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Consat CEO emphasises global electromobility emphasis

Consat Telematics has rich history as a trusted intelligent PT solutions partner. Now, it’s turning its focus to the global electric bus transition

Just under two years ago, Pär Thuresson was announced as the new CEO of Consat Telematics. Following the history of telematics systems that started back in 1986, Consat has quickly found ways to accelerate the transition to become a leading intelligent public transport solutions company.

“We were founded in Sweden and the Nordics and have been working on solutions for public transport businesses since, including in the Asia Pacific and Australia,” Thuresson told ABC.

“We’ve digitalised public transport data since the mid-1980s, back when nobody knew about digitalisation in the sector.”

Since these early years, Consat Telematics has provided a core system that mines and provides digital intelligence for public transport operators, starting with a transit body in its home town of Gothenburg, Sweden – the Gothenburg Public Transport Administration.

It was back in 2010 that Consat Telematics first got involved in electromobility, with both Sweden and Norway among the early adopters of electric bus technology around the world. With almost all new bus deliveries in both countries now being zero-emissions, Consat Telematics has had plenty of scope to work together with global leading bus OEMs to drive innovation and data capabilities in the electric bus space.

“We’ve worked together with major bus companies like Volvo, BYD and more to improve telematics technology in the bus industry,” Thuresson says.

“With electric buses being an integrated part of operations in both Sweden and Norway for more than a decade, our experience with this technology gives us a lasting legacy as a leader in the public transport electromobility transition.”

Following the development of electromobility technology in Sweden, the acceleration of the zero-emissions transition in Norway means Consat Telematics has gained vital experience in both countries providing intelligent public transport solutions and passenger information systems.

Since the start, Consat has worked closely with public transport operators and authorities to support the electrification of public transport.

“What we’ve learnt with our customers is that we have a strong solution for them, which we’ve seen go into other markets like Australia, Canada and Brazil,” Thuresson says.

Consat’s Pär Thuresson. Image: Consat Telematics

“Australia is one of our largest markets outside of Scandinavia, and our experience in the Nordics has helped us bring innovative electromobility solutions to Australian operators.”

“Consat is on more electric bus OEMs in Australia than anyone else,” Consat APAC managing director Lachlan Mackay told ABC.

Consat’s presence in Australia began in 2017, with the solutions provider now having a customer base that includes Ventura Bus Lines, Transport for NSW and Transport for Brisbane. Offering a turnkey solution for intelligent public transport that is designed and produced in Sweden, local teams such as in Australia distribute systems that help more than 28,000 global vehicles, over 2000 of which are electric, with traffic and fleet management, passenger information and driver assistance.

While there has been much made about the unique challenges facing zero-emissions transport in Australia, Thuresson says climate and geographical barriers also impact other countries and their bus industries. While Australia’s arid climate may be different from Scandivania’s Arctic temperatures, Consat Telematics has adapted its systems to thrive in both the warmest and coolest of environments.

This experience has also led Consat to focus on driver behaviour and the role that safe and efficient driving |can have on the effective operations of zero-emissions buses and
coaches.

On top of concentrating on its own systems and how they can streamline energy usage, Consat Telematics has also taken strides in the driver coaching space to help the driver and the operator reduce energy consumption.

“The next area we’ve gone into is the planning stage of electromobility, as running an electric bus is completely different in terms of planning to a diesel bus,” Thuresson says.

“When running a diesel bus, the main problem you have is changing drivers, as the bus could travel all day on a single tank. But with electric buses, you need to ensure the bus can be charged optimally to run the route it’s planned for. This may mean that you have to plan for charging during the day.

“Through the experience we’ve built in dealing with integrated systems, we’ve become an expert in managing a vast amount of data for the public transport system and assuring that operators receive the required data for their operations.”

This intricate knowledge of electromobility has allowed Consat Telematics to determine the best ways to optimise charging within a bus’ integrated system. While Consat already has plenty of devices and systems available for operators, its next step is in becoming a leader in the electromobility space, ranging from charging scheduling to designing the most effective routes depending on road conditions, weather and traffic.

“We first took our products and capabilities to Australia via Sydney through the B-Line buses,” Thuresson says.

“We’ve really built on that from there, including through a large project where our system was implemented on rural Transport for NSW buses. We’ve also continually had discussions with operators and transit authorities in Melbourne and Brisbane, including the introduction of our passenger information systems on Brisbane’s CityGliders.

“We’ve created a very good and solid base in Australia and we’ve gained confidence from our customers. Now, we’re trying to evolve our support for them.”

A key lesson Thuresson wants to impart on the Australian market is the importance of integrating the buses and chargers in the one network. Consat Telematics has become a global leader in this integration, remaining agnostic across manufacturers to provide flexibility for the nation’s bus and coach operators.

This harmony across assets means Consat has plenty of learnings to hand down to operators. One of these tips is to secure good climate control of the bus through effective pre-heating or pre-cooling so that the battery isn’t used for excessive climate control when on the road.

Image: Consat Telematics

Another evolution of Consat’s solution is its driver coaching, where the driver gets support in efficient and sustainable driving. Consat Telematics is encouraging the use of gamification and positive reinforcement to motivate drivers to become better staff at the helm of electric buses.

“We collect a lot of data and statistics and have found the slight impacts that certain days can have on the running of electric buses,” Thuresson says.

“There are many useful insights that we’ve learned from the early implementations. This includes providing automated charging monitoring so that depot workers don’t have to physically check that each bus is charging at night.

“By remotely monitoring this, we are helping businesses overcome challenges and provide full monitoring of electric bus fleets.”

While Consat Telematics’ systems mainly focus on the buses themselves, the brand is also expanding to gain vital information on electric bus depots. Its information is helping inform operators on the best ways to balance loads and reduce costly charging peaks.

As well as predictive maintenance and other cost savings, Consat Telematics is set on becoming a global leader in intelligent public transport, with solutions that seamlessly integrate with electric bus operations and charging station management. With the transition underway in Australia, Consat’s plans include helping local operators establish innovative and effective electric bus operations.

“As a global market, we’re only at the starting point of the electromobility journey, so we’re going to drive innovation in the space,” Thuresson says.

“We want to continue using our system’s data to make public transport more efficient from both a driver and passenger perspective.

“We see a lot of opportunity to help local operators establish a more efficient operation in their electromobility journey.”

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