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Charging Technology

3 Tips to Improve EV Fleet Charger Reliability


June 14, 2024

Malfunctioning chargers are an EV fleet manager’s worst nightmare. 

If you run an EV fleet or you’re in the process of transitioning to one, the last thing you want is for one or more chargers to go down just before a crucial busy period. It can cripple your operations. 

That’s why we’ve put together this quick guide with 3 impactful tips to help improve your fleet charger reliability.

1. Implement Predictive Maintenance

At the moment, most fleets use a reactive maintenance approach – wait for something to go wrong, then try and fix it in a hurry.

The problem with this approach is by the time something goes wrong with a charger, it’s too late. The disruption has already happened.

It doesn’t need to be this way. Problems such as overheating chargers can be sorted out in advance, so long as you apply a predictive maintenance strategy that incorporates OCPP data.

But that isn’t as easy as it seems. OCPP chargers send large amounts of data through to your computer system, including session data and error messages. Sorting through all that data manually is difficult, especially if you have a large fleet and multiple chargers.

What you need is a system that helps you sift through all the data and pinpoint any issues that may be about to arise.

Smart Charging Management Software (CMS)

Modern smart charging management systems can provide exactly what you’re looking for in terms of implementing predictive maintenance. 

A smart charging software system like Ampcontrol is designed to speak with OCPP chargers and gather reams of data. After deep analysis, it flags up error messages related to connectivity, uptime, or general software issues.

The most important features of a good CMS are:

  • Rapid notifications – instant alerts sent to devices and desktop
  • Detailed info – Indicator of specific potential errors, e.g. whether it is a charger, EV, or software-related issue.
  • Valuable insights – Automatically generated insights into metering and session data patterns that may indicate trouble ahead.

An AI engine helps to automatically monitor and track charger health and performance around-the-clock. Predictive algorithms cross reference current data with historical data to flag up any sign of problems immediately. This means you can see issues brewing before they become a serious problem.

For example, AI-powered smart charging solution Ampcontrol recently added an emergency stop function that prevents the risk of expensive equipment damage ahead of time.

As soon as a potential problem is flagged up, you can schedule in proactive predictive maintenance. Just make sure to plan it for off-peak hours to minimize operational disruption, otherwise it defeats the object.

2. Invest in Quality Data

Let’s say one of your major chargers malfunctions and your current CMS doesn’t display error logs effectively. It can take hours or even days just to diagnose the issue. This can throw your charging schedule out of line and have a domino effect across your operations.

To avoid this scenario, you need to invest in quality data. There are three important things to look for when you choose a CMS. It must be able to:

  • receive and store large amounts of data,
  • display the data in easy-to-understand ways, 
  • and allow you to easily export data to additional business intelligence (BI) tools.

Robust Data Collection 

The accuracy of charger data is a big concern for fleet managers.

Imagine this – one of your main chargers shows full charge to your vehicles, but in reality, the vehicles have only been partially charged. In this case, something as simple as an inaccurate data reading could be to blame for long delays.

That’s why you need to collect data accurately through reliable sensors and IoT devices. Make sure your charging hardware manufacturer has implemented OCPP, the gold standard communication protocol for charging infrastructure.

With OCPP configured correctly, you can enable relevant meter values and capture accurate data on temperature, frequency, voltage, energy consumption, and more. 

Choosing A Smart CMS

If you want all the data you need right at your fingertips, then take time to select the right smart CMS. 

Looks for capabilities that make accurate data readily available, such as:

  • OCPP compatibility
  • Strong time-series functions
  • Access to more than 1 year of data (ideally 5 years to identify session and seasonal patterns)
  • Robust encryption and authentication measures – if you work for a large corporation, you may want to ask the CMS provider to enable Single Sign-on (SSO)
  • Compliance with data protection regulations
  • Clear data visualizations

Some CMS providers, such as Ampcontrol, will liaise with you and your team to request new features and collaborate with engineers to test any additional features.

3. Ensure 24/7 Support Coordination

It doesn’t matter how carefully you plan, maintain, and monitor your fleet and chargers – issues are bound to happen. 

Even with robust data capture and predictive maintenance measures in place – unforeseen problems will always come up, but don’t worry – there will be less of them!

The worst thing is – you never know when these things will happen. If you get a couple of primary charger failures in the middle of the night on a particularly busy week, it can cause major disruptions the next day.

That’s why you need to make sure that you try to set up on-call availability for 24 hours a day. This doesn’t mean your team has to sit watching dashboards all day long. They just need to be available in case an urgent issue crops up.

This is where the value of instant alerts is obvious. It’s more than just knowing that there's a problem – it's about swiftly identifying its nature and how to fix it. 

For example, if an alert comes through about connectivity issues on several chargers, you can trace the issue back to source – e.g. a network glitch – rather than waste time inspecting the actual chargers. This kind of immediate response can save you hours of potentially fruitless troubleshooting and hands-on diagnostics.

Achieving 99% Charger Uptime

A key goal for most EV fleets is to achieve a 99% charger uptime. For this, you need immediate response and issue resolution. Even a few hours delay can make uptime drop closer to 95%

Don’t worry if your team is too small or located in one location or time zone only. You can work with comprehensive smart charging partners like Ampcontrol to offer 24/7/365 monitoring and support throughout night times and weekends.

One of the keys to successful issue resolution and predictive maintenance is to establish open communication channels with the charger and vehicle manufacturers. Support partners can help you to coordinate and tackle issues between different parties. 

Ampcontrol – Boosting Charger Reliability with AI-Powered Smart Charging is a comprehensive smart charging solution that helps you take control of your charging infrastructure and maximize uptime. 

Experience the future of EV charging today – book an Ampcontrol demo.

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Charger Uptime, Charger Reliability, Electric Fleet Reliability
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Ampcontrol is a cloud-based software that seamlessly connects to charging networks, vehicles, fleet systems, and other software systems. No hardware needed, just a one-time integration.