Published August 23, 2022 in ITS Evaluation Guide
Electric Vehicles (EVs), including buses, are being rapidly introduced into public transport fleets to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and achieve sustainability targets.
However, EVs have created new challenges for operators who must now consider limited vehicle ranges, charging times, and energy consumption fluctuations. EV operators need to make the most efficient use of their vehicles by building vehicle schedules and charging plans around the available battery energy and recharge opportunities.
Evolving EV technology, deployment times, route characteristics, and variable charging options (e.g., overnight and opportunity charging) means that EV fleets are usually a mix of various battery sizes and capacities. Charging plans typically specify when and where an electric bus should recharge. However, traffic delays, detours, temperature variations and passenger load all affect charge levels – making it challenging to adhere to charging plan.
EV management software offers the following benefits:
Service delivery confidence – charging levels and travel times vary between days, so active monitoring of the entire EV fleet gives operators the ability to continually adjust charging plans, so service levels are maintained.
Disruption management – EV management systems also help minimise most disruptions automatically. Control centre alerts only occur during major disruptions.
Lower charging costs – EV management systems allow operators to take advantage of lower electricity tariffs while ensuring batteries are charged to deliver the same level of service.
When considering an EV management system, you should consider the following aspects:
1. Does your control system monitor your EV fleet charge state and synchronise with your charging system?
The control system should automatically synchronise with the charging system, notifying how much to charge the vehicle and how long. The system should communicate using a standard protocol such as the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP). It should also use information based on current and forecast conditions that reflect real-world variables and requirements to calculate ranges – such as topography, passenger counts, temperature, and traffic conditions. This is where real-time monitoring is essential for forecasting remaining ranges and energy balances.
If the remaining range or energy balance is insufficient to complete a scheduled trip, including future trips, then it should alert the control centre who can dispatch a replacement vehicle, arrange for the vehicle to be charged at the nearest available charging station, or extend the duration of the next planned charging session. The control system should also provide tools to deal with disruptions such as delayed arrivals, operational diversions, and charging impacts like faulty charging infrastructure and variable power loads. Controllers and dispatchers monitor this information to prevent breakdowns due to low vehicle charges.
2. Does your control system take advantage of cheaper electricity rates?
By using the charging plan, EV battery vehicle capacity, and current charge levels, your system should provide an optimised environment that takes advantage of lower charging tariffs at specific times. It should also monitor peak consumption to manage charging so that it does not exceed capacity or enter a peak power penalty level. This reduces energy consumption costs while still delivering the required charge for EVs to operate all planned routes.
3. Does your control system minimise disruptions to passengers when you have an unplanned charging event?
If events outside your control cause the EV to run out of charge, your control system should help manage the resultant disruption, like reassigning trips to other vehicles, dispatching additional vehicles from the depot, or in the worst-case, cancelling trips and notifying passengers. Major disruptions should be brought to the attention of the control centre via alerts. During a disruption, your control system should automatically update real-time operations, including route impacts, passenger information and transfer protection systems. The driver should be notified of where to recharge. When connected to a charging point, the driver should be provided with a countdown of when they can return to service.
To see how EV management is done by the LIO Volta system click here.
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Bus, Trams/Light Rail, Ferry
Intelligent Transport Systems
Industry Solutions Manager, ITS