Electric delivery truck manufacturer Chanje recently announced a partnership with eMotorWerks on Charging-as-a-Service that included mention of a new customer dashboard for fleet managers. To better understand the solution, we reached out to Chanje to learn more about the solution and what it means for fleet managers, especially in light of the impact of a transition to electric trucks at the same time.
I spoke with Chanje’s Austin Hausmann, VP of R&D and Product Development, and Ian Televik, Director of Marketing, about the new solution and Chanje’s vision for the dashboard of the future for fleet managers. Austin shared that Chanje has developed a customer dashboard that helps fleet operators manage their daily energy requirements by aggregating data from vehicle telematics and from the EV charging platform.
Austin shared that electric vehicles are fundamentally superior when it comes to telematics, as monitoring is already integrated into all of the components. Customers don’t have to buy a new flow meter or photo eye and pay someone to mount it in the engine or on the vehicle, but rather, the motors, battery management systems, and the like already send all of that data to the CANBUS (Controller Area Network bus). Austin shared that with government mandates pushing fleet managers towards telematics, it has almost become a commodity at this point. Product differentiation comes in when that data hits the servers, and that’s where Chanje’s in-house developed solution shines.
Putting Big Data To Work
That drastically cuts the cost of generating telematics data onboard and, instead of picking and choosing the 5 or 6 critical variables, enables customers to optimize the data extracted by the telematics system, selecting the 100 top variables at the desired frequency and compiling the data into beautifully customized dashboards.
I know what you’re thinking: that sounds magical, but what does that really mean to a fleet manager in Kansas City who is managing a fleet of 122 local delivery trucks or a similar real-world scenario? Being able to see how much electricity the drivers of each of those 122 trucks uses in comparison to each other allows for unprecedented visibility into the cost per mile of operations across routes, drivers, and vehicles.
Looking at maintenance, being able to see motor rotational speeds and the energy required to turn them both offer insight into the health of the motor. Increased draw for the same output is a failure indicator, making telematics an invaluable tool for predictive maintenance systems.
Seeing where vehicles are in real-time allows fleet managers to more precisely manage fleet responsiveness and performance over time compared to the company’s standard operating procedures. Giving fleet managers the data they need to implement a data-based approach to standard delivery times allows for more precise delivery time estimates that can be given to customers.
The vehicle checking in as it’s driving around throughout the day allows fleet managers to know exactly what range will be left at the end of the day and, based on the schedule for the next day, how much charging time the vehicle will need at night to be ready to execute the next day’s schedule. Factoring that into eMotorWerks’ intelligent demand response functionality and Chanje’s system can save fleets some serious cash on electricity.
Different Problem? There’s A Dashboard For That!
Perhaps most importantly, having access to vast amounts of data feeds from the onboard telematics system allows Chanje to customize the Customer Dashboard for each customer based on their needs. One vendor may be all about ensuring drivers aren’t using more power than needed and so prioritizes usage per mile and cost per mile for deliveries.
Another customer may want to have everything focused on on-time deliveries and so puts routes and delivery time vs estimate front and center. The Chanje Customer Dashboard has the ability to flex and adapt to each customer and allows Chanje to ask open-ended questions to customers, like, “if you had access to this level of data, what would you do to improve your bottom line?”
Beyond the sexy data visualizations and blue sky cost savings potential offered by telematics, the Chanje Customer Dashboard also offers more mundane electronic data logging features required by new regulations — hours of operation, miles traveled, and the like.
All of the data from the vehicle flows to the cloud, where it is fed into the Customer Dashboard. At this point, vehicle telematics data is married together with data from the Chanje electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE) — also known as the electric vehicle charging station — courtesy of Chanje’s recent partnership with eMotorWerks on a new Charging-as-a-Service offering.
The integration of real charging data allows Chanje to present a comprehensive cost of ownership perspective to fleet managers, including actual charging (fueling) data, actual cost to drive the vehicle (fuel consumption), and predictive maintenance, including wear and tear estimates … all on a real-time, per-mile basis. That’s unprecedented and something that can only be done cost effectively with the digital systems that come with electric vehicles — in this case, Chanje’s electric vehicles.
I asked Austin where he sees the Chanje Customer Dashboard going in the future and he shared that, as the guy who oversees R&D and Product Development, he’s not at liberty to speak about most of what’s coming up, but that over-the-air updates were a near-term deliverable that they are working towards. With so much data already flowing to the cloud, it isn’t a matter of connectivity, but of security.
“Before we turn that switch, we want to be sure that the process is 100% bulletproof.”
That’s a position I can respect. As so many of our mission critical systems move to the connected cloud, it’s that much easier for remote attackers to put the systems at risk.
Ryder has requested 125 connected Chanje vehicles that will help Chanje to firm up the Customer Dashboard as a product offering, but it currently has a number of Customer Dashboard frameworks for customers to choose from that are very much ready for production. Chanje is also in talks with several other customers looking at vehicle deliveries in 2018 that, if they sign on, will work with Chanje to build a Customer Dashboard to their specs as well.
An Autonomous Future?
With so many automotive and technology companies working to develop semi-autonomous and fully autonomous driving solutions, I prodded Austin what Chanje’s tact was on the market. In the near-term, Chanje is working to build solutions to support the professional drivers that will drive its vehicles with assistance technologies.
“Our focus is on making that driver as safe as possible.”
This is right in line with Tesla’s approach to Autopilot. Active safety features come first, and then various levels of autonomous driving solutions come down the pipe as they are vetted. Chanje is pursuing the same path, with its large team of in-house software developers and electric vehicles being such a natural fit with autonomous driving tech.
“There’s certainly a use case to be had for fully autonomous vehicles,” Austin noted.
They are looking at how the tech can be most seamlessly integrated over the long term, while delivering tech to production in the near-term that gives drivers the safest vehicle available.
Disrupting The Last Mile
Austin shared that Chanje isn’t just an electric vehicle company or a software company but that it is really a company that is laser focused on disrupting the last mile of goods moving around the world. Larger vehicles — like Tesla’s Semi Trucks — get goods from distribution center to distribution center or hub to hub, and Chanje’s solutions will get the goods from there to the customer.
“For us, we are looking to intelligently solve that last mile of transportation,” Austin shared. “It might not just be replacing [petrol] trucks one for one.”
That’s a refreshing perspective to hear from a company poised at the brink of an existing market that’s bursting at the seams with opportunities for disruption. This includes solutions as obvious as more vehicle form factors all the way up and down the chain of solutions to that last mile of delivery.
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