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The Crucial Role of Yard Management in EV Fleet Efficiency


October 19, 2023

As the world moves towards greener alternatives, the transportation industry is one of the biggest areas of change. More and more Electric Vehicles (EVs) are taking to our roads and public transit fleets are following suit. 

However, managing an EV transit fleet brings with it a unique set of challenges and complexities. Fleet managers are under pressure to deal with the allocation of depot space, rising energy costs, bus monitoring, and the efficient adaptation of yard operations. This is where innovative solutions, such as yard management software, step in.

Here we’ll explore the main challenges faced by EV transit fleets and explain the concept of yard management. 

We’ll elaborate on why yard management software has become indispensable and how the integration of multiple interconnected software systems, such as energy management, charging management, and yard management, can revolutionize the industry.

What Are The Main Challenges EV Transit Fleets Face? 

  1. Limited Depot Space
    One of the most pressing challenges for all transit fleets, including those operating electric buses, is the scarcity of depot space. Bus depots are usually designed with a certain capacity in mind, and efficient vehicle organization becomes absolutely essential. However, the space concern is heightened when it comes to EVs. Unlike ICEs, electric buses require additional charging infrastructure to run them. The layout and positioning of these charging points within your depot directly impact how your electric buses navigate the facility and find suitable parking spots. As a fleet operator, you must consider the best placement of chargers for easy access. Strategically located charging stations can improve routing efficiency and reduce depot congestion. Factors such as charging cable length, proximity to bus parking spots, and ease of bus maneuvering are essential considerations during charging infrastructure planning. Additionally, electric buses' charging time is a significant factor, as buses often need to connect to chargers for extended periods. Without careful planning, this could occupy valuable depot space. It's crucial for you to allocate adequate charging areas without hampering your depot's overall operational flow.
  1. Adapting Yard Operations
    When switching from ICE buses to electric buses, transit companies face considerable challenges adjusting their yard operations. A key issue is incorporating charging time into the overall fleet operations. Electric buses need frequent charging to maintain enough range for their routes, which means a robust charging infrastructure is needed. Such infrastructure requires careful planning, coordination with utility companies, and possibly, a substantial initial investment. Incorporating charging time into yard operations is of paramount importance, as it directly influences the readiness of buses for their scheduled routes. Keeping to the schedule is essential for providing efficient and reliable service to passengers, and any deviation could lead to regulatory penalties or fees.
  1. Energy costs:
    Transitioning to an electric transit fleet comes with considerable cost advantages, mainly due to significantly reduced energy costs compared to traditional gas-powered or other ICE sources. Electric buses generally have lower operating costs, primarily driven by lower fueling and maintenance costs. However, energy costs could become a challenge if there are high or unfavorable energy tariffs, or if the charging activities aren't efficiently managed. The electricity cost for charging electric buses can vary based on the time of day, demand charges, and access to renewable energies in some instances. Understanding your energy tariff structure is crucial, as it can significantly impact charging schedules and the total cost of ownership.

What is Yard Management?

Yard management is a key component in the operation of a transit company. Essentially, it's about coordinating all the necessary tasks within your bus depot or facility to ensure your transit fleet runs smoothly and efficiently. This includes:

  • Preparing all buses to be ready for their next scheduled departure
  • Checking that all charging hardware is in good working order
  • Coordinating parking spaces to manage depot traffic effectively
  • Optimizing charging procedures and fleet activities
  • Implementing necessary security measures

Why is Yard Management Software Needed?

Why do you need yard management software? Let's break down some of the key reasons:

  • Monitoring Your Buses in Real-Time: Real-time visibility of all your buses, both within and beyond your depot, is key.
  • Inside the depot – you need to know exactly where your buses are, whether they are ready for upcoming departures, and their departure times. This promotes smooth collaboration between your yard managers and drivers, ensuring timely departures and streamlined operations.
  • When your buses are on the road – it's just as critical to stay informed about potential issues that might affect their performance. Take battery levels, for example – knowing when they're running low allows you to notify drivers promptly to return to the charging depot if necessary. Real-time monitoring helps you to be proactive, optimize operations, and ensure a smooth-running fleet.
  • Keeping an Eye on Your Chargers: Just as you monitor your buses, you need to keep an eye on your chargers. Any fault or improper charging can cause a ripple effect, disrupting all charging operations and potentially your bus schedules. A good yard management software can offer you a comprehensive view, showing you the charger's status, expected charging end time, live power output, and more. 

Close monitoring of your chargers enables you to address issues promptly, maintain optimal charging operations, and ensure a reliable charging infrastructure.

  • Managing Your Space: Effective space management within your depot is made easier with the integration of yard management software. Offering a real-time view of your depot with software allows you to pinpoint the location of buses and chargers at any moment. This is particularly helpful in depots where space is limited and the arrangement of buses entering and leaving can significantly affect fleet performance. With real-time insights, you can make the most of your available space, plan your bus movements strategically, and manage your operations smoothly even within spatial constraints.
  • Planning and Tracking Routes: The benefits of yard management software extend to route planning and tracking too. Integrating planned route schedules allows you to ensure that all departing buses are charged and ready on time. This helps avoid potential disruptions to your transportation schedule, enhancing operational efficiency, improving punctuality, and offering a seamless experience for your passengers.

While traditional yard management software can offer these features, the reality is that electric transit fleets require more complex solutions, capable of considering factors like energy prices and power constraints. At Ampcontrol, our mission is to empower fleet operators like you to transition to electric vehicles through innovative EV fleet charging solutions, supporting you at every step of your journey.

The Power of Combined Software

Joining together energy management, charging management, and yard management software results in a powerful tool for running electric transit fleets. This blend of software offers many benefits and is the perfect way to streamline your fleet operations. Let’s take a look at how each element combines to create the ultimate software solution for your fleet.

Energy and Charging Management

In simple terms, being able to track buses and chargers in real-time is very useful. But for electric transit fleets, it's just as important to keep a close eye on energy costs. That's where the energy management part of the software comes in. It helps fleet operators control and reduce electricity use. It does this by looking at charging patterns, how much energy is needed, and what's happening with the power grid. Then, it sets charging times to keep costs down and avoid peak demand charges. It also makes sure that electric buses are charged when it's cheapest, like during off-peak hours, and uses renewable energy sources when they're available.

Yard Management

The yard management part of the software brings everything together. It lets yard managers see where buses and chargers are and whether they're ready to go. This easy communication between yard managers and drivers means that buses can leave on time. This makes everyone happy - from the passengers to the managers. Plus, the software helps to plan where buses are parked, which is really helpful when space is tight. This way, you can fit as many buses in the yard as possible without causing a traffic jam.

Ampcontrol – the Ultimate Energy and Charging Management Solution for Fleet Yards.

In short, bringing together energy management, charging management, and yard management software offers a lot of benefits for electric transit fleets. 

Ampcontrol keeps an eye on buses and chargers, tracks energy use and charging times, thus helping manage electric fleet yards. Using Ampcontrol can lead to lower energy costs, buses leaving on time, and smooth yard operations. 

With Ampcontrol to assist, fleet operators can run their operations more efficiently, cut costs, and support environmentally-friendly transportation. Book a demo today to see it in action.

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Electric Fleet Yard Management, Electric Vehicle Fleet, Fleet Yard
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