UPS Smart Electric Urban Logistics project

We implemented new smart electric vehicle charging systems to power UPS’s central London delivery fleet for what is believed to be the first of its kind in the world on this scale.

This smart charging solution allows UPS to increase the number of 7.5-tonne electric trucks operating from its London site from the current limit of 65 to 170, without the need for an upgrade to the power supply connection. 

UPS electric delivery van

Client

UPS is a global leader in logistics, offering a broad range of solutions including transporting packages and freight, facilitating international trade, and deploying advanced technology to more efficiently manage the world of business. 

UPS is committed to operating more sustainably – for customers, the environment and the communities they serve around the world. As part of their sustainability strategy, UPS are growing their electric vehicle fleet at their central London depot in Kentish Town, London. 

Challenge

Freight electric vehicles, like those used by UPS, can use up to ten times as much power as a typical home when charging. This means that charging large numbers of trucks simultaneously puts significant demand on the depot’s electricity supply. Due to a capacity limitation on the local electricity network, the integration of more electric vehicles at the depot would require a significant network upgrade to ensure the demand could be met. 

UPS identified that traditional network reinforcement was not a viable model for deploying more electric vehicles at its Kentish Town depot, and appointed UK Power Networks Services to design, deliver and operate a smart-grid solution. UPS’s requirements for the project were to allow the electrification of its 170-vehicle depot fleet whilst:

  • Avoiding network reinforcement
  • Ensuring business continuity
  • Deploying a future-proof solution
  • Being economical and sustainable

Approach and innovation

We undertook a feasibility study to investigate alternative options to network reinforcement technologies and solutions that would enable UPS to electrify their depot fleet without reinforcing the local network.

Our in-house Energy and Technology Consulting team, who are experienced in developing and implementing state-of-the-art power systems solutions, recommended the implementation of a smart grid system. 

This solution comprises of an Active Network Management system that monitors the maximum demand required by the site and controls the vehicle charging, scheduling the charge during the evening ready for the following day’s delivery. An energy storage system was installed to optimise the power available for the whole site, which is particularly important during periods of high demand.

The scope of the project included:

  • Upgrade of the existing charge posts on site to enable connection to the smart grid system
  • Installation of new chargers
  • Development of a smart grid application that communicates with the connected vehicles and the energy storage system to control the overall demand
  • Installation of an energy storage system which coverts and inverts power based on tariff, network loading and vehicle specific requirements
  • Collaboration with subject matter experts to develop the specification of the requirements for a new charge post with integrated smart grid functionality

By integrating active network management and battery storage system technologies, we ensured the depot’s electricity demand would not exceed the network’s limit. This preventied the need for significant investment in network electrical infrastructure and safeguarded UPS aganist the impact associated with having uncharged vehicles. 

Outcome

The solution addressed all of UPS’s requirements while offering system reliability and a replicable and scalable design. 

  • The Smart Grid system will enable UPS to fully electrify its Kentish Town fleet with half the connection capacity that was originally required, avoiding network reinforcement
  • The system will allow UPS to ensure ongoing continuity of business operations into the future while UPS transitions its fleet to electric
  • The project was the world’s first application of a smart grid system incorporating smart charging in a business as usual environment for a logistics company
  • The system incorporated additional functionality to provide further cost savings for UPS

Delivery and collaboration

The project was delivered on time and on budget and the solution is now operating as business as usual. It is an example of UK Power Networks Services’ innovative solutions to help businesses integrate electric vehicles into their fleets and optimise their existing infrastructure.

We deployed the Smart Electric Urban Logistics project in partnership with UPS, UK Power Networks and Cross River Partnership, with funding from the UK’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles through a competition led by Innovate UK.