Spelsberg and grandcentrix develop smart charging station

The market for light electric vehicles has experienced immense growth in recent years. E-bikes, e-scooters or similar vehicle  have become an integral part of modern mobility in cities. Accordingly, the demand for charging stations, designed to allow e-bikes, as well as pedelecs and other LEVs, to be charged in all conceivable places without having to carry a charger with them, is also increasing.

Spelsberg Ladestation

Our customer Spelsberg has recognized this potential and thought one step further. Spelsberg now also sells a smart version in addition to the classic charging station. But what exactly does “smart” mean in this context? In addition to the advantages for the end user, such as quickly finding the nearest charging station via app, the smart charging station also offers many advantages and simplifications for the operator: Real-time monitoring and remote control of all charging stations in operation, for example, make it possible to set operating times and receive data on usage and error messages in real time. However, in order to do this, the charging stations first had to be brought online quickly and easily: We at grandcentrix provided precisely this support.

The Challenge: Reliable connection at any location

The development of the smart charging station which is based on the existing classic version presented us with special technical challenges. One requirement of the smart charging station, for example, was to ensure a stable Internet connection at various locations with different Internet accesses, both in the city center at a building via WLAN and on a remote viewing platform with only 2G network coverage.

So depending on the location, there are different ways, but also limitations, to get the charging station on the Internet. Furthermore, the mobile charging station is constantly developed further and the firmware is also improved in the course of this. Thus, the software has to be updated during the life cycle of a charging station, even if the charging station has already been installed and in operation for some time.

Spelsberg Video

Enabling smart products with our communication module

As a result of the technical challenges, we analyzed the different connectivity options with various components based on the specific functional requirements. This allowed us to determine the most profitable option in terms of system maintainability and cost. In addition, the solution we developed brings the product to the Internet everywhere using the simplest and fastest option, even at difficult locations with a cellular antenna optimized exactly for the available installation space. This is made possible by implementing different communication channels for the Internet connection. The smart charging station can be securely connected to one and the same hardware via LAN connection, WLAN, 4G or even 2G mobile radio, thus meeting the requirements of individual locations.

Spelsberg BCS Smart

Another advantage of our solution is that it allows the latest firmware to be installed via “over-the-air update” on all devices currently in operation: Employees do not have to travel to the stations, which saves personnel, time and costs, and makes the overall processes more transparent, faster and simpler. In order to also meet Spelsberg’s production requirements, we have developed our solution in such a way that it is possible to produce both the classic and the smart charging station in parallel by simply extending the production line.

Not only do we think about the result, but also about easy and efficient internal processes for our customer. Ultimately, we have not only designed our software to work in the field during regular operation, but have also thought through the entire manufacturing process at Spelsberg in the factory. The assembly worker can handle the entire quality assurance for the Internet connection in addition to the assembly process of the charging station. This efficient way of working can significantly save costs.