The wave of energy transition has also affected the transportation segment, especially the small-to-large world of public transportation. Fleet electrification is increasingly a reality and, in this new context, Enel X is carving out a leading role, being committed to drive the energy transition in public transport acting as the ideal and reliable one-stop-shop partner to accompany PAs and operators on the path to electrification.
Owing to the complexity of fleet electrification, Enel X is on a mission to simplify the transition managing every stage of the process, from the preliminary stages of consulting, design and financing, to the supply and management of vehicles and infrastructure, and the provision of green energy and IT (aka Intelligent Transportation) software solutions for monitoring and managing the operations (Enel X’s modular “e-Bus as-a-service” solution).
The inherent complexity of this process even reflects in the need to manage operations in the smartest way maximizing the benefits of the transition itself, thus reducing energy consumption, minimizing operating costs and optimizing service efficiency.
The role of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)
The process of charging a BEB (Battery Electric Bus) is very different from the classic ICE bus refuelling process. A fleet of electric vehicles requires the introduction of new items into the system (i.e., the charging infrastructure), the renewal and adaptation of existing processes and the implementation of new business processes, as well as more technical parameters and variables to be considered (like battery capacity and health, energy costs, charging rate, road topology and road conditions, and more).
Hence, the planning and management of daily operations require a large amount of data as well as the ability to leverage this data for strategic scheduling of charging sessions and for strategic decision making. In this regard, the role of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) is critical to collect and process that data in order to implement optimal energy and charging management strategies.
Beyond green energy: Enel X’s software solutions for electric fleets
Enel X has developed a dedicated system of software solutions to manage and optimize electric fleets’ operations. This system is designed not just to support and secure the management of the vehicles during charging, but also to guarantee and assist the performance of each vehicle throughout its daily service block by enabling real-time supervision and intervening measures.
The available solutions revolve around 2 main pillars:
- Charging infrastructure management, involves functionalities which allow for real-time remote monitoring of vehicles, drivers, charging stations and charging sessions within one or more depots. This solution enables operators to manage multiple charging stations and charge multiple vehicles simultaneously, while supervising energy consumption. Moreover, integrating the scheduled vehicle blocks and the desired level of SoC (State of Charge), operators can schedule charging sessions calibrated according to the actual charging needs of each vehicle, avoiding waste of energy.
- Smart charging services, an ecosystem of algorithms designed to optimize operations and queue management, generating operational efficiency and savings in electricity costs. This modular solution includes:
- Load optimization algorithms enabling efficient management of site’s energy demand by balancing load among charging stations, without exceeding a specific power limit.
- Charge prioritization algorithms which allow to distribute energy among charging stations setting charging sessions’ queue according to specific priority logics; for instance, it allows vehicles to be charged based on their scheduled departure time or based on their time of arrival (i.e., FIFO logic).
- Tariff optimization algorithm allows to schedule charging sessions taking in consideration vehicles’ charging needs and electricity rates together, so as to ensure savings on the electricity bill.
Moreover, Enel X’s digital offering is set up to integrate additional core functionalities provided by leading market experts, such as the Fleet Scheduling Suite to automatically share the scheduled vehicle blocks; the Fleet Management System (FMS) for real-time monitoring of the entire electric fleet; and the Battery Diagnostics System to continuously evaluate the real field data of on-board batteries.
All main data and information collected from the assets (i.e., chargers, vehicles, on-board batteries) and related functionalities are made available through an integrated web-based dashboard, a user-friendly interface designed to supervise all parameters and all assets in a simple way.
The importance of a Battery Diagnostics System
As previously observed,the operations of electric buses necessarily involve consideration of new critical components, above all the battery system which is the most valuable and most expensive component of an electric bus, accounting for more than one third of its acquisition costs. This makes it essential for operators and managers of electric fleets to equip themselves with tools to monitor the life cycle of batteries, to regularly check their state of health, stress level and anomalies, as well as to assess the residual value of batteries and predict their end of life, in order to optimize their use and possibly extend their life cycle.
Considering the value of this component, Enel X integrates a dedicated Battery Diagnostics System (BDS) for real-time monitoring of on-board batteries, like the successful implementation in the first project in Mexico. Through a strategic collaboration with the esteemed German company volytica diagnostics GmbH, the platform gains enhanced functionalities tailored to operate fleets in a secure and optimized manner. The collaboration aims to proactively prevent any abnormal behaviour of the batteries, promote transparency regarding the asset status and providing insights on preservation and performance enhancement. Through the implementation of condition monitoring, the public transport operator (PTO) gains the ability to proactively execute predictive maintenance, thus effectively avoiding unplanned downtime.
The decision for volytica’s analytics was mainly driven by their prolonged experiences as well as the seamless data integration of battery KPI’s to Enel X’s dashboard and the included advanced functionalities as a system of notifications and alerting.
Determining the remaining lifetime through volytica’s battery diagnostics system is not only crucial for assessing the residual value of the system but also plays a significant role in fostering sustainability for the overall project. This evaluation extends beyond current applications, exploring possibilities for second-life concepts. For example, repurposing batteries for energy storage in renewable energy projects or integrating them into electric grid stabilization systems exemplifies the multifaceted sustainability impact of this innovative approach.
Enel X’s collaboration with volytica: the case of Mexico City
In Mexico City, the city’s transport authority Metrobús chose Enel X to start its journey to electrify its bus fleet. In February 2023, 51 new buses were introduced in the Line 3, making it the largest electric fleet of articulated buses in Latin America. Enel X provided the electrical and charging infrastructure for the fleet, installing 26 charging stations, besides the provision of the advanced charging management solutions and smart charging services to monitor charging sessions and optimize the efficiency of fleet’s operation. A hallmark of the project was the integration of an innovative Battery Diagnostics System provided by volytica, pioneer in advanced battery analytics.
As a leading software provider, volytica reveals transparent battery health through the in-depth analysis of field data. The public transport operator in Mexico City is set to significantly benefit from the advanced real-time anomaly detection system integrated into the offering, that will play a crucial role in enhancing fleet operations and preventing accidents related to battery conditions. The project marks a successful combination of Enel X’s pledge for fleet electrification and volytica’s commitment to ensuring the safety and efficiency of public transportation.