will advance the facility projects.  The implemented projects will become reference points that refine the strategic plan.

The operational facility assessments will establish and refine the facility operations based upon the implemented projects and identify potential opportunities to evaluate.

Consolidation vs decentralization diagram

Location analysis is a key part of service center planning because each facility is typically part of an extensive network of field operations headquarters. Consolidation / decentralization issues such as travel times need to be considered in the service center plan to achieve the appropriate balance for each situation. The key is having the right facilities in the right place.  This means that service networks supporting field forces need to balance travel times with facility locations. (Note: with changes in operations it is becoming more about cost than response time – read more about service center facility trends.)

Whether you want to properly locate new facilities, consolidate your existing properties, improve customer service, or reduce operating costs, location optimization as part of your service center planning helps you focus investment on those properties that best support the business.

Service Center Planning Services

Facility issues can help with the right level of study for your situation from location benchmarking to a full long range facility plan. Savings opportunities from our studies range from $250,000 per year to $40 million NPV with corresponding reductions of thousands of pounds in annual CO2 emissions.

Download a whitepaper on Service Center Planing.

Contact us to see if we can help you like we did for:

  • Allegheny Energy
  • Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania
  • ComEd
  • CPS
  • DTE
  • Duke Indiana Power
  • Eversource
  • National Grid
  • Northern Indiana Public Service
  • PG&E
  • PPL
  • PSEG
  • San Antonio Water System