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  • Writer's pictureEmre Can Anlar

Manufacture's perspective: Unplugging Barriers and Charging Ahead in emobility

In today's feature, we dive deep into the transformative world of fast-charging infrastructure from the perspective of a manufacturer. We are privileged to have Joan Sardà, Marketing & Communication Manager of Circontrol S.A., a leader in charging solutions from Spain with top leading position in Europe, and Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer, the pragmatic strategist at the helm of greenventors GmbH, who is lending a unique perspective to e-mobility consultation.

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Picture of Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer (MD greenventors GmbH) & Manuel Fernandes (Emobility Advisor)
Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer (CEO, greenventors GmbH) & Joan Sardà (Marketing & Comm. Manager, CIRCONTROL, S.A)

Mr. Sardà, could you explain your involvement in developing High Power Charging (HPC) infrastructure?

Joan Sardà: At Circontrol, we've collaborated with municipalities and utilities on innovative charging solutions. Since 2008 our natural market is Europe, where obviously we have a top leading position in Spain and the closest countries, but we are already in more than 60 countries, especially in Latin America and EMEA. We've been involved in numerous groundbreaking projects, including the installation of a 1.5MW charging hub in a basement parking. We've also been updating our product development with HPC standards, courtesy of our membership in relevant organizations like Charin and Chademo. From the technology point of view, during the last years we have been preparing our facilities with a comprehensive laboratory that allows us to do in-house all the tests that HPC product development requires.


HPC Charging Park in Madrid including Raption Chargers from Circontrol
HPC Charging Park in Madrid including Raption Chargers from Circontrol

Dr. Pfeiffer, as a consultant, how do you assist manufacturers like Circontrol and chargepoint operators in tackling e-mobility market challenges?

Dr. Pfeiffer: At greenventors, we adopt a pragmatic approach. We don't simply offer advice; we get involved in the process to ensure business success. This includes analyzing market trends, understanding regulatory changes, and creating innovative solutions that address the unique challenges of this nascent market. It is always important to us that the technical solution with its many features not only works, but that the business model of the charging station operators can function together economically. For us, this means that the charging service must meet a user-friendly and reliable environment in addition to flawless technical functionalities. This often also means that manufacturers and operators have to work together on service development.

At Circontrol we prioritize in-house interoperability tests to guarantee proper communication between our chargers and EVs. Those tests are common and convenient for both sides, from the manufacturer and from the OEMs’ point of view. - Joan Sardà

Mr. Sardà, how do you ensure your HPC systems' compatibility with various EVs?

Joan Sardà: At Circontrol we prioritize in-house interoperability tests to guarantee proper communication between our chargers and EVs. Those tests are common and convenient for both sides, from the manufacturer and from the OEMs’ point of view. It is not just a matter of making sure chargers communicate properly with EVs, but also that new EVs are able to charge properly with the current public infrastructure yet installed. It's not simply about compliance with regulations, but achieving a mutual understanding of the communication protocol. Keep in mind that standards are evolving as technology does, so there are a lot of technical details, especially in regard to the communication protocol between the charger and the VE that RD engineers from both sides want to evaluate. That's why we also participate in "testivals" to further evaluate interoperability.

As a consultant, I took this experience as a stark reminder that, regardless of who's at fault in such situations, the end-user suffers. Therefore, in my role at greenventors, I underscore the importance of interoperability in all of our consultancy projects. - Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer

Dr. Pfeiffer, we've heard from Mr. Sardà about Circontrol's diligent efforts to ensure interoperability. From your perspective as an EV driver, could you share an experience that illustrates the importance of this aspect?

Dr. Pfeiffer: Certainly, I remember an incident that made me realize the importance of interoperability first-hand. I was traveling with my two young children during the summer. We reached a charging station, but to my dismay, my EV couldn't charge due to an incompatibility issue with the charger. This frustrating experience brought to light the urgent need for enhanced cooperation in the e-mobility market.

As a consultant, I took this experience as a stark reminder that, regardless of who's at fault in such situations, the end-user suffers. Therefore, in my role at greenventors, I underscore the importance of interoperability in all of our consultancy projects. The industry should strive to prevent such occurrences to ensure drivers are never stranded, particularly when they have young passengers. This underscores the need for collaboration and 'coopetition' in the young and rapidly evolving emobility market.


Dr. Pfeiffer, in your consultancy work, how do you help your clients navigate the complex world of interoperability?

Dr. Pfeiffer: We offer guidance based on rigorous research and hands-on experience. Whether it's understanding new technical protocols or facilitating collaborations for interoperability tests, we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our clients from the CPO as well as the manufacture world to ensure they can serve a diverse range of EVs effectively.

high-power charging hardware as an essential part of the emobility ecosystem
High-power charging hardware from Circontrol in a service station concept

Mr. Sardà, how do you navigate evolving EU standards and maintain infrastructure compliance?

Joan Sardà: Our products use a modular technology architecture that allows for updates in case of regulatory evolutions. Despite efforts to foresee standardization, we understand there are circumstances that are unforeseeable. Therefore, we have a retrofitting capability in place, although we work hard to avoid it.


Mr. Sardà, could you elaborate on your user-friendly HPC infrastructure?

Joan Sardà: Usability is at the core of our vision. Our focus is on the user experience, optimizing everything from connector heights and cable management to touchscreen interfaces and language options. Our goal is to provide a smooth and intuitive charging journey for all users.


Dr. Pfeiffer, how do you aid your clients in enhancing the usability of their products or services?

Dr. Pfeiffer: Within the scope of our mandates, we help our clients to put the end user at the center of their design process. We collaborate to evaluate current designs, suggest improvements, and implement changes that will improve the user experience. We believe in the power of simplicity and convenience in driving the adoption of e-mobility.


Mr. Sardà, how do you manage preventive and corrective maintenance of your HPC infrastructure?

Joan Sardà: We have an after-sales strategy that includes continuous training for our service partners and availability of Spare Parts Kits. We are also working on a Control Room to monitor field products and provide higher standards of preventive support. Additionally, we are implementing AI to enhance preventive maintenance and improve the uptime of our chargers.


Mr. Sardà, how do you approach scalability considering the projected growth in demand for HPC?

Joan Sardà: We are strengthening our supply chain and manufacturing capacity continuously. Our products are designed using power modules that can be upgraded in the future. We are also developing software tools for managing chargers and performing dynamic power management when demand is high.

The choice of hardware supplier is crucial as it affects reliability, user experience, and station longevity. At greenventors, we guide Chargepoint Operators beyond just technical specs. - Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer

Dr. Pfeiffer, from the perspective of a Chargepoint Operator, how important is the selection of the right hardware supplier, and what guidance does greenventors provide to buyers in such situations?

Dr. Pfeiffer: The choice of hardware supplier is crucial as it affects reliability, user experience, and station longevity. At greenventors, we guide Chargepoint Operators beyond just technical specs. We consider the supplier's approach to interoperability, regulatory adaptability, and user-focused designs. Furthermore, we assess their scalability, financial stability and long-term vision. We help Chargepoint Operators consider these factors and choose a supplier that offers a good balance between quality, innovation, and cost-effectiveness. Our pragmatic approach ensures that our clients make decisions that support both their immediate requirements and long-term business success.

Scalability excites me as it opens new opportunities to meet the increasing demand for High Power Charging, playing a part in driving the emobility revolution forward. - Joan Sardà

Mr. Sardà, you've been deeply involved in the development of High Power Charging (HPC) infrastructure, and Circontrol has been at the forefront of innovative projects in the emobility sector. What is your personal vision behind working in this market, and what drives you to push the boundaries of HPC technology?

Joan Sardà: My personal vision for the emobility market is fueled by a deep desire to contribute to a cleaner and more sustainable future through electric transportation. It's so exciting to participate in the goal to provide the best solution to recharge all the EVs that will come in the coming years without overloading the grid. Scalability excites me as it opens new opportunities to meet the increasing demand for High Power Charging, playing a part in driving the emobility revolution forward. It’s like having to cook an excellent meal while having several items on the table. Using this parallelism, normally the right amount of each component makes the best recipe. In our case, the components are infrastructure (ready and running), getting the right POIs, matching demand with the capacity of charging hubs, using Smart Charge (intelligent load and power management), taking benefit of the daily time balancing, including the auto-generation sources mixed with grid, all mixed with the European and National policies/directives (AFIR, 15118, DC meters). Ultimately, my passion lies in making a tangible difference, contributing to a greener world and a better future for generations to come.


Today's discussion highlighted the crucial role of collaboration, innovation, and user-centric design in the e-mobility industry. Both Circontrol and greenventors are playing significant roles in shaping this burgeoning sector. As we've seen from Dr. Pfeiffer's personal experience, the goal is to create an environment where EV drivers never have to worry about being stranded due to issues of interoperability. The progress made by industry leaders, such as Joan Sardà and Dr. Pfeiffer, takes us a step closer to a future where EVs become the norm. Stay tuned for more insightful "Behind the Scenes" conversations in this exciting space.

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