While the CEO of a certain electric car maker may be monopolizing the EV limelight in recent months, the industry continues to rapidly evolve and morph in a variety of ways. That makes making any kind of prediction a risky proposition. But from our perspective – as a company that’s been helping leading infrastructure companies automate and optimize their field service operations and improve how they build and maintain complex systems – a few trends seem pretty clear:
Growth Amid Consolidation
Many EV industry watchers expect consolidation in the market for charging networks. But that doesn’t mean that demand shows any sign of slowing down. In the US, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will provide $7.5 billion to develop the country’s EV-charging infrastructure with an additional half a million charging stations, although that will cover only a fraction of expected growth in demand for public and private chargers. California alone has committed $3 billion to building an additional 90,000 stations over the next 2 years.
Customers will want more charging options, faster charging, and more locations. And while they crave greater flexibility, they expect a uniform – and uniformly excellent – experience for the charging process.
And that translates into more complex – and rapidly changing – business requirements for the field service management solutions that companies will rely on to build, maintain, and monitor their EV charging networks.
In such a dynamically changing environment, keeping a close eye on real-time fluctuations in your capacity becomes a competitive advantage. Capacity management needs to be granular enough to account for the different needs of charging stations and networks based on different technologies. Capacity planning and forecasting are emerging as essential tools for a high-performance field service operation that can keep pace with rapid growth, changes in supply and demand, and unexpected curveballs that require the ability to respond in real time.
Customer Satisfaction Emerges as Key Differentiator
A few years ago, customers may have viewed EVs as some kind of futuristic technology from the far-off worlds of Star Trek or The Jetsons. Today, they’ve become commonplace, and customers expect them to work as simply and as reliably as flipping on a light switch and expecting electricity to light the room.
Sadly, the industry isn’t quite there yet when it comes to reliability, ubiquity, or simplicity. Consumers increasingly expect EV charging to be as readily available as any commodity provided by more established utilities and their distribution channels (such as the electricity flowing into homes and businesses, or the gas stations on every corner). But today, about 20% of customers report bumping up against an “out of order” sign or some other glitch when they need to recharge their vehicle.
By leveraging field service tools like preventive and corrective maintenance, EV charging operators can greatly reduce these incidents. That doesn’t just improve their revenue and decrease their operating expenses, but it also creates happier customers which is essential for driving repeat business and building brand loyalty. Asset management can also play a significant role in bolstering your ability to maintain high uptime levels that will drive customer satisfaction.
Labor Shortages Drive Need for New Approaches
Like many sectors of the economy, both the EV industry and the field service industry continue to suffer from ongoing labor shortages, a situation unlikely to change in the near future. Couple that with the fast-growth dynamics of the EV market and ever-rising customer expectations and you’ve got a recipe for trouble.
Fortunately, robust field service management solutions provide several mechanisms to mitigate these challenges. For example, tools for remote collaboration make it possible for more experienced field engineers to leverage their knowledge and experience across a larger pool of more junior technicians who could use a helping hand. Products such as Zinier’s Dynamic Audits accelerate and streamline the process of providing feedback on work tasks, while the platform’s no-code development environment makes it easy to update workflows based on insights or ideas about how to best manage those tasks.
The right field service solution can also help by making it easy to meld an increasingly complex workforce, that may include an ever-changing mix of full-time employees, contractors, and third-party organizations. Such hybrid workforces often expect to use their own mobile devices that they’re familiar with. So to achieve high adoption rates for any field service application, it’s critical that they’re easy to ramp up on and designed for a mobile experience.
Tackling Turbulence with Enhanced Visibility
While many aspects of the global supply chain infrastructure are no longer in crisis mode, there are still many disruptions that have a major impact on the EV industry, such as:
- Transportation logistics (whether related to COVID ramifications, energy price increases and shortages, geopolitical instability, and so forth)
- An ongoing global chip shortage
- The typical fluctuations that go hand-in-hand with any major new innovation in technology
As a result, there are often delays of a year or more in obtaining critical parts which, in turn, introduce delays in building and repairing charging stations and the essential systems that keep them running. Tools for improving the way you manage inventory can drive substantial improvement in the performance of your field service operations.
By improving the overall visibility of your field service operation – where team members are at any given moment, the availability and locations of specific equipment and parts, external factors such as weather and traffic that can affect scheduling, and so forth – field operations can optimize their performance and mitigate these challenges.
One of the reasons many people like lists of predictions like this one is that it gives you a heads up about problems you might be able to nip in the bud or opportunities you can take advantage of ASAP. And that’s the idea behind predictive maintenance.
By applying sophisticated machine learning models and AI-driven algorithms to data about charging system performance, field service solutions can provide recommendations about actions you can take to head off likely issues in the near future. For example, you may want to replace a part before it fails because it will be less expensive in the long run to do so.
Do you have any predictions about emerging EV charging trends in 2023? We’d love to hear them – get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to find out more about how the Zinier platform can help you optimize and automate your EV charging field service operations, you can schedule a demo at your convenience.