30 Mar 21

Amazon and ABB to create fleet management solution for EVs

Two giants of the technology world, ABB and Amazon Web Services, have joined forces to build real-time fleet management solutions for fleets transitioning to electric vehicles.

The collaboration will create a cloud-based solution for the management of charging infrastructure and charge scheduling to improve fleet efficiency and optimise EV uptime.

Software not hardware solution

Zurich-based ABB has the largest installed base of charging equipment in the world, but has set up this new fleet-focused venture in Berlin, and tasked it with being a purely software, not hardware company.

Frank Muehlon, president of ABB’s eMobility Division, said: “We want to be hardware agnostic, but we know a lot about how charging works, where the difficulties lie and how you optimise charging processes. If you bring the hardware and software together from a knowledge base, you can create a solution which is charge point agnostic, vehicle agnostic and fleet agnostic, so you can really use it as software for the whole industry. This should be a smart solution to make the transition from combustion engines to electric vehicles easier.”

Data harvesting

Aiming for a plug-and-go solution, ABB does not intend to install telematics devices in vehicles, but instead to retrieve data from wherever it is available, including third-party telematics systems, embedded OEM connectivity technology and charge points.

“We will look at all sorts of data acquisition. The important fact is that data is available for fleet management. We plan to use existing data from various sources to make solutions easier and faster to implement,” said Muehlon. “A lot of delivery fleet operators, for example, are not one company but businesses that employ thousands of third parties, so there are no neat solutions anywhere. We need to see what is available and what we can work with. Our solution is going to be interoperable and will be compliant and compatible with multiple sources.”

Depot-based EV charging

As depot-based fleets transition to electric vehicles, their need will intensify for smart charging solutions that avoid the need for enormously expensive grid upgrades and allow them to exploit cheaper and greener electricity supply.

Markus Kröger, chief executive officer, ABB eMobility Digital Venture, said: “If you have a site with a limited power supply and you have a limited number of chargers, exceeded by the number of vehicles that need charging, the target is to ensure business continuity. You need to make sure the vehicles leave the compound with the right state of charge to make it through their day, but at the same time be efficient when it comes to peak saving and load management. You need software to regulate and organise that.”

ABB says current third-party EV charging management software offers only limited functionality, lacking the ability to customise based on a fleet’s range of EV models and the breadth of charging infrastructure it uses.

ABB and Amazon

The collaboration with AWS, said Muehlon will integrate: “EV hardware and software into one ecosystem to provide a seamless user experience. We are confident that by working together we can propel the use of electric fleet vehicles by giving operators the confidence to make the switch.”

Alongside charging infrastructure management and charge scheduling, the new venture with AWS will use machine learning and analytics to develop features such as real-time vehicle monitoring and EV route optimisation, based on time of day, weather and use patterns. It will also provide fleet managers with insight and actions for vehicle health and servicing.

Muehlon would not be drawn on how Amazon’s own fleet might use the services of the new partnership with ABB, saying only that: “At this time, we’re not able to share any details on customers or partners. For now, we’re excited to announce this project and bring transformation to the EV fleet via our work with AWS.”

Jon Allen, director, professional services, automotive at AWS, said: “As industries forge ahead with electrification of their vehicle fleets, customers need reliable and intuitive services to help them adapt to the new operating model and optimise how they utilise their fleets. This collaboration between AWS and ABB will combine our companies’ deep expertise in the automotive, logistics and electrification spaces with leadership in the cloud to deliver a hardware-agnostic, intelligent electric fleet management solution. Together, ABB and AWS will bring the insights, agility and scale the cloud provides to the electric vehicle industry and help our customers successfully transition to a lower-emission future.”

Image: ABB

Authored by: Jonathan Manning