Electric recharging infrastructure. Analysis from an IoT perspective.

Electric mobility is a reality. In some countries it is closer than in others for reasons of legislation, taxation and other more or less sensible factors, but there is no doubt that electric mobility is here to stay and grow.

Although there are still many barriers to mass deployment, various reports indicate that the main constraint (67%) to market development is related to the lack of adequate charging infrastructure.

Aspects such as limited geographical coverage, recharging times, still uncompetitive compared to conventional fuel, or the poor recharging experience -see image- are part of the limitations of the current recharging infrastructure. However, the most frustrating aspect for the user is undoubtedly the unavailability of the service. No one can venture on a trip if they are not sure that they will be able to refuel along the way.

Service availability is an aspect that is undoubtedly improved with the digital integration of recharging points in telemanagement platforms or central systems (CSMS – Charging Station Management System). In GALEO we have experiences that prove it, and this post is about them.

First generation

Isolated and disconnected recharge points.

Second generation

Closed recharging clusters, (shopping mall or parking lot, etc.) connected to each other locally.

Third generation

Globally connected infrastructures, interoperable and integrated with the digital ecosystem.

Currently, there is an optimized infrastructure for domestic recharging and, to a lesser extent, at the point of destination (office, parking, etc.). By their very purpose, these infrastructures are not usually integrated with the digital ecosystem as payment services, or interoperability platforms (allowing the user to charge wherever it is needed regardless of the operator of the charging infrastructure). However, from the perspective of the user of a public recharging infrastructure -capillary and open-, these aspects are essential for the development of a recharging network that generates adequate and ubiquitous service quality and availability.

The recharging infrastructure from the IoT perspective.

For a digital engineer, recharging points are distributed and remote equipment that have a dual functionality:

  1. Supply energy to the user.
  2. Manage the interfaces of the recharging service with the vehicle and the user.

Recharge point manufacturers develop technology for the first of the capabilities. However, to provide the ability to manage the service, it is imperative that the charging points are CONNECTED and TELEMANAGED, designing the service lif ecycle management and charging infrastructure from the perspective of an IoT device.
To provide a third-generation charging infrastructure, you must provide a technological platform for managing connected charging points. A verticalized IoT platform in this business, but ultimately leveraged on the typical capabilities of an IoT platform.

The most important components and capabilities of a digitized recharge infrastructure management platform are -following the architecture diagram in the figure:

  • Bi-directional communication mechanisms between recharge point (RP) – platform.
    • Communication protocols such as OCPP, MQTT, AMQP, etc.
  • Mechanisms for managing the PR life cycle
    • Provisioned/Decommissioned
    • Authorization
    • Security
    • Software update
  • Data persistence and metadata persistence mechanisms
    • Operational data of the recharge fleet such as logs, auditing, diagnostics, etc.
    • Business data such as users, authorizations, recharge points, etc.
  • Data and metadata integration mechanisms to other services and applications that enable the construction of business use cases and data-products.
    • Front-end applications for operating the recharge business
    • Front-end applications for monitoring the technical recharge infrastructure
    • APIs and topics (real-time) for third-party integration

The availability of platforms for monitoring and remote management of recharge assets with these capabilities is the key to ensuring maximum availability and quality of serviceand, in addition, to ensure that the recharging network you can upgrade your capabilities as they evolve services, business models and user requirements.
At GALEO we have had the opportunity to develop charging infrastructure management platforms for some of the most relevant operators in the Spanish market. We have had the opportunity to contribute to the creation of a critical infrastructure to accelerate the adoption of electric mobility in our country, which is still in its early days and will need to exploit the full potential of digital technologies for its maximum development.