It’s early October as I write this, and colder weather is just around the corner. School is back in session, road trips are wrapping up for the year, and the 12-foot Halloween skeletons are back in stock at Home Depot.
I suspect that, of all those things, it will be road trips that will change the most by this time next year, thanks to the rapid and ongoing electrification of motor vehicles. A recent article by Andrew Moseman titled “Out Of Gas” caught my attention. In the article, Moseman outlines some of the significant changes he sees coming to service stations and the associated energy economy, suggesting that “the 2030s may look like a divided driving America in which the demand for gas slowly dwindles while gas stations have to figure out their place in the future.”
The first two changes on his list are somewhat self-evident. First, Moseman observes that public utilities generate the majority of power whereas private industry generates most of the gasoline. The implication is that a national conversation is looming about whether recharging our cars should be the domain of the public sphere. Imagine electrical utilities taking on giant automakers that are already building their own charging networks.
Second, federal incentives are focused more on large nationwide networks than on heavy urban areas. For example, the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program has set aside $5 billion to build out a national network, with the goal of building DC fast chargers every 50 miles and within 1 mile of designated Alternative Fuel Corridors (AFCs) for electric vehicles. This means you’ll see service stations change more quickly if you’re on a road trip than in the city.
This leads to the third change, which will take place primarily in urban environments: an EV charging depot simply does not have to look like a gas station. For example, in my neighborhood, a local bank branch built four electric vehicle charging stations in its under-used parking lot, turning a lack of post COVID in-person traffic into a revenue generator. In fact, Moseman thinks that any place people can kill 20 minutes or more while recharging their vehicle are ideal candidates for charging stations, such as restaurants and brick-and-mortar stores, not to mention your own driveway.
Shifting gears back to maintenance and operations, I was struck at the similar extent of change in industry since the advent of predictive maintenance. In this month’s Plant Services cover story, industry guru and ReliabilityX sherpa Ramesh Gulati describes the current state of PdM technology as “readily available, easy to use, and affordable” from vibration and ultrasound tools to motion amplification cameras and smart sensors. These tools are being applied across industry too, as Sheila Kennedy captures PdM success stories across eight different industrial sectors and in eight unique applications.
The PdM market is speaking just as loudly, projected to grow at a CAGR of 27.4% by 2028 against a positive but slower growth rate for the global MRO market of 2.3%. In this way, perhaps the PdM market is a crystal ball for the similarly extensive changes being wrought by electrification.