Batteries are an essential part of the logistics delivery process now. But there are many things that need to be taken into consideration. We spoke to Sinah Truffat, Head of Expansion at Swobbee about the future of batteries as a service, the importance of safety and maintenance.
Sinah, what are the main problems that fleets and organisations of all sorts in logistics are facing when it comes to batteries?
The first one is certainly safety. Most charging currently happens unmonitored in warehouses and there are risks associated with that. For example, batteries can overheat while being charged and fires can start. Some companies have even opted in to having employees staying overnight. This is an extremely costly solution.
The high upfront investment costs into batteries is a second challenge. For many companies, especially young logistics companies, the upfront investment only for the battery can be around 50% of the total vehicle cost. The market is still news and volatile. One of the solutions to these problems is batteries for rent.
Charging operations are also costly and deter investment and players. There needs to be a good network of charging stations and battery swapping stations too.
What can be done to improve safety? No one will want to use it unless they feel it is safe enough.
The choice of battery comes first. There are many batteries to choose from and usually the cheapest ones are not safe. We recommend excluding those completely. Station monitoring needs to be done 24/7 and to take into account all important measures. Maintenance is also key. Finally, you need to be prepared. There always is a risk of fire, for example, and you need to have the measure to contain it if it happens.
Swobbee offers a rental model for batteries. According to Sinah this makes life much easier for users and a lot of the complexity is being taken away. The company operates a successful service in Berlin through large petrol stations and other central locations in the city center.Organisations can also work directly with such providers and rely on a more private experience where maintenance is taken care of.
How about lead times? How much of a problem is this?
It would depend on which type of battery we are looking at but there are problems. Specific models can have longer lead times and we have also found that much of our productions goes straight to being used.
What do you wish would change so we can adopt such solutions more?
There needs to be a battery standardisation. It will lower the costs for everyone and allow for better and faster reuse. Last mile companies, which predominantly use the service, need more central urban centres. There needs to be storage options with a full solution in place. Some cities are actively funding this but more needs to be done.
Finally, what steps would you recommend when going down the battery route?
We always ask about the specific requirements. But we will always recommend working with proven battery manufacturing. Also, have a system that can monitor your charging too. ✷