News

Powerdale recovers its unpaid invoices with TCM

Energy consumption and CO2 emissions reduction are central to climate worries.  TCM met with Powerdale’s Hugues Dhaeyer (CEO) et Stephan Atsou (Chief Sales & Marketing officer) to examine technical solutions for electro-mobility (E-mobility) and, as it happens, finances and unpaid invoices.

 

TCM: What does Powerdale offer?

Hughes: I launched the company in 2003 to address counting and time-counting solutions for the energy sector.  We grew up. In 2011 we started in the E-mobility sector by developing charging stations and their management platforms. This includes various aspects such as indemnifying employees who charge their car at home or managing a fleet with pay cards in public charging stations. The company employs currently 25 people and about 5 additional external contributors.  Our turnover evolved to 80% in E-mobility where only 20% still relates to energy counting solutions, our initial service.

 

TCM: Who are Powerdale’s clients?

Hughes: It’s a good mix with essentially B2B including largish companies (Belgian’s Top 5000). For instance, we work with Swift and Atos. Ores and Sibelga are also clients for network management.  We won a public procurement for Chargy, who operate a charging stations network on all non-motorway roads in the G.D. of Luxembourg.

 

TCM: Where are you currently active, geographically speaking?

Hughes: Essentially Benelux … at the moment (laughs).

 

TCM: What makes you think that your products/services meet your clients’ needs?

Stephan: I think that I should answer this one because I am relatively new at Powerdale and discussed it repeatedly with clients.  What struck me first is the complementarity of Powerdale’s historic Energy Management and its more recent move to E-mobility.  Funnily enough, both can be acronymized as “EM”, what leads to our logo “EM²”.  This dual competence reassures clients.  In fact, it is not that complex to build a charging station. Making 10 of them is a bit less easy. And having them to work in a network is quite intricate, especially when this network must integrate a bigger network where energy consumed by various applications are to be metered. Powerdale can handle 50 such charging stations inserted in 3 different locations with two network administrators (1 in Flanders, 1 in Wallonie) and a micro-network in each location to handle energy supply. If you have 10 cars charging, then 20 of them, the consumption rises significantly.  However, not all cars have same timing to full charge and even more, not all drivers require maximum charge (some have 10 km to home, others have 200 km to destination, etc.). These requirements need be managed and energy consumption need be optimized which requires an intelligence that Powerdale developed since the inception of the company, long before moving to E-mobility itself.

Hughes: The Luxembourg procurement that we won in 2016 brought us volume and boosted our notoriety. This helped us clearly as well.

Stephan: And another strength is that Powerdale owns the technology developed. We’re not just a consultant or a retailer. Producing the solutions integrates three resources:

  • Information Technology
  • Electronics
  • Civil Engineering

These three competences work together at Powerdale.

 

TCM: Did you notice an evolution in mentalities towards electrical vehicles?

Hughes: Having been present in this environment for years, we did indeed notice quite some changes. In the early days, we faced opposition related to profitability for buyers of electrical vehicles.  And indeed, some parties suggested for us to twist some figures to end up with positive results. Nowadays, climate issues are pressing. We hear that there is a shortage of proposals on the electrical vehicle market. Let’s be honest: some clients just need to boost the green side of their image, but many others genuinely strive to improve their footprint, including a drastic reduction on their CO2 emissions. A standard goal is for instance to have 20% of the fleet composed of electric vehicles.

 

TCM: When did this change surface?

Hughes: About 3-4 years ago.  Before 2015, it was more effortful to convince people.

Stephan: There is an acknowledgement, even an awareness of both companies and private persons about climate related issues. Electric cars are now on the road, with autonomies exceeding 200 km for standard ‘full electric’ models. However, two factors remain difficult:

  • Disinformation
  • Resistance to change

For years, false facts and half trues have circulated, like “an electric car pollutes as much as a diesel one”. This concept is wrong.  It has been demonstrated in Belgium that E-cars pollute up to 4 times less than a combustion engine.  This integrates the whole production, life and disposal of the vehicle. And things improve so as battery recycling and other aspects. On the cost side, people also forget the nice 2nd hand value of an electrical car and the reduced maintenance cost as compared to a heat motor.  These false perceptions harm our industry.

Then there is resistance to change; which is our nature. Change requires efforts, leadership and investment. It also requires other conditions which imply that not everyone can shift overnight to an E-car. One issue is that not every corner is equipped with a charging station.

Hughes: Not yet (laughs)

Stephan:  And it’s in fact better to move gradually rather than to be confronted with the problems inevitably caused by an abrupt revolution. Like delivery problems to start with.

 

TCM: Regarding your invoicing, how do you ensure transparency?

Hughes: Invoices are quite informative. This is particularly important and valid for the recovery of electricity consumption charge. The client’s invoice includes an annex that lists all charging sessions with location and duration. The kwh price is known. There is hardly any discussion on those. And these are the invoices we sometimes require you, TCM, to collect.

 

TCM: For clients with large vehicle fleets, is it manageable?

Our invoicing is not per vehicle but per card. The card that a user badges into the system to load his vehicle.

 

TCM: How do you handle unpaid invoices?

Hughes: It is a problem as it raises our capital requirement. It’s no secret that too big a share, between 15% and 20% of our invoices remain unpaid by due date. However, we don’t let it last without reaction. And if there is a valid problem, we follow up quickly because the chances to book the payment reduce when our reaction is delayed.

 

TCM: Why do you work with TCM for unpaid invoices?

Hughes & Stephan:

  • The proposal was clear: A TCM sales explained quite transparently and then read his proposed contract with us. Provisions were crystal clear. We entrusted a few first claims and I was in contact with a TCM manager who is my personal contact. She keeps me up to date with results and possible issues. All quite fluent.
  • The TCM app: We had already been working with TCM for a while when we were invited to use a new information and exchange application. We can access it 24/7 and it works perfectly. It’s efficient.
  • Ease of use: I can easily find incoming and outgoing messages back. I can filter per client etc. In the end, I transfer information to bookkeeping and it’s all done.
  • On site visits: This is an exceptional advantage. It provides real information on our client and his/her intentions. We have for instance had clients who had left the address they’d given us and, in some instances, it’s clearly a fraud. By the way, I was surprised to learn that your visitors are mainly women and not big and heavy chaps as one might imagine. Your visitors are friendly and make doors open and the conversations that entail seem constructive, as I can conclude from the results.

 

TCM: Are you happy with the TCM service?

Hughes: Yes, for sure. What I also appreciate is that we’re free to choose the claims we entrust. We’re not bound in any way to go through your services. (And we see many other providers who require some kind of exclusivity or commitment.) TCM takes what we select; and I must admit you mainly get the difficult cases. I acknowledge that you are cost-effective. And that is why I already recommended your services to other people.

Powerdale recovers its unpaid invoices with TCM

Energy consumption and CO2 emissions reduction are central to climate worries.  TCM met with Powerdale’s Hugues Dhaeyer (CEO) et Stephan Atsou (Chief Sales & Marketing officer) to examine technical solutions for electro-mobility (E-mobility) and, as it happens, finances and unpaid invoices.

 

TCM: What does Powerdale offer?

 

Hughes: I launched the company in 2003 to address counting and time-counting solutions for the energy sector.  We grew up. In 2011 we started in the E-mobility sector by developing charging stations and their management platforms. This includes various aspects such as indemnifying employees who charge their car at home or managing a fleet with pay cards in public charging stations. The company employs currently 25 people and about 5 additional external contributors.  Our turnover evolved to 80% in E-mobility where only 20% still relates to energy counting solutions, our initial service.

 

 

TCM: Who are Powerdale’s clients?

 

Hughes: It’s a good mix with essentially B2B including largish companies (Belgian’s Top 5000). For instance, we work with Swift and Atos. Ores and Sibelga are also clients for network management.  We won a public procurement for Chargy, who operate a charging stations network on all non-motorway roads in the G.D. of Luxembourg.

 

 

TCM: Where are you currently active, geographically speaking?

 

Hughes: Essentially Benelux … at the moment (laughs).

 

 

TCM: What makes you think that your products/services meet your clients’ needs?

 

Stephan: I think that I should answer this one because I am relatively new at Powerdale and discussed it repeatedly with clients.  What struck me first is the complementarity of Powerdale’s historic Energy Management and its more recent move to E-mobility.  Funnily enough, both can be acronymized as “EM”, what leads to our logo “EM²”.  This dual competence reassures clients.  In fact, it is not that complex to build a charging station. Making 10 of them is a bit less easy. And having them to work in a network is quite intricate, especially when this network must integrate a bigger network where energy consumed by various applications are to be metered. Powerdale can handle 50 such charging stations inserted in 3 different locations with two network administrators (1 in Flanders, 1 in Wallonie) and a micro-network in each location to handle energy supply. If you have 10 cars charging, then 20 of them, the consumption rises significantly.  However, not all cars have same timing to full charge and even more, not all drivers require maximum charge (some have 10 km to home, others have 200 km to destination, etc.). These requirements need be managed and energy consumption need be optimized which requires an intelligence that Powerdale developed since the inception of the company, long before moving to E-mobility itself.

Hughes: The Luxembourg procurement that we won in 2016 brought us volume and boosted our notoriety. This helped us clearly as well.

Stephan: And another strength is that Powerdale owns the technology developed. We’re not just a consultant or a retailer. Producing the solutions integrates three resources:

  • Information Technology
  • Electronics
  • Civil Engineering

These three competences work together at Powerdale.

 

 

TCM: Did you notice an evolution in mentalities towards electrical vehicles?

 

Hughes: Having been present in this environment for years, we did indeed notice quite some changes. In the early days, we faced opposition related to profitability for buyers of electrical vehicles.  And indeed, some parties suggested for us to twist some figures to end up with positive results. Nowadays, climate issues are pressing. We hear that there is a shortage of proposals on the electrical vehicle market. Let’s be honest: some clients just need to boost the green side of their image, but many others genuinely strive to improve their footprint, including a drastic reduction on their CO2 emissions. A standard goal is for instance to have 20% of the fleet composed of electric vehicles.

 

 

TCM: When did this change surface?

 

Hughes: About 3-4 years ago.  Before 2015, it was more effortful to convince people.

Stephan: There is an acknowledgement, even an awareness of both companies and private persons about climate related issues. Electric cars are now on the road, with autonomies exceeding 200 km for standard ‘full electric’ models. However, two factors remain difficult:

  • Disinformation
  • Resistance to change

For years, false facts and half trues have circulated, like “an electric car pollutes as much as a diesel one”. This concept is wrong.  It has been demonstrated in Belgium that E-cars pollute up to 4 times less than a combustion engine.  This integrates the whole production, life and disposal of the vehicle. And things improve so as battery recycling and other aspects. On the cost side, people also forget the nice 2nd hand value of an electrical car and the reduced maintenance cost as compared to a heat motor.  These false perceptions harm our industry.

Then there is resistance to change; which is our nature. Change requires efforts, leadership and investment. It also requires other conditions which imply that not everyone can shift overnight to an E-car. One issue is that not every corner is equipped with a charging station.

Hughes: Not yet (laughs)

Stephan:  And it’s in fact better to move gradually rather than to be confronted with the problems inevitably caused by an abrupt revolution. Like delivery problems to start with.

 

 

TCM: Regarding your invoicing, how do you ensure transparency?

 

Hughes: Invoices are quite informative. This is particularly important and valid for the recovery of electricity consumption charge. The client’s invoice includes an annex that lists all charging sessions with location and duration. The kwh price is known. There is hardly any discussion on those. And these are the invoices we sometimes require you, TCM, to collect.

 

 

TCM: For clients with large vehicle fleets, is it manageable?

 

Our invoicing is not per vehicle but per card. The card that a user badges into the system to load his vehicle.

 

 

TCM: How do you handle unpaid invoices?

 

Hughes: It is a problem as it raises our capital requirement. It’s no secret that too big a share, between 15% and 20% of our invoices remain unpaid by due date. However, we don’t let it last without reaction. And if there is a valid problem, we follow up quickly because the chances to book the payment reduce when our reaction is delayed.

 

 

TCM: Why do you work with TCM for unpaid invoices?

 

Hughes & Stephan:

  • The proposal was clear: A TCM sales explained quite transparently and then read his proposed contract with us. Provisions were crystal clear. We entrusted a few first claims and I was in contact with a TCM manager who is my personal contact. She keeps me up to date with results and possible issues. All quite fluent.
  • The TCM app: We had already been working with TCM for a while when we were invited to use a new information and exchange application. We can access it 24/7 and it works perfectly. It’s efficient.
  • Ease of use: I can easily find incoming and outgoing messages back. I can filter per client etc. In the end, I transfer information to bookkeeping and it’s all done.
  • On site visits: This is an exceptional advantage. It provides real information on our client and his/her intentions. We have for instance had clients who had left the address they’d given us and, in some instances, it’s clearly a fraud. By the way, I was surprised to learn that your visitors are mainly women and not big and heavy chaps as one might imagine. Your visitors are friendly and make doors open and the conversations that entail seem constructive, as I can conclude from the results.

 

 

TCM: Are you happy with the TCM service?

 

Hughes: Yes, for sure. What I also appreciate is that we’re free to choose the claims we entrust. We’re not bound in any way to go through your services. (And we see many other providers who require some kind of exclusivity or commitment.) TCM takes what we select; and I must admit you mainly get the difficult cases. I acknowledge that you are cost-effective. And that is why I already recommended your services to other people.

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