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Grid & Co: Software for e-car charging stations

The market for e-cars is starting to grow. And charging stations for filling up with electricity are sprouting up like mushrooms. According to GoingElectric, at the beginning of 2019 there were more than 15,000 locations throughout Germany with almost 44,000 charging points for electric cars. Forecasts predict that once there are 1 million e-cars, the number of charging stations could rise to 80,000, which will be operated by a large number of providers.

Even today, the choice of charging station operators is so great that driving through Germany is confusing and complicated for drivers of electric cars. For example, it’s not always possible to pay by app, charge card, SMS, cash or credit card. In addition, there’s often a lack of price transparency as to how much it costs to recharge the battery.

Manufacturer-independent software for e-charging stations

Each charging station is actually a computer, including hardware and software, which not only has to provide electricity, but also bill for it. In addition, the charging stations need to be serviced remotely and report errors. The Berlin-based company Grid & Co. has developed Gridware, an open and manufacturer-independent complete system in the Open Telekom Cloud, including a usage and billing platform with which operators can centrally manage their charging stations.

Portrait of the founder of Grid & Co, Georg Schmitt Georg Schmitt, founder and managing director of Grid & Co: "With "Gridware", the Berlin-based company offers open and manufacturer-independent software for setting up and operating charging station infrastructures.

Gridware thus forms the interface between electric car drivers, billing providers, and electricity network and charging park operators. Configuration, control and monitoring of the charging stations are carried out via a browser. New charging points are simply added without reconfiguring the entire charging station. Grid & Co. uses the standard Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) for communications between the charging station and Gridware. This gives e-charging providers a management tool with which they can control and network the systems in real time.

Graphic shows how Gridware works Operators of charging stations can completely manage their charging station infrastructure with software from the Open Telekom Cloud.

Secure, mobile data exchange via SIM cards and mobile VPN

"It was important for us to make it as easy as possible to register a charging station," says Georg Schmitt, founder and CEO of Grid & Co., and he emphasizes: "Therefore, the use of our software is already efficient and economical by operating just one charging station with one charging point, although the operators can register and manage an unlimited number of charging stations."

Grid & Co. equips each charging station with a SIM card that securely transmits encrypted data on the operating status of the station and billing information to the Open Telekom Cloud via a mobile IP Virtual Private Network (VPN) from Deutsche Telekom. Customers can use individual dashboards to control their charging infrastructure. Statistics provide information about charging processes and capacity utilization at any time. Monitoring and alerting can also be integrated into their own infrastructure via standard interfaces.

Cashless payment via PayPal, credit cards or direct debit

Users of the charging station pay for the charging process by credit card, PayPal or debit card. "And if other payment methods, such as smartphone payment, become established, our software will make them available immediately," says Schmitt. This means that spontaneous users, corporate customers and fleet vehicle users can charge their vehicles with electricity at any time. And Gridware enables operators to set flexible and individual prices for each charging station. Using the intuitive user interface, they can set an individual price for each charging point.

If the charging infrastructure is integrated into the system, the charging stations can be maintained remotely and updated to the latest system status. Thanks to standardized interfaces, financial accounting is simple and operator-friendly. The customer can access invoice and booking data in his own customer portal, which greatly reduces the costs and effort of customer communication.

Highly available, multi-client capable and scalable as required

Grid & Co. is a member of SoftwareBoost, a partner program for providers who want to offer their customers software from the cloud as Software as a Service. Among other things, they have access to credit for IT resources in the Open Telekom Cloud. "For the development and hosting of Gridware as Software as a Service (SaaS), we chose the Open Telekom Cloud for two main reasons," explains Schmitt. "Our customers can be sure that we are complying with current data privacy guidelines, which is a very important aspect for transaction and customer data. Open Telekom Cloud is certified according to the Trusted Cloud Date Protection Profile (TCDP) 1.0. In addition, the backend system is highly available, multi-client capable and highly scalable. Schmitt: "The data of the various customers is strictly separated from each other and large amounts of data can be processed at the customer, infrastructure and service level."


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