Electrical Infrastructure

How does a Ground Handler or Airline maintain a profitable fleet of service vehicles in a world of tougher regulatory requirements and increased pressure to cut cost?

The answer is much easer than one might think. Electric vehicles have been the answer for the last 10 years.

Lately though, airport fleets are turning to a new technology to address the growing concern of gas/diesel emissions and the high cost of fuel. Due to the perceived lack of electrical infrastructure at airports, operators are turning to hybrid vehicles to reduce emissions and retain a satisfactory duty cycle. Hybrids seem to fill the gap left by electric vehicles that are limited by range and the available power at an airport.

There is an alternative to the high cost of hybrid GSE, Fast Charging. Fast charging is not the same as high frequency charging or other charging technologies of yesterday. Fast charging is revitalizing airports across the world that lack sufficient electrical infrastructure to accommodate new electric fleets. Fast charging is not just a charger, it is an intelligent system that is designed to maximize the available electrical infrastructure. This concept allows electric fleets to stay in service for 18 to 24 hour operations with one battery and opportunity charging. This new technology can introduce enough energy into the vehicle's battery in 30 minutes to allow operation of that vehicle for several hours. Thus, if the vehicle is charged during windows of opportunity throughout the day it is possible to keep the vehicle operational for the entire day.

Why not use Hybrids?

Hybrids cost more in every category. Hybrids combine the components of an internal combustion vehicle with that of an electric vehicle to produce a costly, more maintenance intensive and less reliable unit. An electric vehicle has a battery and one major moving part, the electric motor. The hybrid combines a battery, engine, generator, and motor each having to work together to make the unit function properly.

When companies made the change from internal combustion GSE to electric, the driving force was regulatory pressure to achieve clean air standards. Once the shift was made, operators quickly discovered the benefits of electric GSE in reduced operational cost from fuel and maintenance savings. The only drawback was the limitation of the battery. Electric GSE began showing up at airports that had no regulatory pressure due to the ROI of electric over intern combustion.

The hybrid defies the ROI model by being more costly in both acquisition and operational costs.

The intelligence built into the fast charging system also allow for smatter use of electrical infrastructure.

Most airports use boarding bridges to board passengers for their safety and comfort. These bridges consume large amounts of power for about 60 to 75 minutes of the day. During the remaining 22 to 23 hours of the day that power remains unconsumed. Why not make that power available for charging vehicles while the boarding bridge is stationary? Using the smart controls of a fast charging system, the charger can detect when the bridge needs power, in which case the charger shuts down. Once the bridge has completed its movement, the charger returns to full power and continues to charge the vehicles. This allows electric vehicles to operate in locations where available infrastructure limiting factor. 

Cost benefit of using Electric

If you operate a Diesel/Gasoline fleet, you are subject to considerable uncertainty. As an Airline or Ground Handler that uncertainty can be found in varying fuel prices, maintenance and repair costs, parts, and spare equipment cost. Implementing an Electric Vehicle solution for Bag Tractors, Belt Loaders, Cargo Loaders, Lavatory Service Trucks, and Narrow-body Aircraft Tractors can reduce most of those costs. By replacing those vehicle types with electric equipment, you will eliminate some of the uncertainty and gain cost reductions over internal combustion. Electric equipment is not subject to fluctuating fuel prices. In fact electricity is the most stable energy source in the world (outside of California). Electric vehicles have fewer moving parts and require 30 to 60 percent less maintenance than their internal combustion counterparts. Fewer moving parts also equate to lower parts inventories and less operating cash tied up in those inventories. Finally if your equipment is more reliable and requires less maintenance, the number of required spares diminishes as well.

If you currently operate an electric fleet, you have realized a portion of the available benefit; however, there is additional technology to assist you in capturing further savings. With the deployment of Fast Charging, a whole new opportunity to electrify fleets and achieve significant cost reductions on existing fleets becomes a reality. Fast Charging safely charges batteries in about a quarter of the time required to charge a battery using conventional chargers. The reduced charging time allows your vehicles to operate 18 to 24 hours a day on a single battery by charging during staff breaks and lunches. Gone are the days of changing batteries or operating twice the required vehicle to allow for charging down time.

Fast Charging is also driving the development of electric vehicles that were once considered too "demanding" for battery power. Only with Fast Charging, is it possible to electrify a cargo container loader and keep it in service all day in a hub operation. Narrow Body Aircraft Tractors and Lavatory Service Trucks are currently fulfilling "hub-type" duty cycles throughout the entire day by Fast Charging between turns and during staff breaks. In the near future, you will see Wide body aircraft tractors and Cargo tractors that operate solely on battery power.

AeroVironment, a leader in environmental technology, has delivered over 3000 Fast Charging ports to Airports in the United States and around the world. As the leader in Fast Charging applications at airports, AeroVironment would like to extend you an invitation to achieve sustainable cost savings through effective application of the best technology. Please contact Darren King at FastCharge GSE to discuss your fleet today. Click Here

The True Cost of Going Electric - Download Here