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Maintaining a high availability nationwide EV charger network

Kenny Scouller, Yunex Traffic’s Head of Sales for EVCI in the UK delves into the crucial components of maintaining a robust and accessible nationwide EV charger network.

I have read a lot recently about a projected shortfall in the number of qualified technicians that will be able to service and maintain the UK’s electric vehicle (EV) fleet. By 2035, which is when the ban on the sale of new petrol- and diesel-powered cars comes into force, some forecasts suggest that if current training trends continue, there will be a shortfall of some 30,000 qualified technicians.

That’s a significant concern for vehicle retailers and maintainers and for EV owners and drivers, who will understandably expect the same standards of service to maintain and repair their vehicles.

But it’s also only one side of the coin.

Whilst it’s clearly important that vehicles are serviced and repaired promptly and professionally, we also need to ensure that the electric vehicle charging infrastructure (EVCI) network operates efficiently and effectively.

This is particularly important given the twin issues of ‘range anxiety’ and ‘infrastructure availability anxiety’ which remain the two most quoted barriers preventing drivers switching from fossil fuel to electric power. Addressing these issues is critical in building and retaining driver confidence and in the operation of an operational charger network which is fit for purpose.

A great deal of work has already been done in expanding the rapid and ultra-rapid charging infrastructure network, particularly on the motorway and strategic road network, and in the commissioning of dedicated EV charge point hubs. And as a sector, we need to relentlessly drive this programme further and wider over the next decade.

However, it is equally important to make sure that the infrastructure is reliable and available when needed. This is especially relevant given the UK Government’s Public Charge Point Regulations, which mandate that within a year of the regulations coming into force, all public charge points must achieve at least a 99% average reliability record. And should charge point operators (CPOs) fail to meet these targets, they could face substantial fines, or even be prohibited from installing more public charge points until they take remedial action.

To meet their needs and to reach the availability target, we must make sure that the right number of people with the right skills are in the right place to provide installation and maintenance services, both now to establish confidence in the network, and into the future to sustain that confidence.

To help address this, Yunex Traffic is able to draw on more than 12 years’ experience in the EVCI sector, as well as the experience and expertise that exists across the rest of our business – which ranges from manufacturing to the installation, maintenance and operation of sophisticated and transport critical roadside infrastructure.

Our workforce is very well trained and experienced in the installation and maintenance of this complex roadside equipment, sometimes in hostile conditions, and we have built on these solid foundations to add EVCI capabilities to the service engineers’ skill sets, helping to shape and refine our service solutions to meet the needs of our EVCI customers.

We continually upskill our talented team of engineers to broaden their capabilities across our entire product portfolio, including an ever-expanding range of original equipment manufacturers’ EV chargers, such as Tritium, Kempower, StarCharge and Alfen. These teams work closely with OEMs, CPOs and local authorities to service and maintain their charge point networks.

Based at 17 regional centres around the UK, the service teams benefit from our own, in-house training school, which is staffed full time, Yunex Traffic qualified lecturers who design and deliver EV charger training, ensuring that we continue to provide the flexibility to expand our service provision in line with market growth. To ensure our engineers are fully competent in EV servicing, they are assessed as part of our training programme, and only those who pass the assessment are then able to work on our customers’ EV charging infrastructure estate.

This training facility is also for customers, and we offer a range of tailored training sessions to CPOs and local authorities to meet their individual requirements – with courses ranging from basic EVCI maintenance and fault resolution processes to risk assessments, safe isolation and error code identification.

We also continue to invest heavily in our wider support services, with the field-based teams backed by our in-house Service Operations Centre. Staffed around the clock by an experienced team, the centre provides a range of services to customers, including incident management and remote monitoring, which ensures that any issues are quickly identified and resolved either remotely, or via dispatch of an engineer on site. Customers also have access to an online portal, where they can raise and track faults, view service reports and monitor the overall status of their charging network.

Drawing on the experience and resources from our company-wide team, a network of skilled service engineers and a proven product and service portfolio, we aim to help CPOs, OEMs and local authorities to optimise the availability of their charging networks and to deliver high levels of services to EV drivers nationwide.