Added insight: Empowering fleet managers with electric vehicle battery data – 23/12/2020
The switch to electric vehicles represents a huge opportunity for fleet operators. But it can also be a step into the unknown. Silver Power Systems has set about capturing the data that fleet managers need to optimise their vehicle utilisation, allowing them to make better informed decisions on maintenance, charging and resale.
The company’s EV-Ops package grew out of what was originally envisaged as an engineering tool, designed to use CAN bus data to monitor electrified powertrains. This led to a successful application to the APC’s Technology Developer Accelerator Programme (TDAP) to investigate potential applications, during which time the focus began to shift towards the fleet market.
“The ‘fresh eyes’ event at the start of the TDAP programme gave us a much more detailed view of the automotive market, and which sub-sectors were likely to be of interest,” explains Liam Mifsud, Programme Manager for Silver Power Systems. “The feedback was that the concept was sound but we needed to think about how it would be used. In terms of potential applications, the most promising one we came across was fleet management – in particular, monitoring batteries in electric vehicles.”
The TDAP programme provided access to £100,000 of grant funding for early stage prototyping and market testing. It also gave the company insight from experts in the automotive field and introductions to several potential customers.
“We were a company with a long history in Li-Ion energy systems for telecoms, but very few contacts in the automotive industry,” comments Mifsud. “TDAP provided us with a number of introductions that we wouldn’t have had otherwise and put us in touch with experts who were able to fill some significant gaps in our understanding of the value of ourtechnology. It was a new area for us when we began the project, but we now feel that we can speak with a degree of credibility within the automotive sector.”
The EV-Ops platform is comprised of a small hardware unit mounted inside the vehicle that communicates to a cloud-based application. Users can log into this system to view a range of historical and real-time reporting aspects that aren’t normally available via the diagnostics port.
“We now have our system installed on a well-known taxi company’s vehicles, among others,” comments Mifsud. “We’ve gone from a specialist engineering tool to a market focussed platform that allows users to integrate EV assets and data. That’s very much down to the input and support from TDAP.”
Silver Power Systems now has trials underway with several vehicle manufacturers, and the company is working with Imperial College London to develop a battery digital twin to enable the prediction of age degradation and future performance of each vehicle battery. Since the start of TDAP, it has also taken on two new members of staff in cloud infrastructure and data science roles.
“The work we’ve done recently has really taken our skill set beyond batteries and data collection into big data and AI analytics,” comments Mifsud. “It’s a hugely exciting future for us.”