Electric Fleets
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Electric Fleets

What is managed charging and charge management software, and why do you need them?

In the world of fleet electrification, operators are presented with a variety of choices, and to date, emphasis has been on vehicle and charger selection. What is often overlooked, but equally important, is what happens after those decisions are made. Determining when and how to charge has an enormous impact on the operating experience and cost of electrification. Navigating all of this can be overwhelming.

Pitfalls of unmanaged charging

Charging of vehicles at any time that is convenient for the operator is known as “unmanaged charging,” or as I like to call it, the Wild West of EV infrastructure. Charging with this approach wherein you plug your vehicle into your charger, and it begins drawing energy immediately, puts you at the mercy of the utility’s time-of-use rates and demand charges. Utility energy rates can change drastically within any given day and season — sometimes fluctuating as much as 400%. This means, with unmanaged charging, your energy costs are unpredictable, and you could wind up paying significantly more for your power than you might have anticipated before electrifying.

In lieu of going into EV charging operations with an unmanaged approach, some charger OEMs offer a so-called “smart charging” option. These options typically provide fleet operators with a way to turn vehicle charging sessions on or off remotely — without having to physically be next to the charger itself. Some “smart charging” providers also offer some level of sequential charging and/or error alerts. However, smart charging falls far short of the real-world needs of electric vehicle fleets that have to focus on running their businesses, instead of manually controlling their charging schedules. This is where managed charging strategies pick up, and go well beyond the limitations of smart charging.

Benefits of managed charging

Simply put, managed charging is a strategy that optimizes your EVs and EVSEs through remotely controlled vehicle charging by turning it up, down, or even off to better correspond to the needs of the grid and the fleet. A holistic managed charging solution provides a comprehensive energy management approach aimed at reducing total cost of ownership and prolonging equipment health. Not only does managed charging provide remote stop/start for charging sessions, but intelligent charge management providers also adapt dynamically — responding to changes in schedules, duty cycles, and grid requirements.

In support of our white paper, we took a deep dive into the electric fuel rates of the top 25 metros in the U.S. to uncover the benefits of managed charging. In our research and analysis, we’ve found that fleet managers operating electric vehicles can save as much as 42% when using a managed charging strategy over unmanaged charging.

Why you need charge management software

Fully managed charging with charge management software can integrate with existing telematics, fleet management, and/or route scheduling tools, so fleet operators can not only continue to use the tools they need for their businesses, but also aggregate that data into a platform that leverages the information to improve operational efficiency. Managed charging solutions can also strategically connect to a fleet’s utility API to track energy costs, and automatically orchestrate charging sessions when those costs are low. A managed charging solution ensures that fleets are powered when they need to be, in the most cost-efficient way possible.

Palermo Union Elementary School District, in Butte County, California, transitioned 80% of their school bus fleet to electric vehicles, and in so doing, discovered their need for a managed charging solution. Through AMPLY Power’s OMEGA CMS and Charging-as-a-Service, they were able to cut their energy costs in half. Palermo now pays 50% less than their previous electricity costs from their unmanaged EV fleet charging.

Similarly, Tri Delta Transit embarked on their electrification journey without a charge management strategy, and after receiving exorbitantly high energy bills, sought AMPLY’s OMEGA CMS to minimize utility demand charges. By employing managed charging for the EV bus fleet, Tri Delta was able to save 40% on their energy costs.

AMPLY’s OMEGA Charge Management System is a complete energy management provider, encompassing intelligent, cloud-based software that automates charging sessions when energy costs are low, and onsite hardware that integrates with your utility to automate your load management and keep your equipment healthy. Unlike other charging solutions, OMEGA is technology agnostic — so you can use the hardware and tools that best fit your fleet. Request a demo to learn more!

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