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Thread: You can work over here...no scratch that, maybe over here...then again....

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    Senior Member Bad Robot's Avatar
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    Default You can work over here...no scratch that, maybe over here...then again....

    USIC boys and girls: what in the hell is going on with the moving locators around every three weeks? Don't your bosses believe in having someone cover the same area for any length of time? I'm getting tired of playing go between for you guys and the contractors out here doing project work.......

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    Senior Member big boots mcghee's Avatar
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    Default Re: You can work over here...no scratch that, maybe over here...then again....

    It's a little bit of the whole robbing from Peter to pay Paul type of thing. You can run over here and put out that fire, then run back over there and put out that fire, then scramble back to "your area" and put out that fire as well. That's part of it. The other part is that there are so many inept locators around nowadays that our bosses with have the top techs floating all over the place taking care of the tougher jobs just so things don't get screwed up. It friggen' sucks!
    My boots may be red but I'm no clown.

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    Default Re: You can work over here...no scratch that, maybe over here...then again....

    Quote Originally Posted by big boots mcghee View Post
    It's a little bit of the whole robbing from Peter to pay Paul type of thing. You can run over here and put out that fire, then run back over there and put out that fire, then scramble back to "your area" and put out that fire as well. That's part of it. The other part is that there are so many inept locators around nowadays that our bosses with have the top techs floating all over the place taking care of the tougher jobs just so things don't get screwed up. It friggen' sucks!
    For USIC I think you have hit it on the head, these is the result of following Utiliquest's path.

    This technique is also used in some firms to cut locators pay. Rotate the top locators around into others areas so that their hourly production rates fall resulting in no raise or a pay cut. Fortunately where I am now I do not see this method in use.

    I heard one area manager for another firm that used this method was fired recently but not for this. In this case I think they were just looking for someone to blame rather than the higher ups that caused the real problems.

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    Senior Member sprayandpray's Avatar
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    Default Re: You can work over here...no scratch that, maybe over here...then again....

    In some instances this is a smart thing to do. If everyone has assigned areas eventually 1 or more will need help from time to time. If done correctly then every one, more or less, gets an equal share of the load. When I 1st hired on we had a Lead Tech with a small area who was always available to go and help someone after lunch. This is force management and when used wisely can benefit the whole crew/district. Besides, this is how you learn to locate outside your area ( of comfort?) and actually pays off when you have tough locates in someone else's area while on call.
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    Senior Member Bad Robot's Avatar
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    Default Re: You can work over here...no scratch that, maybe over here...then again....

    Quote Originally Posted by big boots mcghee View Post
    It's a little bit of the whole robbing from Peter to pay Paul type of thing. You can run over here and put out that fire, then run back over there and put out that fire, then scramble back to "your area" and put out that fire as well. That's part of it. The other part is that there are so many inept locators around nowadays that our bosses with have the top techs floating all over the place taking care of the tougher jobs just so things don't get screwed up. It friggen' sucks!
    I agree with your take on this, it does seem to have a lot to do with "inept" locators, but who's really responsible fot that? What do you expect for 12 bucks an hour, and treating people like they are enlisted men who have to be available 24/7 for the company? Even in this economy, this is easily the worst damned business model I have ever seen. And sorry for the rant, but I'm really tired of contractors calling me at all hours wondering if I know what happened to Bob, and if I could do them a favor and locate some of USIC's plant because they can't get locates.

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    Senior Member Bad Robot's Avatar
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    Default Re: You can work over here...no scratch that, maybe over here...then again....

    Quote Originally Posted by sprayandpray View Post
    In some instances this is a smart thing to do. If everyone has assigned areas eventually 1 or more will need help from time to time. If done correctly then every one, more or less, gets an equal share of the load. When I 1st hired on we had a Lead Tech with a small area who was always available to go and help someone after lunch. This is force management and when used wisely can benefit the whole crew/district. Besides, this is how you learn to locate outside your area ( of comfort?) and actually pays off when you have tough locates in someone else's area while on call.
    Agreed Spray, and very good points. We do the same thing here almost daily. But after calling around last night, it appears that the real problem here is that USIC has been forcing it's supervisors to sent locators downstate because they picked up contracts and have no one to work them! So now we go back to the CLS trick of moving people around and around, and plugging them into a different scene each day. Good for the company, bad for the contractor, and probably not so good for the customer I'm thinking. I'd be pissed if I found out that the crew I payed for to protect my plant is being thinned out so someone can make their books look more attractive!

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    Mke
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    Default Re: You can work over here...no scratch that, maybe over here...then again....

    I don't think that this is a concious effort to "F" the locator. I think it comes down to neccessity. Contract locating companies staff as few locators as they can get away with. This means that during Peak ticket season everyone is going to run behind, and be shifted around to different areas to help with "damage control". I think managers are trying to impress the "upitty ups" in the company to the detriment of the locator.

    I don't mind switching areas, and being on-call as long as you are rewarded for it. Just because it is industry standard to do it, doesn't mean that we shouldn't be compensated for it.

    As for switching areas being beneficial, I think its kinda flawed. I have had a locate in the same area multiple times, and each time I locate it, it is just as difficult as the first.

    Mke

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    Default Re: You can work over here...no scratch that, maybe over here...then again....

    Quote Originally Posted by Mke View Post
    I don't think that this is a concious effort to "F" the locator. I think it comes down to neccessity. Contract locating companies staff as few locators as they can get away with. This means that during Peak ticket season everyone is going to run behind, and be shifted around to different areas to help with "damage control". I think managers are trying to impress the "upitty ups" in the company to the detriment of the locator.

    I don't mind switching areas, and being on-call as long as you are rewarded for it. Just because it is industry standard to do it, doesn't mean that we shouldn't be compensated for it.

    As for switching areas being beneficial, I think its kinda flawed. I have had a locate in the same area multiple times, and each time I locate it, it is just as difficult as the first.

    Mke
    What I referred to with switching areas was for two to three month periods. Locator A goes to Locator B's area, Locator B goes to locator C's area and C goes to A's area. This is a full switch, not top locator A going to help out in another area and occurs all year round, not just in Summer peak loads. So while it is not used in every case to cut locator pay in some cases it is just that.

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    Default Re: You can work over here...no scratch that, maybe over here...then again....

    Quote Originally Posted by sprayandpray View Post
    In some instances this is a smart thing to do. If everyone has assigned areas eventually 1 or more will need help from time to time. If done correctly then every one, more or less, gets an equal share of the load. When I 1st hired on we had a Lead Tech with a small area who was always available to go and help someone after lunch. This is force management and when used wisely can benefit the whole crew/district. Besides, this is how you learn to locate outside your area ( of comfort?) and actually pays off when you have tough locates in someone else's area while on call.
    I have done that many times especially when my area is caught up and I can go an entire day and not mark anything because the tickets are not due yet. I also have done this after hours to help pick up the load in another area. I have also been in the situation where for some reason I am loaded down and have had help come in and take some of my light work off of me.

    It needs to be done but needs to be done carefully. You can burn out your best locators and those that are not picking up their load can sometimes just slack off expecting to have someone sent to do the jobs they do not want to do.

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    Moderator Goldenboy's Avatar
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    Default Re: You can work over here...no scratch that, maybe over here...then again....

    Luckily the area I work in never seems to slow down. I've worked the same area since Nov' 1997. I do try to get out to help others when I can but that isn't too often. In the winter my area quadruples in size so I do get to locate in areas I'm unfamiliar with in the winter.

    For the most part on our team everyone has their own area. We do have one "floater" who goes to the area who needs it most or works in another locators are when he/she is on vacation. If one guy is slow on work he goes to help someone next to him/her who needs the help most.

    To me it just makes sense to keep people in the same area. You learn the real bad areas, you know where all the hook up points are, and you get to know all the contractors and utility reps in your area. Once you leave your area your production drops dramatically because you have to find your way around and work with plant you are unfamiliar with.

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    Default Re: You can work over here...no scratch that, maybe over here...then again....

    There is nothing worse than being bounced all over while STILL BEING EXPECTED to produce numbers.

    Happened to me in Seattle and Chicago. Get yourself all set the night before, wake up and boom, everything is different in your box. I've had changes in areas happen WHILE I was working in one. Get out of the truck on a job, mark it, go back to bill it and MAGICALLY it's gone with everything else, with NEW stuff in a NEW area !!!!!!!!!!!!! Then the phone calls start. Come to think of it. It was CLS both times that happened.

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    Senior Member yahoo's Avatar
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    Default Re: You can work over here...no scratch that, maybe over here...then again....

    let me know how that works out for ya!!!! will USIC be around in the next few years......no .....they will be sold off to the highest bidder!!!! that's what I see coming!!!!
    wise men talk because they have something to say and fools because they have to say something....plato

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    Default Re: You can work over here...no scratch that, maybe over here...then again....

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldenboy View Post
    Luckily the area I work in never seems to slow down. I've worked the same area since Nov' 1997. I do try to get out to help others when I can but that isn't too often. In the winter my area quadruples in size so I do get to locate in areas I'm unfamiliar with in the winter.

    For the most part on our team everyone has their own area. We do have one "floater" who goes to the area who needs it most or works in another locators are when he/she is on vacation. If one guy is slow on work he goes to help someone next to him/her who needs the help most.

    To me it just makes sense to keep people in the same area. You learn the real bad areas, you know where all the hook up points are, and you get to know all the contractors and utility reps in your area. Once you leave your area your production drops dramatically because you have to find your way around and work with plant you are unfamiliar with.
    i am glad you have it like that where you are Goldenboy. It sounds like you have good bosses who leave you alone, and you take good care of you area. Hard to believe you work for the same company that these guys do. Yesterday I ran into another new guy on a large force main sewer project I've been working on all year long. "Jake" arrived 10 minutes before the ticket refresh was due, and proceeded to ask me if I knew where any of his facilities were in conflict. I let him know what I had seen marked previous to his showing up, and let him know where the contractor was primarily going to be working in the near future. He thanked me, and told me that he worked in the county to the west and was here to help for the day because they were shorthanded. He seemed frustrated, but then again every USIC locator I have run into this year seems that way. I know I would be if someone gave me a joint meet refresh ticket like this one, if I was just coming over to help out. Folks, this isn't UPS or Fed Ex., where you can move anyone anywhere to deliver a package. This project I'm on is very involved, and USIC has had several major damages on it, and moving locators in and out of here played a major part in the facilities that were damaged here. I walked away from that locate yesterday just shaking my head.

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    Default Re: You can work over here...no scratch that, maybe over here...then again....

    Quote Originally Posted by Bad Robot View Post
    i am glad you have it like that where you are Goldenboy. It sounds like you have good bosses who leave you alone, and you take good care of you area. Hard to believe you work for the same company that these guys do. Yesterday I ran into another new guy on a large force main sewer project I've been working on all year long. "Jake" arrived 10 minutes before the ticket refresh was due, and proceeded to ask me if I knew where any of his facilities were in conflict. I let him know what I had seen marked previous to his showing up, and let him know where the contractor was primarily going to be working in the near future. He thanked me, and told me that he worked in the county to the west and was here to help for the day because they were shorthanded. He seemed frustrated, but then again every USIC locator I have run into this year seems that way. I know I would be if someone gave me a joint meet refresh ticket like this one, if I was just coming over to help out. Folks, this isn't UPS or Fed Ex., where you can move anyone anywhere to deliver a package. This project I'm on is very involved, and USIC has had several major damages on it, and moving locators in and out of here played a major part in the facilities that were damaged here. I walked away from that locate yesterday just shaking my head.
    Excellent point that supervisors who once were locators seem to forget and supervisors who never were locators cannot understand.

    These big projects, or just some locations, take at the initial visit an hour or several hours just to find where everything is. If they send another locator then these hours must be spent again and they usually are complex enough that this highly increases the chance of a damage. When the locator that worked them before is available for an "update" ticket they are the ones that must be sent.

    Seems once someone makes supervisor they forget that these tickets must be toned from scratch and the phrase "it's just an update ticket" does not mean what it implies. Even if the previous marks are completely intact the new locator cannot use them, they must tone from scratch and they must figure out where everything is.


    I worked one company where my work area got 60, 90 or more new tickets a day. My foreman moving the tickets just caused more trouble than resulting in efficiency. So I established a private yahoo e-mail account just for the job, locators there did not have company e-mail. Then I would call the foreman and ask if he was sending anybody, who they were and where they were coming from. I would then e-mail him a list of ticket numbers to move to their laptop. This way I kept all the complex road jobs and such and gave away most of my service drops, lawn sprinklers,, etc, just keeping to myself locations that presented problems. Getting tickets in my area became a treat for the other locators, there never was a shortage of people willing to work my area and my hourly production rate still stayed high.

    Supervisors reading this please take note, you cannot judge the time or complexity of a ticket just be the brief description or work, you have to open and read the entire ticket to see the complexity of it. Plus to really judge what it will take to get the ticket done you need the knowledge of a locator who knows their area very well. I suggest trying to have the locator select which tickets to assign to others. If they do a good and reliable job of it then they make you look good and take workload off your back. If the do a poor job and give away all their trouble tickets and keep just the easy ones only then do you need to intervene and select the ticket yourself. I know that if I were foreman I would never be able to make judgments of whcih tickets to assign elsewhere better than the locator that has that area.

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    Mke
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    Default Re: You can work over here...no scratch that, maybe over here...then again....

    Hey PL, I wasn't refering to the locator switching areas just to help out, I think we all have done this from time to time. I was specifically stating the extended switch of a locator from one area to another. Which I was involved in when I was doing Public locates. I had a large Rural area that was given to me as soon as I was done training, I was in that area for 2 years solid, and was trained in that area by a locator who owned that area for the previous5-7 yrs.

    The reason the company switched me was the damage Ratios were dramatically different. My area had a low damage ratio, and the other area, even though was less then half the size of mine had larger damage ratio. The Company thought my area must of been easier since there was a lower damage ratio, so they moved the guy from the higher ratio area to mine, and put me into the Higher ratio area.
    The only benefit to the switch was learning an area that I had to cover for Emergency call outs, other then that the locating was the same. Same crappy Qwest peds, same horrible prints to go off of.

    When it came down to it..... The Ratio lowered in that area, and Rose in my old area. They never moved me back.

    I am a proponent of Keeping a locator in his own area for as long as he wants to stay in that area. I'm with Goldenboy, You keep the locator in a perticular area and they learn that area, good parts and bad parts. When they learn an area their production naturally increases. And for those locators who hate staying in one place.......... Float them.

    mke

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