Mercer Transportation


UPS Tackles EV Infrastructure Hiccups in California

We’ve got some buzz about the UPS distribution center in Compton, California, and how it’s dealing with electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure challenges. You’d think it’d be a showcase for UPS’s commitment to a zero-emission future, but it’s turning out to be a tale of perseverance and some quirky hurdles.

UPS, the big shot in the world of transportation tech, is part of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency’s (NACFE) Run on Less Electric Depot trials. It’s all about testing out electric trucks on the front lines and reporting on how fleets are handling this transition. And let’s just say, it’s not all smooth sailing.

Dennis Elford, UPS’s director of maintenance and engineering, takes us on a journey back five years when they started talking about transitioning to electric trucks. He calls it a “long journey” with a big hill to climb, and they’re still climbing it today. The biggest bump on the road? Infrastructure.

It turns out that the UPS Compton facility sits in two different municipalities with their own rules and requirements for electric infrastructure. This has led to some frustrating bureaucratic roadblocks that have left folks scratching their heads.

InCharge Energy, the charging hardware provider on the site, has been partnering with UPS for over three years. They’re all about planning, designing, engineering, and installing the charging equipment. Terry O’Day, the COO and Co-Founder of InCharge, sees a bright future for UPS Compton—going 100% electric in the long run.

For now, they’ve got three ABB chargers outside the facility, ready to juice up 10 Freightliner eCascadias. These chargers are there as a temporary solution to overcome some unexpected infrastructure issues UPS encountered during their transition.

There’s a bit of a twist here. The heavy-duty chargers outside are a stopgap measure because of an unforeseen snag. Chanel Parson, director of electrification for Southern California Edison, explains that one project for last-mile delivery vehicles went pretty smoothly, but another project for Class 8 vehicles had some hiccups, mainly due to permit and easement challenges. They’re working to resolve this, but for now, the heavy-duty chargers outside are doing the job.

So, what’s happening inside the distribution center? Marcus Kilgo, project manager at InCharge Energy, fills us in. They’re using InCharge’s InControl Load Management platform, which limits the power drawn from the charging stations to ensure the facility’s total load is never exceeded. It’s all about smart power management, keeping everything running smoothly.

UPS has gone for InCharge’s ICE 30 charging stations, and there are 15 of them hooked up to an 800-AMP 480 panel. These DC fast chargers can handle up to 30 kW, and they’re conveniently located under the metro line inside the facility.

Isaiah Larson, program manager at Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp, tells us they’re evolving the charging setup, including adding AC charging to allow for longer dwell time charging. It’s all part of the ongoing journey.

Dennis Elford sums it up nicely: it’s a challenge, but when you see those electric vehicles hitting the road and making a positive impact on people’s lives, it’s all worth it. Helping the planet and improving lives—one electric truck at a time!

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