SUPPLY chain property company TMX says the rise of electric trucks will have impacts on supply chain operations and industrial property.

Here, TMX senior project manager Ben Caporale and senior consultant Callum Maxwell explores the challenges and considerations for businesses.

Of Australia’s 19.8m registered motor vehicles, trucks make up 20% of the vehicles, with the transport sector responsible for around 100m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

Major organisations across Australia, the likes of Woolworths, Coles, Telstra, Bunnings and Ikea, are committed to being powered by 100% renewable energy by 2025. With this goal in mind, many organisations are planning the adoption of electric vehicles in their transport fleets to help reduce their carbon footprint and achieve their sustainability goals.

Recently, Scania, Mercedes, SES and Volvo have all started investing in the production of electric vehicles, with Linfox currently trialling Volvo’s 4×2 FL Electric trucks.

The industry is making great progress in creating a cleaner and more sustainable transport industry, but as we start adopting electric vehicles on this scale, we need to consider the complex electrical and operational requirements on industrial properties.

The operational challenges

A key challenge with electric trucks is the time required to recharge the battery following a trip, combined with the distance a vehicle can travel on a full charge.

A standard 600-kilowatt truck battery would take 13.8 hours to recharge on a quick charging station and would travel at most 500 kilometres per charge. For Australian linehaul movements, this becomes unsustainable as a b-double would be unable to complete an entire trip, for example the 880 kilometres from Melbourne to Sydney, in one charge.

The alternative solution would be a swap and go system, with exchange stations developed along linehaul legs, which would require a surplus of batteries at trucks yards to enable quick exchanges. This would require additional space and electricity to truck yards to ensure the performance of the batteries. However, this would result in immense infrastructure works along linehauls legs.

Medium rigid vehicles would be more suitable for electric due to the smaller battery requirements and faster five-hour charging times. However, with a fixed battery, charging times would result in additional space. The land requirements would appear similarly to a petrol station, but each vehicle would require the station for roughly five hours to fully charge.


Future-proofing industrial sites

In any scenario, industrial sites need significant electrical infrastructure upgrades and additional space for charging or the storage of batteries. A standard logistics facility is 600 to 800 kilowatts and with electric vehicles potentially requiring that level of power per truck for fast charge capability, facilities would need to significantly multiply their power requirements to the site.

The energy authorities will also have to complete significant infrastructure upgrades from zone substations to industrial properties to accommodate this future increase in electrical demand for electric vehicles.

While these upgrades have not started and we are not certain of the electrical demand requirements for these vehicles, organisations building new facilities need to start thinking about integrating easy, effective solutions to future proof their site for the electric vehicle future.

This includes adding in-ground electrical conduits to future truck charge points at docks and parking, which will prevent typical retrofitting headaches such as cutting hardstand slabs on operational sites.

Organisations need to look at increasing future electrical capacity provisions within new electrical infrastructure. This includes allowing additional space within electrical main switchboards and electrical plantrooms for the increased electrical capacity requirements.

Additionally organisations will need to allow space directly adjacent to the existing high voltage kiosks for new HV infrastructure to the site, which will be required for the predicted increases in the electrical demand.

These are simple, cost-effective measures to integrate into a building design that will allow a smoother transition to electric trucks when they are fully adopted.

In conclusion, the electric vehicle future is coming as environmental, social and governance standards become a critical metric in which organisations are being measured. Organisations going through long term transformational changes or are planning to move into new industrial properties can now include these elements to better prepare them for the electrical vehicle future.