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Smart Charging electric construction machines

Smart charging of construction machines is rapidly becoming a critical necessity

Our power network is straining under the rapid growth of both the demand from electric vehicles and machinery and the supply of renewable energy. Governments and network operators are compelled to intervene, just as the use of electric construction equipment is gaining significant momentum. The high charging capacities of these machines will have a major impact on measures to address network congestion. Are contractors and construction companies waiting for standardization and regulation from the government? Or are they taking control and becoming part of the solution?
The cause of the problem on the power network
Currently, only about 5% of all vehicles and construction machines in the Netherlands are electric. Yet, charging at the end of the workday or shift accounts for more than 20% of all electricity consumption within a small part of the day, roughly between 4:00 PM and 9:00 PM. What if the expected growth accelerates even faster?
Traffic jam congested power grid
Let’s compare network congestion to traffic jams on highways. In principle, we have enough highways, but when everyone uses them at the same time, it becomes congested. It is not socially responsible (in terms of impact and cost) to infinitely expand highway capacity based on pressure at peak times. Thus, we must be smarter about utilizing availability.
Innovations help spread demand of electricity

Drastic measures, such as “turning off” charging infrastructure during peak times, have been suggested. However, much can be gained by using intelligent charging systems that adjust the timing and power consumed based on the price and availability of electricity at that exact moment.

This intelligence must go beyond merely turning charging on and off at set times. Just like a detour route in a traffic jam, it will also become congested as soon as everyone starts using it. In the energy market, it can now be predicted a day ahead what the price will be (“day-ahead market”), but if conditions change, such as a surge of users or changed weather conditions, that prediction is no longer accurate.

Moreover, for large electricity consumers, there simply isn’t the option to plan power usage only outside of peak hours. Excavators, shovels, cranes, etc. must be able to charge when it best fits the work and the operator.

Smart Charging

The essence of the solution is that we must use electricity capacity smartly and automatically when it’s available. For example, at times when there is little charging, a lot of solar panels are supplying power and/or there is a lot of wind to drive wind turbines. Or by having a machine charge bidirectionally; as soon as there is less power available, the machine will act as a battery to return power to the grid.

For this, real-time insight is necessary. Not just predictive based on energy auction data a day ahead, but also responding to live developments on the network and the energy market. In this way, we can also tap into the so-called Balancing Market; this means that we will consume more power as soon as there is excess capacity. This helps energy suppliers avoid having to reduce capacity to prevent over- and underloading. A significant additional benefit is lower rates during charging, and higher during power return.

Smart Charging Electric Construction Machines
Smart Charging with the ICR Module from Dot Robot

We saw the problem of grid overload coming some time ago. That’s why we at Dot Robot started early on developing a solution, especially for electric vehicles and machinery that can be easily installed.

The ICR (Intelligent Connected Responsive) Module is a versatile platform that, in addition to usual day-ahead predictions, also reacts to real-time information.

This allows us to perform charging cycles based on the actual needs of operators, prices, and any other constraints. The ICR takes into account variables such as end charging time, a minimum capacity for emergencies, and, for example, peak and off-peak times on the network. And all this automatically. We can thus also respond to the current occupancy of the power grid. The ICR manages communication between all components in the machine and with the charging infrastructure.

The ICR Module can be installed in new electric machines, but also as a retrofit on existing machines, even when they are not developed by Dot Robot.

Release and subsidy

The release of the new ICR Module is scheduled for September 2024. In addition, the application for the SSEB subsidy reopened on March 5, 2024. Smart Charging can be co-financed to qualify for the subsidy. However, a first-come, first-served rule applies, as it has in the past.

Stay in the loop and be the first to benefit

There is a lot happening in this field and solutions are not immediately available. If you want to stay informed about developments regarding the power grid, Smart Charging, and the ICR Module, and be among the first to benefit when the first ICR Modules are delivered, please let us know and sign up here to stay updated:

SSEB Subsidy

To learn more about the possibilities and rules of the SSEB subsidy, please visit the government RVO website:

Get in touch

If you want to learn more and discuss with one of our specialists in this field, please feel free to contact Jai RambaratSingh directly.
Jai Rambaratsingh
Jai RambaratSingh

Managing Director / Co-owner

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