Powering workforce EV charge points for warehouse and logistics centres

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Warehouse and logistics operators are investing in charging infrastructure to support the EV transition and establish more sustainable operations, says Joe Rowley, EV Director of Flowbird UK, who provides advice on deploying workforce EV charge points.

An increasing number of UK warehouse and logistics operators are deploying EV charge points on their estates. These distribution hubs with secure parking facilities are ideal locations for EV charge points, supporting workforces and fleet in their journey to go electric by providing reliable access to low-cost charging.

EV charging infrastructure can often be complex and is not typically a logistics company’s primary focus. Most of these companies will have to create their own plan for implementation and collaborate with partners to carry it out. 

As they do so, what should they consider? We propose here some top-level considerations, learned from working with organisations in this space.

  • Take time from the outset to promote the benefits that EV charge point infrastructure can offer your workforce - cutting pollution, improving air quality and lower long-term vehicle running costs. Emphasise that convenient charging at work could open EV ownership to those who do not have a driveway at home where they can install a charger.

  • Choose a partner who can manage the whole solution; from installation to ongoing maintenance, to setting up a payment scheme for your users such as a dedicated app or smart terminal. Logistics companies want to get on with business, and do not want to spend time resolving payment issues or finding maintenance engineers.

  • Plan for the correct number of chargers to accommodate the number of electric vehicles using your facilities. A survey of employees will identify demand at each site. It is also advisable to make future projections and put in the ‘behind-the-scenes’ EV infrastructure with all the necessary electrical connectivity to easily add new charge points as demand grows, rather than putting in charge points now that will not be used for two years.

  • Consider what tariff will work for you. Do you want to make money, e.g. via a revenue sharing arrangement with the charge point operator? Or is the goal to incentivise EV uptake or support your own fleets, in which case you may want to run them at cost? The details will need to be discussed with your charge point partners but it is important to consider what the business plan is.

  • Make sure that employees know how to use EV charge points once they are installed and encourage them to charge only when necessary. Remind them to move their vehicle once it has enough charge to ensure everyone can benefit. Talk to your charging provider about offering pre-booking of chargepoints via an app or website to address this problem. 

A good example of a company investing in EV charge points for their workforces can be seen at Waitrose’s main distribution hub in Bracknell. The project saw Flowbird – in collaboration with one of our charge point partners – make EV charging available for the local workforce via a dedicated app, providing staff – known as ‘partners’ – with exclusive access to charging facilities. 

The investment is part of a wider ambition of Waitrose’s parent company – The John Lewis Partnership – to achieve a fleet that is free of fossil fuel by 2030. Speaking to us about the project, Jackie Hewson, the retailer’s Alternative Fuel Implementation Manager, said “the company recognises that not everyone has a charger at home, and that providing workplace charging is key to supporting the EV transition and establishing more sustainable depot operations.” She also noted that “working with Flowbird has made things easy since they have both the charging and payment infrastructure to make it work.”

As EV uptake continues to gain traction across the UK, businesses need to plan the infrastructure to cater for the growing number of EVs people use to travel to and from work. The Waitrose initiative showcases how incorporating EV charge points at logistics and warehouse hubs can encourage and support more sustainable modes of transport. We hope many others will follow their example.

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