“Investment and reward” – Why the success of the UK’s EV charge point network depends on operators getting their sums right
Electric vehicle (EV) charge point networks are on the cusp of dynamic growth as they gear up for 2030 and the government’s ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.
Analysis by SMMT and Frost and Sullivan shows that a full, zero emission-capable UK new car market will require 1.7 million public charge points by the end of the decade and 2.8 million by 2035. Such a huge infrastructure will involve large numbers of private sector companies in the installation and management of EV charge points over the coming years. These companies will have to adapt as the network continually grows and changes in line with evolving demand. How the companies manage the charging points in various locations ranging from dedicated hubs to service stations and private car parks, will determine their profitability.
A survey commissioned by Yotta (which can be downloaded for free here) revealed potential damage from poor asset management. A quarter (25%) of UK employees involved with the management, installation, and supply of electric vehicle charge points say EV charge point downtime will cost them over £90,000 a year. Nearly a third of respondents (32%) see more staff as being the most important resource their EV charge point site will need as their asset network grows.
The research also found there is a high level of recognition that high-quality asset management will drive revenues. More than seven-in-ten (71%) of respondents agreed that spending more on asset management for devices and sites will increase profit margins.
Many however, still rely on analogue methods to monitor and maintain their networks, including field inspections, using information from call centre contacts with disgruntled motorists, or from mobile phone apps. Nearly a third (31%) currently schedule engineers manually, using paper forms or reports. And fewer than half of the insiders surveyed (49%) said they are using real-time monitoring software that makes responses faster and reduces downtime.
If the future electronic charging point infrastructure is to remain profitable for its operators, then many will need to change the way they approach management and maintenance. A third of the survey respondents (33%), for example, said they needed more data from and about the charging points.
Companies can only overcome the challenges of inadequate data, poor reporting and weak capabilities in maintenance scheduling if they, or their technology partners, use infrastructure asset management software solutions and associated services.
These solutions include everything from asset lifecycle management, to budgeting, connecting teams, technology and assets. They ensure access to better and more extensive data so organisations make smarter and quicker decisions. This approach helps strike the right balance between reactive and proactive maintenance. Solutions can log asset history, discover significant data patterns and streamline workflows and processes.
Operators need to be able to automate workflows and digitise asset management to save time and improve accuracy and agility so, for example, engineers are always sent where they are most needed and achieve the biggest impact. Managements need to have access to analytical capabilities to predict where to focus their teams and their investment, pivoting swiftly to meet shifts in demand.
As networks expand and the number of charging points increases along with intensity of use, these will become vital capabilities for operators. Since charging points will become a critical part of the public infrastructure, consumer patience with poor performance is likely to be very limited. To maintain profitability and adapt to the future, a great many operators will need much better asset management than they currently have.
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