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EV Startup and the Race to Innovate

Automotive Hardware and Software - Americas

Business Overview

Business Focus
This company’s mission is to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles by offering an energy delivery solution that is as fast, convenient, and cheap as gas.
Based in the US
Developing a modular battery swapping solution which can deliver a 100% charge to any EV in under 5 minutes.
Business Case
Needed an easier way to deploy their Docker containers to local Linux machines that run their charging stations.
Container Platforms
Docker
ample-2021-01-min

Company Background

This US startup aims to develop a modular battery swapping solution which can deliver a 100% charge to any EV in under 5 minutes. This makes it faster than traditional fast-charging stations and cheaper to build and install. Their stations are lightweight and do not require construction, so they can be deployed rapidly to meet new demand and rebalance charging infrastructure as needed.

Their technology also captures wind and solar energy when available and then delivers it to vehicles when drivers need it. This separates the process of recharging batteries from the process of transferring energy to vehicles, filling a key gap in the zero-carbon energy system of the future.

They have been recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential Companies in 2023 and have won several other awards for their innovative technology.

The Solution

Their team of technologists, designers, and environmental enthusiasts believe that EV adoption is among one of the most critical challenges of our time. They are in a race to innovate against other charging strategies and prove that battery swapping will prevail for a number of use cases.

The company validated their battery swapping solution with 10 locations in the Bay area. During this phase of development the operations team was manually traveling to each station to deploy and monitor applications.

It was a large effort that involved the coordination of multiple people. With plans for international expansion in Europe and Japan, it became obvious that the next step for the team was to implement a scalable delivery and monitoring solution. The director of software systems found Portainer while searching for an easier way to deploy their Docker containers to the local Linux machines that run their charging stations.

The Results

This strategic decision to move forward with Portainer was a swift consensus from the executive team. The Portainer solution was extended to the 20 person engineering team responsible for writing code and deploying software. Another 20 person operations team became core users of Portainer responsible for the functioning of the battery swapping stations. There was a critical handshake taking place between the teams and an opportunity to reduce the risk associated with the deployments and accountability for each team.

"The operations team is responsible for making sure the swapping stations are functioning correctly. So they also use Portainer for monitoring the status of all the containers, making sure the software is actually running on the stations."

With a primary goal of making sure battery swapping is as reliable and as fast as filling a car, the team used Portainer for 2 things:

  1. Deploying code to 10 physical swapping stations
  2. Dashboards to remotely monitor application status with the ability to troubleshoot and fix issues.

“Hours are saved across the 20-person team every week because Portainer automates software updates.”

Portainer now allows the operations team to monitor and manage a station without having to open 10 sessions with every station over the VPN. Every operations member is using Portainer with role-based access control (RBAC) granting the correct access for deployment, troubleshooting, and support.

With the new container management solution, the organization is transitioning from Engineering managed deployment to operations led deployment. This frees up the engineering team to keep building, and reduces the coordination required between teams. Coordination is reduced to troubleshooting on only a fraction of deployments.

“Right now, it’s the engineers who manage the deployment. And then they have to coordinate with the OPS team. So in the future, we want the OPS team to manage the deployment of software as well, so that they can manage the whole life cycle of deploying the software, making sure nothing goes wrong, testing the new features, and then reporting back if anything goes wrong.”

"Everything that Portainer did, worked for the use case that we were looking for, which is deploying and managing software across our swapping stations.

The Results

Operations teams are 5% more productive or savings of $20K per staff member  
Transition the Engineering Team away from software deployment, resulting in 2 hours of gained productivity each week per person.  
Leverage the operations team to manage the deployment and troubleshooting of applications.  

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