Siemens Depot360 aims to simplify fleet electrification

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Updated Jul 2, 2024
Siemens Depot360 charging delivery vans
With Depot360, Siemens helps customers maximize a wide range of US funding programs for sustainable transport.

Last month at the 2024 ACT Expo, Siemens unveiled what it calls Depot360, which is part of the Siemens Xcelerator open digital business platform. This Managed Service offering is designed to combine energy, infrastructure development, and various vehicle management solutions to remove complexities associated with fleet electrification and, equally important, lower costs for EV fleets. 

Additional goals include reducing per-kWh energy and load requirements, supporting energy saving programs, and helping reduce charger downtime while still managing to increase operational efficiency and utilization for EV fleets regardless of size.

Some additional service competitors include WattEV, Voltera, and Zeem Solutions.

[Related: Zeem Solutions building America’s largest commercial charging depot]

Reducing risk & expenses

Speaking to Clean Trucking, Siemens Smart Infrastructure’s Global Head of Emerging Transportation Platforms, Alan White, reiterated that in the transition to fleet electrification the company aims "to reduce the risk of that transition and reduce overall costs. And then we reduce the overall energy spending by about 25 or 30%. We have several ways to do that because I think one of the things least understood is that most of these depots or terminals are not very energy dense today. It's not like a hospital or even a workplace."

White aims to address those in the trucking industry who have understandable reservations regarding the high costs of converting fleets to alternative powertrains, such as battery-electric.  

"We're applying new technologies to innovative business models, enabling the shift to electric vehicles. Depot360 is a way for us to help trucking operations     manage the transition from traditional diesel trucks to electric trucks. It takes quite a bit," White explained.

“First you have the infrastructure, and you have to deploy it correctly in designing and planning. In the past, the thinking was that you simply need charging stations, but when it comes to electric fleets that’s just not possible. For example, what if an EV charger stops working? A fleet operator can’t wait two weeks for a charger to be fixed. So, our solution is to provide a managed service based on the AI technology platform and the network operations center (NOC) that identifies potential problems in the fleet before they occur.”

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Simplifying fleet electrification will help support the industry's transformation in a variety of US market transport segments, such as public transport, student transportation, and rail yard operations.

However, these segments operate on relatively short distances. Running long-haul operations is a different matter. Depot360, for now, is more focused on short-hauling. 

The company is also using its proprietary AI platform to improve services. This works by enhancing operations on critical issues like vehicle telematics integration, reducing energy costs through data-driven decision-making, and real-time energy price signals.

"You need to increase your power capacity. But once you do that, you're going to see the power capacity is there but it's still a lot of load. If you have 10 trucks and each truck is 400-kilowatt hours, you're charging 50% of the time and that's 2 megawatt hours a day of load."

For reference, 1 megawatt is the equivalent of 1,000 kilowatt-hours.

Start-up mentality

You'd be correct in thinking that Depot360 is operating with a start-up business mentality. 

Siemens, the 176-year old German-owned multinational technology conglomerate, has many operating traditions. But adaptability is required in order for Depot360 to be successful in the 21st century zero-emissions transportation industry.

“I work for the [Siemens] CTO office. We create brand new technology and apply that to different business models,” said the San Francisco Bay Area-based executive, who joined Siemens in 2021. He holds an MS in Operations from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

The transition towards zero-emissions freight transportation requires years of effort and trial and error that will then be applied intelligentially via AI. It's a complete re-think of the existing system.

[Related: Construction begins on America's largest renewable energy-powered transit depot]

When things don’t work, it must be acknowledged quickly, studied, corrected, implemented, and then you move on to the next challenge. A corporation like Siemens recognizes that.

“It’s an exciting time to be driving innovation in such a new industry,” said White.     

Jay Traugott has covered the automotive and transportation sector for over a decade and now serves as Senior Editor for Clean Trucking. He holds a drifting license and has driven on some of the world's best race tracks, including the Nurburgring and Spa. He lives near Boulder, Colorado, and spends his free time snowboarding, climbing, and hiking. He can be reached at [email protected].

Hydrogen Fuel Cell & BEV Survey
The following survey was sent as a link in an email cover message in February 2023 to the newsletter lists for Overdrive and CCJ. After approximately two weeks, a total of 176 owner-operators under their own authority, 113 owner-operators leased or assigned to a carrier and 82 fleet executives and 36 fleet employees from fleets with 10 or more power units had completed and submitted the questionnaire for a total of 407 qualified responses. Cross-tabulations based on respondent type are provided for each question when applicable.
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