What is a Charging Management Software for Electric Vehicles?
Electric Vehicles (EVs) are becoming more and more popular around the world.
More than 200,000 electric vehicles were sold in the USA in the first quarter of 2022.
All these EVs on the road mean that more and more charging stations are needed. If you operate an EV charging site, manage an EV fleet, or offer a charging point as part of your business, then there’s a good chance that you’ll have heard of Charging Management Software, or CMS for short.
In this article, we’ll explain exactly what Charging Management Software is, how it works, and why you may benefit from implementing it.
Why everybody needs EV Charging Management Software (CMS)
Charging Management Software (CMS) is used by fleet operators, charging operators, and others, to monitor and optimize electric vehicle charging operations. It is important for the CMS to be reliable, scalable, and easy to connect to existing systems.
If you want to compare your electric vehicle charging site with space exploration, the CMS is the mission control center!
By directly connecting to EV chargers, a CMS is able to not only keep track of charging activities but also manage the network’s power consumption. It can also modify charger behavior, within parameters, to reach certain targets.
The CMS is typically fully automated and doesn’t need human attention, but it can send critical alerts if necessary. Besides the fundamental monitoring functionalities, modern EV charging systems also help to optimize the charging site operations.
For example, if the charging site uses time-variable energy prices (TOU rates or demand charges), the CMS is able to reduce the charger’s energy consumption at times when the energy is at its most expensive.
Here, we will discuss core functionalities, benefits, and the various use cases of CMS and help you decide if you need to implement it.
What are some core CMS functionalities?
Energy Management & Utility Integration
Ability to manage the charger’s power consumption, as well as the site’s power. With Smart Charging, users can optimize site operations and also receive utility signals for demand response (DR events) or vehicle-to-grid (V2G events), as well as respond to variable energy prices, such as TOU rates or Spot Pricing.
Energy Management may include the control of external power sources, such as building loads, solar power, and solar batteries. These external sources can be included in the charging behavior, allowing more control over the entire site’s power consumption.
Fleet Optimization & Vehicle Telematics
For fleet managers, it is important to access not only the chargers’ data, but also vehicle data. CMS can provide a fleet management system that will allow ground operators to manage the site’s charging operations more smoothly by creating more visibility of the charging power, vehicle SoC, and even vehicle schedules.
If chargers are part of a publicly accessible site, charging point operators might want to supply payment options for customers when charging their EVs. This can include B2C credit card payment options or B2B service level contracts for other companies.
Any payment system will require access to the total energy consumption and other charging session data to calculate prices for customers.
The CMS provides a billing system that distinguishes the type of operations, customers, and even the type of vehicles. This allows customers to track payments with a high degree of flexibility and precision.
The CMS allows extensive monitoring of the on-site charging hardware. The real-time control helps people to get a detailed picture of their operations and make sure there are no issues.
Typical charging point hardware errors such as broken spare parts, flaky wireless communication, and OCPP messages or firmware errors, can cause unnecessary downtime. CMS can inform the charging point operator if errors were identified.
Charging stations generate energy costs. To control costs, CPOs often want to limit who has access to the chargers. For fleet operators, this might be the ground staff and drivers. For public charging, this might be registered users or anyone with a credit card.
CMS has a variety of authentication options to restrict access to defined user groups. The CMS can give access via RFID cards, credit cards, mobile apps, or even with the use of vehicle identifiers.
Alert System & Troubleshooting
The CMS provides an alert system that lets the customer know about any hardware, charging, or operational issues. These alerts can reach the customer via email and text, as well as directly through the CMS dashboard. The customer can then troubleshoot any issues as they arise.
How to choose the best Charging Management Software for your operations?
Charging Management Software can be used for a number of different use cases, depending on several factors, including charging point type and location.
CMS can be used for large combined charging locations such as commercial parking lots, employee parking, fleet depots, residential apartment blocks, etc. It can also be used for individual EV charging points at domestic home locations.
It is important that the CMS you choose has the features necessary for your operations.
Here are a few typical use case examples:
Electric Fleet Operations
Let’s say you have a bus fleet that will need fast DC chargers in order to get the vehicles charged and ready for their next shift. Managing the peak power consumption will be essential in order to keep energy costs down.
If your buses have long idle times, you might want to subscribe to a V2G program with your utility provider in order to capitalize on your site’s charging operations.
Key required CMS Features:
- Vehicle telematics integration
- Load sharing for fleets
- V2G capabilities
If you offer public charging, let’s say outside a supermarket, you might want to consider:
- Managing not only the charger’s power usage but also the building’s power consumption so you don’t oversubscribe your power capacity.
- Managing the charger’s power load, and dynamic load sharing, so there are no power outages due to the usage.
- Providing payment methods for the users who are charging their EVs
Key required CMS Features:
- Building Load optimization
- Load Sharing Optimization
- Payment Method
24/7 Carbon Neutral Operations
Today, some companies are opting to make their operations carbon neutral. For a depot, this means they will need to access renewable energies for their operations. These operations may entail electric vehicle fleet charging and warehouse energy consumption. In this case, you might want to consider:
- Including solar energy and batteries in your depot in order to access clean energy when available and not rely on utilities.
- Managing your charging operations closely, making sure all vehicles will be ready for their shift.
- Making sure the warehouse and charging loads do not exceed your site’s power capabilities.
Key required CMS Features:
- Building Load Optimization
- Load Sharing Optimization
- Vehicle Schedule Integration
- Solar Energy and Battery Optimization
CMS improves charging and makes your life easier
As you can see, managing charging operations is not easy. Charging EVs is an increasingly complex task, especially since the introduction of new renewable energy programs, pricing systems such as spot pricing and TOU rates, and the growing pressure on the electric grid.
Ampcontrol’s software system specializes in optimization algorithms that help users to ensure a reliable and efficient charging operation. We currently provide our customers with various benefits, including dynamic load sharing, energy cost optimization, vehicle schedule integrations, DR and V2G events, building load optimization, and solar energy optimization.
Our software combines different optimization targets and applies multi-objective algorithms to approach the different customer needs.
Read more about our optimization capabilities on: What is Smart Charging for Electric Vehicles?