The ability to charge 32 battery-electric Class 8 trucks simultaneously is a highlight of Schneider's South El Monte, California, transition to battery-electric trucks.
Information about the dual-cord chargers is part of the first North American Council for Freight Efficiency profile of fleets leading the way in converting to battery-electric trucks.
The profiles feature fleets participating in NACFE's Run on Less Electric-Depot program. ROL-E Depot is a year-long study by NACFE analysts studying real-world battery-electric truck use and infrastructure issues. The goal is to help North American fleets begin to transition to BETs by conveying lessons learned by fleets in the study.
As part of that process, NACFE is releasing profiles of the fleets it is working with on this latest Run on Less project, to give as much insight as possible into their electric-truck operations and adopting electric trucks at scale.
The first participant Fleet Profile looks at Schneider’s South El Monte, California, intermodal distribution center. At this location, Schneider is transitioning away from diesel-powered Class 8 tractors to the Freightliner eCascadia electric truck.
When this process is complete by September of this year, Schneider will have 92 electric trucks operating from the South El Monte facility engaged in domestic intermodal, short-haul operations. For the most part, the trucks remain between 80 and 100 miles away from the charging base at El Monte during the course of a day. Payload on the trucks is “variable.” But they can go up to 82,000 lbs. GVWR, according to NACFE.
Operational Adjustments Big and Small
The process of converting to electric trucks and installing modern charging infrastructure has been challenging for everyone involved, said Jeremy Hock, equipment engineer, Schneider, in a fleet profile video created by NACFE. It has meant many adjustments.
One example is the way drivers are given trucks.
“We’ve made some minor adjustments to the driver truck assignments,” Hock said. “Instead of having an assigned truck, they’re in the next truck that has completed charging.”
“I go to one of the rail yards, pick up a container, take it to a warehouse,” Marty Boots, a Schneider driver at El Monte, said in the video. “Depending on how many miles and how much weight there is, I may have to schedule a stop back at the yard. I don’t have to stop and charge. I just drop the truck off, put it on the charger and grab another truck and continue my day.”
The experiences of drivers like Boots, and the lessons they’ve learned, have been critical not just for Schneider, but for Freightliner as well, said Rakesh Aneja, vice president, electric mobility, Daimler Truck North America, also featured in the video.
“Feedback came in from real-world drivers hauling real-world freight,” Aneja said. “They were giving us design input; where the charge port should be located, for example. But equally, if not more importantly, what infrastructure and ecosystem do we need to operate these trucks.”
“I wouldn’t put this in the ‘easy to do,’ category,” Hock added. “The list of learnings we’ve had to do over the last few years here wouldn’t be a short one.”
A Unique Charging Setup
One of the unique features at the El Monte Schneider facility that NACFE paid particular attention to are the electric power dispensers.
According to John Richardson, electric charging specialist, NACFE, Schneider selected a somewhat unusual charging system for El Monte operations.
“Another unique feature here at this Schneider facility is the power cabinet they’ve selected to serve the dispensers that charge the electric trucks,” he explained in the NACFE video. “They are manufactured by Power Electronics. And they are enormous compared to what you’ll typically see.”
Richardson said all of the power modules that are inside each charging system are linked together to provide power to each of four different dispensers. Those four dispensers, in turn, each feed two power cables.
“So, they can have multiple charging events at each dispenser,” Richardson explained. “One liquid-cooled cable provides 500 amps of charging power, and an air-cooled cable provides 300 amps. The cables can be used to charge either one truck, or on two separate trucks.”
“The electrification of transportation is an opportunity to think about energy as an asset – not an expense,” added Randall Kaufman, sales director for Black and Veatch, which built the new charging station on the site. “It can be applied to buildings, on-site generation and energy storage, monetization of energy. Now, energy is fuel for your vehicles. But the facilities are already using electricity as energy. So, there’s an interesting opportunity to shift the way of thinking about electricity.”
"I think five years from now, success for this facility is it’s a routine operation that happens to be electric,” added Rob Reich, chief administrative officer, Schneider. “It’s great for our business. It’s great for our customers. It’s great for our drivers. It’s great for our community. And I think the other measure of success is that we look back on it as the first of many.”
Originally posted on Trucking Info