As commercial vehicle manufacturers and fleet owners transition to battery-electric powertrains, they must manage a new set of mobility variables. Factors such as the battery system’s state-of-charge (SOC), overall health, driving range and charging times are critical considerations in optimizing urban and long-haul transportation networks that rely upon this alternate fuel option.
Tracking such information can be a complex task, and companies increasingly rely on telematics to help them collect and process essential data. But installing a telematics network that is focused on critical battery performance and analyzing the data it generates has challenges of its own.
In a bid to streamline battery tracking options for customers with a single-source solution, battery-maker XALT Energy has developed XALT Battery Viewer (XBV), a telematics system that is sold as a companion tool for the heavy-duty lithium-ion batteries the company provides to commercial fleet manufacturers.
XALT Energy, a part of Freudenberg Sealing Technologies, is a Midland, Mich.-based global developer and manufacturer of lithium-ion technology solutions.
The XBV telematics system consists of a control unit and an all-in-one antenna that allows access to data that has been consolidated for easy viewing from virtually any electronic device that can be connected to a web-based portal. State-of-the-art hardware and software, developed in partnership with HED, Inc., a Wisconsin-based telematics company, also allows XALT to monitor the system data to analyze needs such as the actual energy required to optimize vehicle performance.
Advanced telematics at XALT. At its heart, telematics combines GPS, wireless technology and on-board diagnostics with data analytics to track vehicle variables such as speed, distance, direction, location, stops, and performance. A vehicle transmitter relays system information to a network receiver via Wi-Fi access points or cell towers. Raw data is processed through back-end software and compiled it into useful vehicle system information for fleet manufacturers and owners to track.
XALT Energy began pursuing telematics system technology in 2015 as a means for tracking data on the performance of the premium Li-ion batteries it was supplying commercial vehicle manufacturers, said Casey Hourtienne, Telematics Manager, XALT Energy.
The initial telematics efforts were geared toward trouble-shooting customer systems out in the field, Hourtienne said.
Starting in 2018, XALT took its pursuit of telematics to a new level. Fleet owners needed performance data about how battery-electric vehicles were being charged and driven; XALT decided to provide complete telematics service to its customers in a bid to help.
HED partnership. XALT developed XBV in strategic partnership with HED, a leading provider of intelligent vehicle controls and telematics systems. XBV features multiple connectivity options, is easily integrated into new and existing configuration designs and uses an adhesive mounting system to attach the telematics antenna quickly and easily. HED’s CANect portfolio of hardware, software, cellular, and portal solutions provided the two companies with a high-tech path to support XBV development.
The success of the XBV project was made possible by a clear objective from XALT. The company wanted to provide advanced battery management information to customers by leveraging HED’s CANect configurable toolset. XALT’s knowledge of battery systems and controls paired well with HED’s CANect Telematics. The system has been developed for market leaders like XALT, who know what they want to offer their customers but need dynamic tools to provide it.—Chad Repp, Business Development Manager, Telematics, HED
The XBV system tracks critical information such as charging status, energy generation and consumption, maximum and minimum cell and string voltages, temperatures, state of charge, diagnostic occurrences, location tracking and route map views. Information is accessible on a global basis through an XBV portal that uses intuitive dashboards to view critical battery data at all times.
By working in partnership with HED, we are able to provide our customers with a substantial variety of telematics tools including Wi-Fi, Ethernet, cellular and dedicated portals. HED has been growing with us on this project, approaching every feature of the system with a forward-thinking perspective. This has resulted in some very interesting telematics innovations.—Casey Hourtienne
In a unique innovation, XALT and HED have designed the XBV to allow municipalities and fleet owners to access dashboards that monitor the drive cycles, routes and charging times of individual vehicles on the road. This data can be extrapolated by XALT technicians to determine the size of the battery system an individual vehicle actually needs to optimize performance.
Because XBV is focused on providing battery-specific data to customers, Hourtienne pointed out, XALT technicians also track diagnostics codes to alert municipalities and fleet owners anywhere in the world about potential issues on a 24-7 basis. This collaborative approach helps customers to address maintenance and repairs proactively and results in less vehicle down-time.
Data accuracy and visualization simplicity were critical to XBV’s success given its relationship to the electric vehicle battery management system. In working with XALT, we utilized an engineering mindset to define the data strategy while retaining an information architect’s visual skillset in order to build out logical dashboards.—Chad Repp
The complex telematics capabilities that have emerged out of the XBV development process are impressive, Hourtienne agreed, and have led to important applications for the data generated by the system.
The most complex component of an electric vehicle is the battery, and understanding energy requirements is no small task. We can now offer customers trustworthy data that shows energy usage and energy requirements so they can design an optimum battery system for their application. Such data may show, for example, that they could reduce the original design of the battery system size by 20 percent for a particular use case. This saves money for our customers and enables them to sell their product at a lower price point.—Casey Hourtienne
Additional customer value. As manufacturers, fleet owners and municipalities continue to invest in sustainable transportation solutions like battery-electric vehicles, their familiarity with this new technology will grow. As it does, so will their ability to identify and request unique system designs to resolve their specific transportation challenges.
Information collected by XBV units will serve a crucial function in helping XALT technicians and engineers apply actual field data to address these requests. Detailed technical reports from XBV data are already helping XALT focus its product development efforts on specific areas of the battery. As the world pursues green commercial vehicle options, such a body of scientific knowledge will prove valuable to industry and individual customers.
We have a data-driven means for focusing our engineering and development efforts going forward. When we can optimize our battery designs based on actual data, it’s a significant benefit to industry and to customers. They will get more satisfaction and value from every system they install.—Casey Hourtienne