Efficient Rapid Charging of Commercial Electric Vehicles

The popularity of electric vehicles continues to grow thanks to the promise of reduced emissions, lower operating costs and an improved long-term outlook.

Battery-powered electric vehicles are seeing increased use in a range of public transport and industry settings.

These applications can benefit from the use of Stäubli’s unique Quick Charge Connector (QCC) technology. QCC helps minimize downtime and maximize efficiency by facilitating the rapid automatic charging of electric vehicles.

Electric vehicles are also able to offer significant reductions in operating costs. The cost of electricity is much less than that of gas for equivalent journeys and vehicles, and because it is an emerging technology, the efficiency of electric vehicles will likely continue to improve.5

Diesel- and gas-powered technology is anticipated to be increasingly phased out in the coming years, reducing its long-term viability as an investment. As the use of global fossil fuels continues to decline in line with dwindling gas and diesel supplies, it is only a matter of time before these non-renewable resources run out.6

This distinct combination of improved environmental credentials, lower operating costs and improved long-term outlook are key drivers in adopting electric vehicles for commercial and consumer use.

Research undertaken by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) has highlighted that annual electric vehicle sales are increasing at a near-exponential rate around the world.7

Revolutionizing Industry

While costs continue to reduce and technology continues to improve, two notable obstacles remain in terms of the commercial uptake of electric vehicles: the distance a vehicle can travel on a single charge and the availability of charging points.8

These factors seem to be hindering the uptake of personal electric vehicles for consumer use, but they do not present a barrier in sectors where vehicles make frequent stops and are only required to travel within small areas or along predefined routes.

These applications include:

  • Depots and dockyards employing electric tractors and forklifts9
  • Mining, agriculture and haulage10,11,12
  • Marine vessels, including tugboats and ferries
  • Regional aircraft such as VTOL
  • Warehouses using Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) to transport goods
  • Public transport networks where vehicles stop regularly and follow predetermined routes
  • Airports employing tow vehicles, shuttle buses and crew transport

The benefits of fleet electrification are beginning to outpace costs across all these sectors. Operating costs and air pollution are drastically reduced, and vehicles can be charged at their planned stops with minimal impact on efficiency.

Efficient Rapid Charging of Electric Vehicles

The charging method used can have a significant impact on the efficiency of industries embracing the potential of electric vehicles.

For example, manually plugging in AGVs can result in substantial time implications in even a modest-sized warehouse, while monitoring charging progress and disconnecting vehicles at the appropriate time adds a further layer of complexity.

Stäubli was prompted to develop its unique automatic Quick Charge Connector (QCC) to help alleviate concerns about electric vehicle charging reliability, efficiency, and safety.

The QCC interfaces between the vehicle and infrastructure or electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE).

It has been designed and developed from the ground up to enable the automatic connection of commercial electric vehicles, facilitating rapid charging with no need for human intervention.

The QCC helps ensure increased uptime, enhanced performance and improved safety.

Efficient Rapid Charging of Electric Vehicles

Image Credit: Stäubli Electrical Connectors

The QCC is comprised of a flexible plug connector mounted to a linear actuator (the plug side) while the socket connector is installed within a funnel to ensure proper compensation for angular and positional misalignment (the socket side).

Automatic charging drastically reduces – potentially even eliminates - the downtime typically associated with charging.

For industrial use cases where vehicles make predetermined stops, automatic charging systems can be placed to allow charging to take place ‘in the background’ rather than requiring manual interventions by personnel.

The Stäubli QCC system has been designed with safety, efficiency and reliability at its core.

Safety is ensured by an array of features, including a limiting micro-switch which only permits the commencement of charging once mating between connectors has been completed.

Stäubli connectors are entirely touch-safe (IP2X) and waterproof (IP55), making them an ideal choice for use in public-facing environments, such as bus stops, and in challenging weather conditions. Connector sequencing minimizes the potential for arcing by ensuring that ground contact is the first to mate and last to break.

The use of Stäubli’s proprietary MULTILAM technology ensures optimum efficiency. Each connector is comprised of many individual spring-loaded contact points, ensuring a large connection surface area and allowing immense current densities. The result of this approach is a single connector that can reliably accommodate more than 1 Megawatt.

Reliability is guaranteed by Stäubli’s rigorous testing protocols. Its connectors have been rated to 100,000 mating cycles – more than 27 years of service, assuming 10+ cycles per day.

Integrated sensor-free misalignment correction and an integrated self-cleaning mechanism ensure that Stäubli QCCs offer low-maintenance, dependable operation over a prolonged service life.

With customers including some of the most widely recognized self-driving container transport projects (the Port of Singapore and the Port of Hamburg), Stäubli QCC remains the market leader in port operations.

The QCC has been in operation since 2009 with zero incidents, and over 200 units have been sold as of 2021.

Organizations contemplating the transition to an electric fleet or considering making efficiency improvements to existing electric vehicle operations can leverage the potential of Stäubli’s Quick Charge Connectors to ensure a robust, low-maintenance solution to their charging needs.

References

  1. European Environment Agency. Electric vehicles and the energy sector: impacts on Europe’s future emissions. (Publications Office, 2016).
  2. Nuclear Power in France | French Nuclear Energy - World Nuclear Association.
  3. Norway leads way on electric cars: ‘it’s part of a green taxation shift’ | Environment | The Guardian.
  4. How green are electric cars? | Environment | The Guardian.
  5. Running Costs of EVs: How much it costs to buy and run an electric car | OVO Energy. https://www.ovoenergy.com/guides/energy-guides/how-much-does-it-cost-to-charge-and-run-an-electric-car.html, https://www.ovoenergy.com/guides/energy-guides/how-much-does-it-cost-to-charge-and-run-an-electric-car.html.
  6. How long before we run out of fossil fuels? Our World in Data https://ourworldindata.org/how-long-before-we-run-out-of-fossil-fuels.
  7. Lutsey, N. & Nicholas, M. Update on electric vehicle costs in the United States through 2030. (2019).
  8. The real barriers to electric vehicle adoption.
  9. Stäubli teams up for automated charging of electrical vehicles in port logistics.
  10. John Deere: ‘We believe in electric tractors. 100%’ - FutureFarming. https://www.futurefarming.com/Machinery/Articles/2020/3/John-Deere-We-believe-in-electric-tractors-100-552869E/.
  11. Electric Vehicles and Robotics in Mining 2020-2030. (2020).
  12. Silverstein, K. The Trucking Industry Is Embracing Change And Moving To Electric Vehicles. Forbes https://www.forbes.com/sites/kensilverstein/2020/06/04/the-trucking-industry-is-embracing-change-and-moving-to-electric-vehicles/.
  13. The MULTILAM Principle by Stäubli Electrical Connectors AG.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Stäubli Electrical Connectors.

For more information on this source, please visit Stäubli Electrical Connectors.

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