A Madison company whose products support gas pumps is looking to capitalize on the coming shift to electric vehicles.
Franklin Electric, whose products include submersible pumps, hoses and gauges used in filling stations, is launching a “smart” switchgear designed to support EV charging stations.
The product, known as NexPhase, is a way to bridge the gap between utility power supplies and the charging stations that EV owners visit to plug into their vehicles.
Marketed as a turnkey solution, NexPhase combines meters, transformers, circuit breakers and controls in a single cabinet that connects utility power to vehicle chargers. According to Franklin, that will streamline the design process, simplify installation and improve performance.
“We’re doing the infrastructure part,” said Mark Seitz, senior business unit manager for EV systems. “We’re not doing the chargers. We’re doing the stuff between the chargers and the utility ... We’re making it easy for these chargers to be built because we’re putting all the infrastructure in one cabinet.”
Seitz said the system was designed to support federal standards derived from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which will provide $5 billion over the next five years to help states and private businesses develop a national charging network. Wisconsin is in line to receive nearly $79 million if federal transportation officials approve the state’s plan.
In order to qualify for the funding, chargers must be able to support four high-speed connections simultaneously and be operational 97% of the time. A recent study by University of California-Berkeley researchers found more than one out of four California chargers was out of service.
Seitz said Franklin has incorporated technology from its grid monitoring product line to enable remote monitoring and controls to improve safety, save labor and reduce outages.
The company is now developing a solar-powered battery that can be paired with the system to reduce demand spikes that can result in expensive utility bills for commercial customers.
President Joe Biden wants electric vehicles to account for half of all sales by 2030. According to the Biden administration, the infrastructure act will put the nation on a path to having 500,000 charging stations to support that goal.
That’s a big opportunity for companies like Franklin Electric.
“It’s a white space right now,” said Jay Walsh, president of Franklin’s fueling systems division. “But it’s hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Headquartered in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Franklin Electric has about 450 employees at its Madison plant, where Seitz said most of the NexPhase assembly will be done.
Seitz said the company has added jobs to support the new product line and likely will add more depending on sales. He expects to ship the first cabinet next month.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, pointed to Franklin as an example of how the bill can benefit Wisconsin manufacturers while also combating climate change.
“This public and private charging investment will accelerate the adoption of EVs and will create good-paying jobs in manufacturing, in installation, and operation and maintenance,” Baldwin said during a visit to Franklin’s plant on Marsh Road. “Franklin Electric is a great example of a business that is paving the way for a greener future while creating jobs right here in Wisconsin.”
We are a leader in the manufacturing and distribution of systems to support the management and monitoring of critical assets. As an expert in both vehicle refueling and utility asset monitoring, we are committed to supporting the emerging EV charging market. Our turnkey solutions enable rapid deployment with intelligent monitoring to maximize charger operational uptime.