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Case Study

Fabrikat Product Development Case Study

Overview

Fabrikat Product Development Case Study

Fabrikat (Nottingham) Ltd is based in Sutton-in-Ashfield and design, manufacture and supply street lighting columns, traffic management and telecommunication structures, pedestrian guardrail, parapet, fencing and street furniture products.

The Issue

Fabrikat were demonstrating and trialling single phase Mode 3 electric vehicle charging points located within lamp posts. Trials were going well, but they recognised they needed to be able to retrofit EV charging units to lamp posts in a quick and repeatable fashion to deliver a successful EV charging rollout.

The form factor of the trial units was bulky and often meant rearranging the internal wiring and existing circuit breakers within the lamp post to fit the EV charging unit. Fabrikat wanted to see if it was possible to arrange the kit in a different way to allow it to be mounted on the inside of a modified lamp post door, so there was no impact on pre-existing equipment within the lamp post. This would make the roll-out quicker, lower cost and more easily supported.

The demonstrator unit was a complicated spaghetti of wiring. The EV modules came with no wiring information, nor did the connectivity to the cloud portal.

The Approach

What did we do

We visited site to witness the system working before we started to take it apart. Unfortunately the demonstration didn’t go well, we later discovered there was a problem with the GPRS communications with the cloud server.

Being aware of Fabrikat’s time pressures, we pressed on with the project. Photographs of the installation were taken, we identified some of the required connectivity (using a multi-meter) and noted the modules that the demonstrator was using.

A Loud Bang!

We borrowed a lamp post door and a set of modules and set about wiring up a prototype that could be mounted within the door. A prototype was duly wired up, documented and powered up via an isolation transformer in our lab. The first time it powered up there was clearly something wrong as a loud bang was heard from the Mode 3 controller! A further visit to site revealed a power resistor was hidden in one of the live mains cables to the controller.

With this identified, the prototype was updated, together with its documentation. This time when powered on there was no loud bang (obviously we were using a spare controller), the output from the mains to dc power supply was on, the MID electricity meter was operating, and all looked good.

Communications with Fabrikat confirmed their GPRS modem had failed, so we identified sources to purchase a replacement. When the replacement arrived, we visited a final time to connect up the demonstrator to mains power and to an electric vehicle.

The final piece of the puzzle was to confirm that the identification of the charging point came from a serial number within the Mode 3 controller and the charger sprang into life.

The charger modules had been reconfigured from their standard DIN rail mounts to an arrangement requiring a custom DIN rail to fit within the lamp post door. To ensure that this was appropriate we used our thermal camera to verify that the temperature rise of the modules was acceptable. All was fine. Project documentation was then finalised, with the test results and communications knowledge, and sent to Fabrikat.

The Results

The connectivity and testing work undertaken has allowed Fabrikat to move to the next stage of their project: to create a custom lamp post door with mountings suitable for the modules in the finalised configuration.

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