How to start electrifying logistics fleets on the right foot

How to get started with electrifying logistics fleets

The logistics sector is a good place to use electric vehicles. The number of online shoppers and deliveries has grown during the COVID-19 pandemic. This growth is especially seen in urban areas. Clean transport policies and an increasing focus on sustainable cities means that the last-mile is quickly moving towards using electric vehicles. For example, online supermarket Picnic has already started using 100% electric vehicles for deliveries. Retail giant Amazon has also committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2040.

But many logistics and delivery fleets are just starting up with this process, experimenting with their first electric vehicles and charging strategies. This means they are now in the perfect position to look at best practices in the electrification of fleets and start their electric journey on the right foot with a smart, scalable strategy for the future.

What are some of the most important things to keep in mind before kick-starting an electric logistics fleet operation? Let's take a look below.

Integrating charging infrastructure into your site

If your business is starting to go electric, one pain point you might run into is not having enough thought put into the charging infrastructure. This can be a problem for fleets and the logistics sector. Even though buying your first electric vehicles is important, you also need to look at the existing depot and grid infrastructure and plan for any potential upgrades in the long term.

There are many factors to consider when deciding to electrify your site. Things like the grid connection, parking spots, driveways, and the best places for charging infrastructure all need to be taken into account.

Electric vehicles will take a few months to a few years to be delivered to the depot. This means that the charging infrastructure for these vehicles must be set up in advance. Otherwise, the new electric fleet will not be able to function properly.

You need to think about when you should install the charging infrastructure. It's not just about buying and installing a charger. You also need to think about how big the grid needs to be, and if it needs to be upgraded. That takes a long time, so you need to plan ahead and understand what you need from the charging infrastructure before you rollout electric vehicles.

To think about the charging infrastructure, the fleet charging process must also be considered. Unlike an ICE equivalent, an electric vehicle cannot get to a full 'tank' in two minutes. Perhaps the new EVs are also going to be used on new routes, or existing routes need to be adapted so that the operator can make the best out of their new vehicles.

Choosing the right partner to design and build your EV fleet depot

Many operators will start their electrification process even if they don't have prior experience in setting up a charging site for an electric fleet. This is totally normal.

It is even more important to choose the right electrification partner. This partner should have a lot of experience with designing and building electric depots. They should also be able to help you plan the site, choose the electrical equipment, and manage energy use. It is also helpful if this partner has experience working with different engineering companies.

Choosing the right hardware and fleet management software

You should find a partner who can provide a charging solution that also has integrated management software. This will allow you to choose from a variety of charging hardware, including AC and DC chargers. You should also consider factors like build quality, warranty, and how fast you can integrate new chargers as your business grows.

Fleet management software is important to have for an efficient logistics operation. Most operators in this field are already familiar with planning tools. With both vehicles and chargers that need to be monitored, a centralized operation, with IT tools that can exchange change data, becomes essential.

This allows operators to manage energy easily, improve the accessibility of charging points, and use smart charging processes to make the most of the existing infrastructure while minimizing costs and increasing vehicle time on the road.

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