Industrial Automation

EV Charging Station Components in an IIoT World: 4 Considerations

Mike Fisher

Whether they deal out snacks, print boarding passes or tally items at a grocery store, self-service kiosks are an impressive example of how industrial equipment is used in all kinds of public-facing forms. Electrical vehicle (EV) charging stations are another great example.


Much like other public-facing kiosks, EV charging stations can be deployed in a wide range of operating environments, including open-air parking lots at a retail center, underground garages below commercial buildings and roadside waystations along highways. No matter where they’re deployed, however, EV charging stations need to be accessible, reliable and easy to use.


The Importance of Data within EV Charging Stations

Because EV charging stations are relatively new systems compared to other industrial machines that have been around for decades or longer, it’s even easier for them to take advantage of Industry 4.0.


Like other Industry 4.0 systems, the key to operational success with an EV charging station system is harnessing usage and performance data. For this reason, a localized data network is a critical part of your EV charging system.


A small-scale OT network relies on a multi-port switch to transfer data between appropriate subsystems. Selecting a managed switch for this function allows the formation of VLANs to ensure that priority and critical data are secure.


Managed switches provide the same functionality as unmanaged switches—connecting Ethernet devices for communication purposes—but they also offer features that unmanaged switches can’t. They’re sometimes considered “smart switches” due to the levels of intelligence they can bring to the network.


They make it possible to manage, configure, monitor and troubleshoot network issues, providing a management interface and diagnostic tools to aid in remote management and maintenance of deployed systems. They also provide a layer of security that unmanaged switches don’t.


Unmanaged switches offer an attractive price, but their lack of management interface and support functions complicates system status monitoring. Outages take a long time to restore if a technician needs to be dispatched to perform even the most basic of functions, such as rebooting.


Choosing the right switch helps make sure data packets are sent to and from charging devices quickly and accurately—without delays or downtime.


Orchestrating this kind of data flow in edge environments where devices are located as close to users as possible for best performance—like EV charging stations—is no simple feat. Very few industrial systems can do so.


To ensure the level of performance that critical infrastructure demands, there are four critical factors you should consider as you select EV charging station components. These criteria apply to everything from power management and control systems to display screens and monitoring devices (Industrial Internet of Things [IIoT] included).


1. Environmental Operating Conditions

Industrial-grade components are a natural choice for EV charging stations. Enterprise or consumer-grade electronics may survive in climate-controlled housings but maintaining their strict operating conditions can consume lots of power.


Using industrial components made to operate within extended environmental conditions (EECs) offers a broader operating range so onboard climate control systems don’t have to work as hard—if they’re required at all.


If onboard climate control systems fail, then using industrial components gives engineers and technicians time to take corrective action before failure spreads and creates unexpected downtime.


2. Warranties & Product Availability

It’s very important to work with reputable OEMs that stand behind their work for the long haul—companies that support their components without forcing you to make bill of material changes and seek out recertifications as time goes on.


The more critical the components are to single and group EV charging station deployments, the more important the warranties and product availability become to make sure they’re supported and easy to find over the long term.


Admittedly, even the best products can fail in operation. There are certain criteria you should consider to make sure this happens as infrequently as possible.


For example, mean time between failures (MTBF) is a good measure of how reliable a given EV charging station unit may be. If the product fails, then the mean time to replace (MTTR) suggests how quickly a system relying on those parts can be restored.


3. Safety Certifications

Because EV charging stations are used by the public, they need to be certified to standards that guarantee safety for people and other pieces of equipment that meet them.


Station design often requires rigorous testing. Using components that come with their own safety certifications can make the testing process much easier.


4. Scalability

Systems can be deployed as standalone units or as part of a cluster of several units. Individual units need to be completely self-contained—meaning they include everything they need onboard – whereas clustered units can share resources to lower the per-unit cost.


The best designs for charging stations should include the capacity to scale by utilizing components from one kiosk to support the operation of another. Using the same components to support both operating models without inflating product cost gives designers an easily scalable platform to work from.


A hardened industrial edge compute device allows you to deploy custom software onboard the charging station so it can be close to the action to do the best. Integral to this edge platform is persistent VPN connection to a public or private cloud.


Network providers often offer special capabilities to secure connections. Whether the connection goes through an open network or not, it will eventually hit the internet. A VPN is an easy solution to make sure your data stays secure along its end-to-end journey.


How Belden Can Support EV Charging Stations


When designing an EV charging system, there’s certainly lots to consider—from reliability to warranties. We know it can seem very daunting. Fortunately, Belden has a scalable, cost-effective, end-to-end solution specifically intended for EV charging stations.


  • Belden Horizon uses the Persistent Data Network (PDN) to provide an always-on, always-secure VPN connection for secure remote monitoring and access
  • ProSoft ICX35 provides a dedicated cellular connection on your carrier of choice to host encrypted VPN tunnels
  • Hirschmann BRS20-4TX-EEC or BRS20-8TX-EEC offer a cost-effective layer 2 switch to create a localized OT network with a managed interface and advanced security features
  • Hirschmann OpEdge-8D can be an addition to the solution that provides a multi-port edge compute platform managed by Belden Horizon


Stay tuned to our blog to learn more later this year! For now, discover more about the industrial edge and industrial edge compute devices.