HOW TO UNLEASH THE FULL POTENTIAL OF BATTERY-POWERED FLEETS IN COMMERCIAL OPERATIONS
This article discusses the impact of fleet electrification. This is an increasingly important sector, as commercial operators, organizations, and city or regional municipalities are strongly prioritizing the transition to zero-emission fleets over the next few years. The modes of transport range from individual mobility, such as cars, to public transport such as electric buses or micro-mobility, which are managed professionally in vehicle fleets. All of these leverage the power of the battery.
The only way to reduce air pollution in cities as well as to fight climate change is to move towards zero-emission vehicles. After years of testing different technologies, including hydrogen, most fleet managers in the public sector and operators of larger commercial fleets are now opting for electric vehicles. Yet, some hesitancy remains and there are concerns regarding this new technology. Where do these come from, and how can they be addressed?
Collective value of 100 e-bus batteries exceeds 10 million euro
Firstly, while the total cost of ownership for electric vehicles is low compared to that of petrol-powered vehicles, the initial investments are higher, mainly driven by the costs for the battery. The battery remains at the center of most concerns, as it is the single most expensive component of the vehicle, making up 30-50% of the total costs. The collective battery value of e-bus fleets quickly reaches millions of euros. Since the battery cannot be repaired when broken, the solution to a battery failure is a costly replacement. Without years of experience and in the face of a relatively unproven technology, fleet managers are worried about this prospect. Manufacturers address this with long lasting but often complex warranties. These often differ between different manufacturers, come at a price, and sometimes with optional features, such as an extension after four or five years.
How can commercial fleet operators make the right decisions without relying heavily on guesswork in this environment? And how can fleet operations be optimized to play to the electric vehicles’ strength, even beyond the investment decisions?
Eliminate fleet management guesswork with battery data
The key to all the above is providing insights into the battery from which the right actions can be derived. These insights are specific to each individual vehicle and battery, replacing rule-of-thumb-based decisions with data-driven ones.
TWAICE’s predictive analytics software gives commercial fleet operators the transparency they need. Already when purchasing a new vehicle for the fleet, it is possible to benchmark the actual bus performance across the fleet and have information about required warranties available. This enables the fleet operator not only to make the right purchasing decisions but also bridge the information asymmetry in negotiations. The warranty status and the genuine vehicle health status are available at a fingertip. Decisions that protect the asset and respect constraints of the daily operations are based on data.
The key is in the advanced analytics platform. Any electric vehicle can be connected to the platform and the data integration layer ensures that any kind of data ingested is checked for quality and processed into a unified data model in real-time. Different machine learning methods and battery domain-specific algorithms are leveraged to assess battery health and enable predictions of the remaining useful lifetime for all sorts of scenarios. The fleet manager can access these analytics results and other platform services, such as alerting or reporting, either directly online in the TWAICE dashboard or in their preferred fleet management software through a software integration.
Example for Fleet Management Software Integration
Commercial fleet operators and OEMs can use TWAICE as standalone solution or seamlessly access TWAICE’s comprehensive battery analytics as an integrated part of telematic & fleet management software providers via a fleet management dashboard, such as that of ViriCiti. The Dutch company was recently acquired by ChargePoint to complement its range of charging solutions. Its telematics services are already delivering fleet management solutions to over 3,500 buses and charging stations. TWAICE uses extensive data from ViriCiti’s telematics units to produce comprehensive analyses and simulations of fleet battery health – available as Battery Health add-on to the ViriCiti dashboard. Read the case study of a bus operator benefiting from the battery health add-on during warranty discussions here.
Battery analytics is a key value-driver
There are numerous advantages to augmenting fleet management with predictive battery analytics. Customers receive precise data on their batteries’ state of health (SoH), predictions of remaining capacity, energy throughput, and range without time consuming and costly testing procedures. Assessments of e.g., inner resistance, provide insights into battery performance and charging optimizations. Commercial fleet operators can check the often-vague promises of the warranty conditions or extend battery usage after end of life with detailed remote diagnostics.
The lifetime simulations of different operating and use scenarios enable a quick insight into their impact on the battery and allow for lifetime optimizations of up to 25%. An application-oriented interpretation of the data shows in which phases of use the battery is particularly stressed. Once the optimal operating strategy has been found, the TWAICE real-time analytics guarantees reliable and safe usage of the battery. Prior to a vehicle service, TWAICE’s predictions identify the battery components with the highest likelihood of failure, thereby enabling timely and targeted maintenance. This is especially needed when commercial fleet operators are fully responsible for maintenance activities.
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TWAICE provides predictive analytics software that optimizes the development and operation of lithium-ion batteries. TWAICE´s core technology is the digital twin – a software that combines deep battery knowledge and artificial intelligence to determine the condition and to predict battery aging and performance.
This makes complex battery systems more transparent, effective and reliable. As the leading battery analytics software for global players in the mobility and energy sectors, TWAICE is committed to increasing the lifetime, efficiency and sustainability of the products that power the economy of tomorrow.