Many fleet managers are currently facing the challenge of transitioning from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to electric vehicles (EVs).
The transition is made all the more complicated by the fact that a whole new infrastructure needs to be set up and charging systems and schedules implemented.
Therefore, fleet managers must pay close attention to yard management, as it underpins the successful deployment of EV fleets and the smooth running of fleet operations. In this article, we’ll look at what good yard management entails and how to achieve it.
What does good yard management look like?
Yard management is all about optimization.
The fleet manager and all members of the fleet operations team play a part in achieving good yard management by monitoring fleet activities in the yard and identifying optimization opportunities.
These days, digital technology can help the fleet operations team to monitor yard infrastructure, such as charging points, and track the movement of trucks, trailers, and other vehicles. Smart software can be implemented to provide real-time data and information about the yard’s assets.
Yard management challenges
The traditional ways of managing a fleet yard are unsuitable in the age of EVs and digital technology. Many fleet operators still rely on outdated practices such as:
- Clipboard and paper for data collection and activity monitoring
- Manual spreadsheets to collate data
- Lightweight data analysis
Applying these outdated manual processes leads to problems such as:
- A lack of full operational visibility
- Inability to fully optimize yard activities, including EV charging
- Unsynchronized dock planning
- Suboptimal vehicle movement
- Gate chokeholds.
In order to improve the way a fleet yard is managed, fleet managers need to embrace smart technology, such as charging management systems (CMS), which we’ll look at in more detail in a moment.
Benefits of EV yard management
Implementing a coherent and connected yard management system helps optimize vehicles' movement and performance by delivering real-time data on yard activities and assets.
In other words, good yard management helps to reduce inefficiencies, remove bottlenecks, and improve overall asset management.
When it comes to EVs, the benefits of digitally-enhanced yard management are even more pronounced than with ICEs. For instance, yard management can help to:
- Optimize charging activities
- Fine-tune charging schedules
- Improve the availability of delivery vehicles at peak times
- Enable intricate and precise planning
- Reduce gate congestion
- Improve yard safety.
The power of combining yard management with CMS
Charging management systems (CMS), such as Ampcontrol, is an essential tool for EV fleet managers or those in the process of transitioning to an EV fleet.
Many existing depots and warehouses are not currently fully equipped with the correct infrastructure to deal with EVs. EVs, take a lot of daily energy, power, and time, especially for busy fleets. Many fleet managers will find themselves facing grid constraints and on-site charging issues. These problems may lead to costly and slow infrastructure upgrades.
Additionally, many yards will use distributed energy resources (DERs) or renewable energy to support their EV charging, such as solar panels paired with on-site batteries.
A CMS can help to optimize charging operations within the confines of grid constraints by maximizing the cheaper and greener use of DERs.
Ampcontrol is an intelligent CMS that will optimize EV charging within the limitations of the yard. It can be used as a yard management tool to help manage space constraints, departure and arrival schedules, and other yard-related activities.
Combining fleet and yard management with charging schedules and the data capture and analysis power of a CMS helps to drastically improve fleet efficiency.
Dynamic scheduling of charging operations
One of the main benefits of integrating yard management with a CMS is that you enable dynamic EV charging scheduling.
Dynamic charging scheduling means that you can direct certain vehicles to specific chargers at certain times based on the vehicle’s energy requirements and departure times. The CMS will also dynamically adjust the power delivery to different chargers based on specific vehicle requirements.
This joined-up approach to charging EVs means that you can save money, too, as it enables ‘load shifting,’ which means rescheduling charging to times at which the electricity rates are cheaper.
It also enables ‘load shaving,’ which carefully controls the charge rate of EVs when plugged in, which reduces the total peak power usage.
Case study of effective yard management with a CMS
In this section, we will provide a brief overview of how a bus transit system that’s currently transitioning to electric buses can benefit from a CMS and yard management.
For example, the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority is currently in the process of buying 500 electric buses to add to its fleet between 2022 and 2024, as well as installing new charging infrastructure across eight depots.
The benefits of combining a CMS and yard management in an example like this are:
- Precision charging schedules and logistics – The CMS can direct buses with longer routes, and thus need a longer charge, to go to the furthest chargers from the entrance to reduce gate congestion. It can also send vehicles to specific chargers based on the departure time and needed SoC for the next day.
- Enable on-route charging – The CMS can allow for additional charging sites and plan for overnight charging in the depot and where the vehicle will need to charge on-route the following day.
- Take into account all electricity consumption – Depots also use electricity for maintenance and service activities, such as bus washing stations. The CMS can consider these other real-time consumption activities and allocate power to chargers more appropriately.
- Optimize charging for time and money-saving – A good CMS will help fleet operators to reduce charging costs, reduce demand charges, and maximize revenue with on-time departures.
- Become more energy efficient and eco-friendly – If the yard has solar or wind generation capabilities combined with on-site batteries, the CMS will help to prioritize and optimize the use of these greener energy sources over grid power.
One of the most important considerations when adding EVs to your fleet is how to manage your yard effectively.
Yard management is a pivotal part of any successful fleet operation. Combining yard management with a charming management system (CMS) will help you to optimize your charging operations, save money and time, and make sure that your vehicles run on-time with the right amount of charge.
Read more about monitoring and optimizing your charging operations here: What is a Charging Management Software for Electric Vehicles?