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EV Charging Station Management: Make it Efficient

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August 27, 2023

The rapid growth in electric vehicle (EV) adoption is creating opportunities and challenges for charge point operators (CPOs) and EV service providers (EVSPs). Successfully managing a network of EV charging stations requires following best practices to maximize uptime, meet customer expectations, and optimize operations.

Monitor Network in Real-Time

Having real-time visibility into the status of every charging station and port is the foundation for proactive management. Look for a management platform that provides an intuitive dashboard displaying real-time status across the network. Alerts should instantly notify operators when issues occur so they can be addressed quickly. Real-time monitoring paired with real-time alerts enables a proactive approach to maximizing uptime.

Around-the-clock monitoring is essential even for smaller networks. Issues can occur at any time, and immediate awareness combined with rapid response is key. Larger networks with thousands of ports across hundreds of locations further benefit from comprehensive real-time monitoring. Multiple stakeholders from field technicians to customer service agents rely on access to real-time data for different aspects of management.

Monitor Network in Real-Time

Resolve Issues Remotely

Given the distributed nature of EV charging networks, the ability to remotely diagnose and resolve problems is a best practice. Experts estimate up to 80% of software-related issues can potentially be fixed remotely through resets, firmware updates, or configuration changes. Being able to remotely restore service avoids costly truck rolls and maximizes uptime.

Look for management platforms with advanced remote troubleshooting capabilities. For example, automated self-healing technology can analyze issues in real-time and identify solutions like restarting components or installing updates. The system can then remotely implement fixes without manual intervention. As networks scale, remote management and resolution becomes even more critical for operational efficiency.

Read More: Power Up: An In-Depth Guide to 3 Types of EV Chargers

Inform Management Through Analytics

Network data provides invaluable insights to guide both operational and strategic decision-making. Management platforms should include robust analytics capabilities to turn raw data into actionable business intelligence. Key parameters to analyze include utilization rates, peak usage times, types of ports in use, geographic coverage, and peak load requirements.

Operational teams can use real-time analytics to optimize day-to-day management. For example, understanding utilization patterns helps determine optimal cleaning or maintenance schedules. Strategic planners rely on analytics to inform expansion plans and infrastructure investments. Combining charging data with external data sources like demographics or traffic patterns improves forecasting as well.

Have a Migration Methodology

For CPOs and EVSPs transitioning existing networks to a new management platform, having a proven migration methodology is essential. The process needs to consider impacts across drivers, operators, IT staff, and other stakeholders. A structured approach should cover communications, training, data migration, validating integrations, and executing the cutover.

Experienced providers will have methodologies honed through onboarding customers. Look for predefined processes that mitigate risks at each step. Subject matter experts with niche expertise in areas like APIs, billing, and apps should be involved. Success requires addressing both technology and human elements of the migration.

Have a Migration Methodology

Incorporate Smart Charging

Smart charging and energy management strategies provide new ways to optimize operations. By controlling when and how EVs charge based on algorithms and policies, smart charging aligns demand with factors like energy costs, grid capacity, renewable energy supply, and driver needs.

At the site level, strategies like managed charging and load balancing reduce strain on local infrastructure. Across a campus or microgrid, virtual power plants aggregate distributed energy resources along with storage to reduce peak demand charges. Smart charging also enables integrating more renewables into the grid. Management platforms should include tools to enact customized smart charging strategies.

Read More: Combined Charging System

Ensure Interoperability

Interoperability and compliance with the latest standards and protocols is critical for seamless operations as networks scale. Open standards allow smooth communication between EVs, charging stations, management platforms, drivers, and other ecosystem entities. Support for protocols like OCPP ensures current and future interoperability.

As CPOs and EVSPs expand geographically, roaming partnerships also rely on interoperability. Making sure your management platform complies with standards will avoid integration issues and enable expanding networks through roaming agreements. Seek partners committed to staying aligned with protocols, specifications, and standards as they evolve.

Maximize the Value of Best Practices

Implementing these best practices requires choosing a management platform aligned with your operational objectives. The right solution empowers you to increase uptime, enhance the driver experience, optimize costs, and make informed decisions about growth. By following EV charging management best practices, CPOs and EVSPs can accelerate their leadership in the rapidly evolving market.

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