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Techsplained: RPA (Robotic Process Automation)

Until very recently, parking and electric vehicle (EV) charging were considered separate services, with little need to connect the two. After all, EVs have statistically comprised only a small part of the private parking user base. Until now, many car park owners have considered EV charging an optional, niche service, relevant only to a small selection of users.

But this is changing. The number of electric vehicles will only increase drastically in the future, and car park owners who aren’t prepared will be forced to adapt their parking infrastructure to meet the new demands of their users.

Increasing number of electric vehicles

The European Union is speeding up the switch to zero-emission electric vehicles as part of a broad package of measures to combat climate change1 . Some of them include:

  • subsidies of up to €8,000 on the purchase or lease of any EV
  • annual registration tax exemption for EV buyers for the first five years
  • a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars, coming into effect by 2035

This has incentivized many private users and companies to start their transition towards electrified fleets. It is estimated that in Europe alone, plug-in car sales exceeded €2.27 million last year2 . This trend is expected to continue, with the next couple of years seeing exponential growth in the EV market. In other words: the future of transportation is electric.

The accelerated transition towards electrification is putting new pressure on private building and car park owners and operators, who can no longer treat EV charging as an optional facility, but as an essential. The availability of EV charging services is already a deal breaker for many people looking to buy or lease space. Parking has become EV charging, and vice versa.

Smart Parking and EV charging

Implementing EV charging: Common mistakes & challenges

Any car park owner thinking of implementing EV charging would be wise to learn from the mistakes of others – and one of the biggest is when an owner installs a new EV charging system, but fails to link it to the parking system. Some of the issues this creates include:

Suboptimal use of EV spots

Many car park owners think that the demand for charging can simply be solved by installing as many charging points as possible. But this is not the case. Beyond the significant CAPEX cost, generating the volume of energy needed for multiple EV cars to charge all at once would also require a small thermonuclear facility next to the parking location!

Instead, owners need to optimize use of the available EV spots by having the EV system communicate and work in tandem with the parking system, in order to permit user reservations, restrict access and incentivize users to move their vehicles when they are fully charged so others can use the space.

This helps to solve the common problem of a user arriving in the morning, connecting their EV and then leaving the vehicle parked there for the rest of the business day. With most vehicles normally obtaining a full charge in around three or four hours at a speed of 22Kw/H, the fully-charged vehicle then becomes an obstacle, blocking others from using the charging point. The EV spot that has been installed for the convenience and use of all tenants is now being used just once or twice a day, while many potential users are forced to look elsewhere to charge.

Multiple identification methods

Even though ANPR (Automated Number Plate Recognition) has made access to parking simpler, parking systems still require an back-up, such as RFID badges, QR codes or an app. Meanwhile EV chargers commonly work with a proprietary RFID card or app to manage their EV sessions. The result is that users are obliged to carry multiple badges, access multiple QR codes or download multiple apps to be able to use both services.

This creates more potential for lost or forgotten cards, and more problems for the owner or operator, who must devote more money, time and staff to providing replacements, buying new cards, printing QR labels, etc.

Separate payments for parking and charging

To pay for EV charging, a preauthorized payment is usually required, either via a card terminal embedded in the charging point, through a proprietary EV app or through a website. Once the charge is complete the payment is deducted from the preauthorized amount and the remaining is reimbursed. Tediously, the user is obliged to repeat the process in order to park – paying for their parking session at a separate kiosk.

An alternative is using RFID cards provided by an MSP (Mobility Service Provider). If the local EV system is connected to the e-roaming network, the car can start charging immediately, and the user will then receive a monthly invoice from the MSP. The problem with the MSP as the middleman is that they take a cut, making the service more expensive for users and diverting part of the owner/operator’s profits.

From the perspective of the end user, the MSP system is not without its inconveniences either. After all, customers still have to go through the same payment process to a later stage, manually paying their charging bill at the end of the month with a bank transfer. These types of payments are easily forgotten, incurring additional costs for the user. And the MSP system still doesn’t solve the problem of having to pay for the parking onsite, separately.

Additional administrative work

Multiple systems means multiple amounts of work. This includes:

  • operators having to create, process and print separate invoices for tenants and users on each system
  • operators needing to create multiple accounts and conduct multiple training sessions for each administrator
  • increased difficulty and time lost in pinpointing the location of a problem across multiple platforms
  • the need for different portals for different systems if hardware needs to be controlled remotely
These problems, and many others besides, make management more cumbersome and complex than it should be. And they are only compounded when you have multiple buildings and parking locations to manage, incurring many more hours of work and introducing further inefficiencies that could be easily avoided by having everything centralized in one place.

Incomplete data analytics and limited insights

Segregated systems make it difficult, if not impossible, to generate and visualize comparative data analytics and insights from the joint parking and EV operations. Having the information segmented in multiple systems makes it difficult for operators to easily find correlations between important KPIs such as parking occupancy, driver profiles, EV charging consumption and charging speeds. Valuable insights are lost in the gap. Dispersed and incomplete data input means missed opportunities.


Integrate EV charging into your smart parking management platform

The answer to all these issues lies in having one integrated end-to-end solution that merges all the capabilities of an advanced smart parking system with the amenities of an EV charging platform. An integrated solution truly improves occupancy, optimizes charging usage and enhances user experience for both parking and EV charging.

Capacity – smart parking and EV platform capabilities

Thanks to Capacity these problems are a thing of the past. We’ve simplified life for car park administrators and eliminated unnecessary hassle from daily operations, which means our clients can provide operational excellence and users can enjoy an optimal experience when parking or charging their vehicle. Let us show you how.

Centralize the management of your parking and EV operations.
Integrate customer payments for smart services.
Simplify your overall user experience into one touchpoint.
Make the most of your EV spots and scale up as you recover your ROI.

Learn more about Capacity by watching our on-demand webinar or visiting the Capacity webpage. You can also contact us to organize a personalized demo session to find out how we can help you to transform your parking facility into the Smart Hub of the future.

Smart Parking Management - Watch Webinar