Parveen Raja talked to Seth Stansell of PosiCharge, a division of the Webasto Group, at Le Bourget during GSE Expo Europe to learn about the company and what it offers to the aviation industry
Raja: Could you introduce yourselves to our readers and say a little about Webasto PosiCharge?
Stansell: My name is Seth Stansell and I am the senior sales manager for ground support equipment at Webasto PosiCharge. We provide industrial fast-charging systems, primarily for airport applications. Our customers include all major airlines in the US and across Asia and North America, as well as international airports all over the world.
Over the last 20 years we have installed tens of thousands of charging ports for equipment all over the world and our technology allows for some of the most efficient and cost-effective fast charging in the world. This has given us significant market share in every market we operate in but particularly in North America, where we enjoy over a 90% market share – which is maintained today through customer service and great products.
Raja: Can you mention some of the airports at which you have installed your equipment?
Stansell: Yes, especially in the US every major airport, almost every international airport, has PosiCharge chargers installed, amongst the biggest ones being San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Newark, Dulles, Miami, Houston, Austin and Denver.
Raja: And beyond the US?
Stansell: Singapore Changi is exclusively PosiCharge, Hong Kong International Airport [HKIA] is also exclusively PosiCharge, both runways 1 and 2; the new third runway expansion is underway [at HKIA], and we are expecting to deliver first batches within a month for the third runway that is all exclusively PosiCharge. Wellington and Auckland in New Zealand are also exclusively PosiCharge. Bogota in Columbia, Panama City in Panama…
Raja: What about in Europe?
Stansell: Yes, in mainland Europe and the UK. For example, we have some installations in France, Denmark and Germany. We are expanding the product line in Europe and coming up with some unique solutions for the somewhat unique challenges found there, particularly in regards to power availability and power management.
These factors are going to be key worldwide as more GSE converts to electric power, power availability is going to be a critical factor for growth. In some areas we are already running up against limitations, and Europe is a key area where that is happening.
Raja: How do you compete with your competitors?
Stansell: So, because we have such a dominant market share, we don’t have any, I would say, ‘large’ competitors in this space. We have been doing this for over 20 years and some of the designs we abandoned have been adopted by our competitors, which we are fine with, but the reason why we have maintained our market share is because of our power distribution and the way we manage our outdoor rating. There are no filters on our system – they’re not necessary. We have a proprietary design that allows the system to cool without air exchange internally.
So, while no outside air gets into the components on the inside it still remains cool. Having no filters in the system reduces maintenance requirements and the life expectancy on our system can exceed 20 years. We have systems in the field that are 20 years old and still going strong, which is a massive cost benefit advantage.
Another benefit is that we can maximise the number of ports per input power supply. At an airport, getting access to electricity can be difficult, and it’s very expensive. A certain airport, for example, did a project with a competitor. They had 16 chargers installed and they estimated a cost of about US$2.1 million just for the infrastructure for these 16 chargers. [We estimate] it would have cost them around $147,000 for infrastructure for us to match the same output, which would have been a massive saving on installation cost, and that is because of the intelligent power distribution technology that we have patented.
Raja: How does it work? Because obviously the power is used by different ground handlers at the airport, by different service providers, so how does the airport then recover its costs? Is it charged to the service providers? Are you billing them?
Stansell: That is an interesting question. We do enable airports to recover their costs if that is their goal, but you would be surprised how few airports see that as a primary goal for installing these chargers.
Some airports don’t even bill for the electricity that is being used, which is a great advantage for those that use it and motivates some carriers and operators at those airports to go electric. But for those who think [recovering costs] is important, we do have a fantastic and robust analytics system that allows them to bill straight from the system. With Skylink-enabled devices you can access the chargers, you can track and manage assets including the vehicles themselves, you can see their state of charge, their charging history, battery data as well as bill for the electricity straight from the app.
Raja: Is that a programme that you developed?
Stansell: Yes, it is, it was built in-house by our team.
Raja: So, do you have that as an add-on? Or does it come with the system that you have installed?
Stansell: A customer will have the device and then it is up to them whether to activate it or not, but we are seeing more and more almost total activation going forward by customers because that data is so critical – especially for tracking, usage, cost and asset management. Some users even use it to understand asset distribution and if there are ports which are not being used very often and other ports which are always busy, then the data is very powerful.
Raja: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Stansell: I think electrification is a question mark for some users. As we convert from combustion to electric there is some uneasiness amongst some users, and that is natural. It’s new, they don’t have the mechanics to handle and to fix electric equipment and they don’t understand what their costs are going to be.
We try to be not just a charger sales group but an asset to our customers, so even in things which don’t make us money we like answering their questions, showing them we have free tools that they can use to understand what their conversion to electric would look like, what it would cost them, and most importantly what it will save them. Plus, we enable the data necessary to get government funding for those programmes.
Raja: Is that available worldwide or is it just in the US?
Stansell: The tools are available worldwide. Each region is handling electrification differently, but we provide the data and the knowledge to be able to take advantage.