Fleet managers who are in charge of trucks, buses, or other passenger vehicles experience serious challenges in today’s world.
Passenger vehicle users or logistics customers have high expectations these days. Rapid on-time delivery and prompt arrival and departure times are considered the norm. Fleet managers also contend with growing pressure from C-level execs and senior management to reduce total costs of ownership (TCO).
And to cap it off, fleet managers also face the demands of increasingly complex and rapidly-changing fleet technology.
The challenges that arise with new fleet technology
Fleet technology includes anything from hardware devices that log information and data to smart software systems that make automated decisions based on data analysis. It also includes advancements in actual vehicle technology such as better tires, new materials, etc.
Of all the fleet technology advances, software development is the one that changes most quickly. With agile development practices, increased computing power, and remote updates, changes to software can happen on a monthly or even weekly basis.
Fleet managers often find it challenging to keep track of and stay up-to-date with new fleet maintenance systems, workforce management platforms, and route scheduling tools.
Additionally, fleet managers need to adapt to the rise of electric fleets. Over the past year or so, we’ve seen the announcement and development of new electric delivery vans, electric buses, and electric trucks by major vehicle manufacturers or newcomers to the market. The driving force for this change has been to meet the demand put on logistics and passenger companies to hit environmental targets and reduce carbon emissions.
Alongside these developments, fleet software has been forced to adapt too.
Let’s take a look at the main features of electric vehicle fleet software systems, including cloud-based software, and how new EV fleet charging software can help fleet managers.
1. Rapid software innovation for fleets with electric vehicles
The charging of electric vehicles for fleets is one of the top three challenges in the market.
The other top two critical problems for fleets planning to go fully electric is the mileage range of the electric trucks or buses and uncertainty surrounding total costs of ownership (TCO) of the fleet.
Why are these three problems so important to solve for the future of electric fleets?
The answer lies in the targets and KPIs faced by fleet managers. These are typical:
Reduce the fleet’s total costs of operation and new capital investments
Make sure that the vehicles depart on-time
Avoid out-of-service time or vehicle breakdowns.
Previously, employees of large fleet companies have gathered vast knowledge and experience regarding combustion engine vehicles. They had decades in which to learn the efficient fleet operation and improve things year on year.
But now the time has come to change the entire system.
Instead of having the luxury of 30 to 50 years to learn and adapt, they must optimize electric fleets in less than ten years. How is this even possible?
The only way to succeed is to apply new software technology.
Human capital is still required and highly important for this transition. However, software systems have developed the capability to automate repetitive tasks and support the learning process.
Moreover, the risk of mistakes or errors can drastically drop once fleet managers apply intelligent software systems for electric vehicles.
Software innovation can help with tasks such as:
Scheduling charging events for vehicles that just finished a trip.
Calculating the right ratio of electric vehicles and charge points.
Monitoring the charging process of individual electric vehicles.
Applying intelligent energy management to reduce required installations.
Automatically adjusting the charging of electric vehicles based on energy rates.
2. Integrated cloud-systems for electric fleet management
Electric vehicle charging needs hardware. That much is obvious.
However, many people incorrectly assume that you use hardware only to charge your fleet efficiently. The reason for the lack of software comes from the underrepresented number of innovative software companies in the energy and utility markets.
Like banking and insurance that faced large scale disruption when the internet came along, energy companies have modeled their new systems on existing ones that didn’t include smart software systems.
However, cloud computing has proven to be the most efficient way to make up for this lack of built-in software capabilities. Cloud-based systems are typically 10x cheaper than hardware-based systems or edge systems, are easy to scale, and have higher reliability and faster maintenance.
The most important benefit offered by cloud-based software is that you can integrate existing fleet systems more easily, and often remotely, to your new charging systems.
Assuming you already use systems to plan and track maintenance or prepare vehicle schedules and routes, you can connect relevant data points such as departure time and planned miles (or km) per vehicle to your smart charging software for electric vehicles.
In doing so, you eliminate any additional manual tasks when switching from combustion engines to electric vehicles.
As an example, our engineering team made it possible to integrate each vehicle’s departure time into the smart charging software for electric vehicles.
3. Fully-automated EV fleet charging software
As mentioned before, many tasks that have successfully been automated in previous decades now become redundant when switching to EV fleets. Tracking gas consumption or reporting exhaustive data systems to a central fleet management system will not help electric trucks or buses.
Falling back into the familiar ways of manual coordination and management of vehicles is not the right approach.
The goal should be to use fully-automated coordination and management for electric vehicles and the EV charging processes.
Many daily tasks and critical decisions can be taken over by smart software. Tasks such as:
which vehicles to charge first
how to ensure that 30% of the fleet is ready by 6 AM
how to reduce monthly energy costs.
Things have progressed massively over the past 15 years when companies were designing and implementing software systems for combustion vehicle fleets. Cloud computing and AI have come to the fore, providing many advantages.
For example, here at Ampcontrol, our CTO manages to push out 3 or 4 weekly automatic software updates to improve the performance and reliability of our smart charging software for electric vehicles and algorithms.
Now is an excellent time to be involved in fleet management.
Yes, there are challenges to be faced as fleets transition from combustion engines to electric vehicles.
But the technological advances made in recent years have led to highly sophisticated software that is cloud-based and AI-powered. In other words, modern fleet management software is continually improving, can be remotely updated, and is automating more and more activities, including important decision-making.