In Field of Dreams, James Earl Jones famously states that the one constant in America though all the years, is baseball. In the world of electric vehicle fleets, the one constant is change. The demands on your EV fleet change daily, if not hourly. Production changes, rush orders, urgent requests, driver availability, customer requests, weather events, and utility demand reduction programs can – and do -- crop up all the time. Vehicles must be loaded, charging completed, destinations scheduled, drivers assigned, maintenance completed, traffic navigated, customers satisfied and, oh yeah, costs controlled. Fleet Managers need the flexibility to handle these hurdles daily and to do so as smoothly as an Olympic athlete.
To be fair, all of these challenges must be handled by managers of non-electric fleets, too, but operating an electric vehicle fleet adds another factor to those challenges. Put simply, charging takes longer than fueling with diesel or gas, even with DC fast chargers. The time needed to charge your EV fleet could impact almost every aspect of your operation – but it doesn’t have to. A well-constructed electrification plan incorporating a smart charging control system can give you the tools and flexibility to handle both planned and unplanned electric fleet issues smoothly and cost effectively without negatively impacting EV fleet operations.
Every electric vehicle fleet and every fleet charging depot presents its own unique set of requirements and challenges. And yet, one common fundamental need links them all: electric vehicles must be charged. While that need is common and fundamental across all electric fleets, it has more variables than a college-level calculus equation. Vehicles and EV chargers vary. Some vehicles will need to charge overnight while others must charge immediately throughout the day. Some depots may include DC Fast Chargers while others can’t afford that technology. At one site, chargers may be located at the loading dock while at another, they’re at the far end of the parking lot. Some vehicles may require priority charging whenever they arrive at the depot, while others can wait. Some electric vehicles need continuous charging while others can handle on-and-off charging. Some depots charge the same EVs day after day, while others handle a rotating cast of EVs. And to top it all off, utility tariff programs vary from state to state, utility to utility, and location to location, and those differences could impact charging protocols -- if you want them to.
Each of those site and operational factors can necessitate different solutions. The best smart charging control platforms give you the ability to implement all of these varied solutions and should be an integral part of your fleet management plan. Your charging control platform should offer multiple configurable settings that give your Fleet Manager the flexibility to establish charging protocols which meet EV fleet needs.
And yet, while you need the flexibility that the best smart charging control platforms offer, you should not have to sacrifice set-it-and-forget-it operation to get that flexibility. A flexible system should give you the ability to configure your charging control platform to best support your electric fleet needs so that you don’t have to babysit the system like an overbearing helicopter parent. Set it to your unique needs and forget it – until circumstances require you to make adjustments to your charging protocols.
Those circumstances could be fleeting – weather issues, priority projects, driver availability – or permanent. Factors necessitating permanent changes to your charging protocols could include expansion of your EV fleet, addition of new charger technology, the opening of new charging depots, a change in hours of operation, acquisition of new business, new or revised utility tariff programs, or the addition of onsite power generation. Regardless of the factor, your smart charging control platform should deliver the flexibility to handle these changes without requiring you to replace your charging control system. It has to be flexible enough to grow with you and your changing needs.
The need for flexibility has driven the development of our EVauto charging control software for over a decade. Our proprietary software was designed to deliver charging flexibility to each fleet charging depot and each Fleet Manager. It’s why each software installation begins with us talking with you and your team to determine the specific needs of each of your charging depots and establish the optimal configuration for each site. Should circumstances require you to make a change on the fly, EVauto provides tools to manually override specific chargers without sacrificing energy – or cost -- savings.
At the end of the day, a charging control platform that offers flexibility and provides options is what Fleet Managers dream of. A charging control system that provides that flexibility while maximizing your cost savings and ROI…to paraphrase Kevin Costner: It isn’t Iowa; it’s heaven.