OPEX for Shared Mobility

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Spin: Don’t Fix Processes But Solve Problems

October 29, 2021 | Reading time: 4 min

Spin is a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company and a micro mobility provider in many cities around North America and Europe. In this interview, Hendrik Buechner, country manager for Germany, talks about how Operational Excellence is viewed and implemented in everyday work at Spin. One of many interesting findings is that they distinguish between simply fixing processes and finding real solutions - with the latter being the more durable and excellent choice.

When you strive for process optimization, which business area is the one you focus on most and what is your purpose there?

As a Country Manager I am involved in many aspects of the business. However, the main focus of myself and Spin is on Operations. We earn our money by supplying vehicles at the right time, in the right place, for the right price. The processes involved in making sure we get the vehicles to those places and those people are often more complicated than one might think. I spend a lot of time understanding and improving the processes that arise from repairing, maintaining, delivering, collecting, charging, and recycling our vehicles.

My goal here is simply to have the most efficient operations possible. Achieving efficiency in operations however is a combination of achieving efficiency in many workflows that inevitably lead to the best service for the customer. These processes and workflows include, but are not limited to:

  • The right hiring and training to foster a workforce with a high degree of independence and skill; 
  • Understanding our customer needs through surveys and movement data; 
  • Finding the use cases under which certain vehicle parts break in order to avoid or anticipate those cases rather than just improving the repair process. 

Learn From Experts of the Shared Mobility Industry

Are you interested in how Operational Excellence is understood and practiced elsewhere? As part of the MOQO Summit 2021, we surveyed speakers and workshop leaders about Operational Excellence in their companies. You can find the results here.

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Central Process and Optimization Topics

Focus Topics when having a kickscooter sharing
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Is there a reason why you do not simply improve the repair process but instead identify the causal use cases?

At Spin, Operational Excellence is the practice of finding solutions and solving problems rather than fixing processes. We understand the difference between solving a problem and fixing a process as one of longevity and durability as well as flexibility.

A fix is not necessarily the best solution to a problem. It can make something broken work again but a fix does not guarantee an understanding of the root cause and therefore leaves the possibility of the same or a very similar issue arising in the future.

Finding a solution and solving a problem is much deeper. It means getting to the bottom of the problem, the root cause and finding a solution that will ensure that a similar issue will not arise again.

Why is this difference especially important in the mobility industry?

Spin is a micro mobility provider in a fast-paced, competitive environment. We need to be able to react to customer preferences, technological advances, new regulation and competitor moves quickly and efficiently. We do not have the resources to spend time on fixing things over and over again or getting to a point where we have “fixed” processes so many times that the process itself is not capable of dealing with change anymore - rendering us inflexible and slow. Whenever we create a new process or review a current one, we need to understand any friction and anticipate future requirements to make sure that we can run as efficiently as possible.

How do you ensure the achievement of Operational Excellence?

Everyone at Spin bears the responsibility to achieve Operational Excellence within their own processes and responsibilities. However, we do also have centralised roles within Operations and other parts of the business that ensure any improvements found in OPEX in one market are adopted (if possible and feasible) in all other markets.

In addition, we use a variety of tools from route optimisation or deployment optimisation technical tools to simple tools that measure the time it takes to perform parts of certain tasks. For example, we use Zoba for deployment optimisation or our own spare parts tracking software to efficiently order spare parts.

What does the monitoring process regarding process performance and Operational Excellence look like at Spin?

General performance is measured almost on a daily basis. If it is indicated that there is a need for improvements, these are implemented by tasking a person to find the root cause for any inefficiencies and present a set of possible improvements.

Moreover, we use SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely) Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure our Operational Excellence. An example is the number of actions performed per shift.

SMART method

The term SMART is an acronym for:


Specify your goal so you can focus on it.


Define concrete criteria for measuring progress towards attending your goal.


Look for goals that you can achieve. If it’s too difficult or beyond your capabilities it will only stress your ressources without delivering any value.


Your goal should support to you, your team and your organization’s needs

Time Bound

Set a timeline to work on fulfilling your goal. Commit to deadlines that help your team focus their efforts.

SMART Prozess and Method English

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

In order to evaluate the success or failure of a company over time, the regular measurement of sensibly selected key figures (indicators) can be helpful.

These then help to identify the need for action, to act accordingly and to assess the effect of measures taken in retrospect.

KPI Parameter Monitoring

Are you basically satisfied with your current Operational Excellence?

There will always be ways to improve OPEX in all aspects of the business. Arguably improving the availability of our vehicles is one of the most important and one of the most impactful improvements that can be made. This could be done through better routing, rebalancing, larger battery capacities, smaller operational areas, docked parking etc. However, availability only makes sense where and when customers really need vehicles. So, we need to optimise within those boundaries.

Speaking about customers’ needs, how do you learn about these?

We conduct a range of long and short surveys. Some are very market specific, some are global. We ask riders to give feedback after each ride but we also look at the most common complaints that our customer support receives. It is the combination of the feedback from all three aspects (after-ride feedback, survey answers and customer complaints) that enables us to develop a clearer picture of who our riders are and what they need.

In your eyes, what are the main success and key factors for Operational Excellence in general and especially in Shared Mobility?

Generally speaking, Operational Excellence can only be achieved if different departments and different people work together. Processes can hardly be made efficient through just one person alone. So, one key success factor for OPEX is good communication. Fostering a culture where teams talk openly about inefficiencies, mistakes and issues is the key to Operational Excellence.

In terms of Shared Mobility Providers, workforce efficiency is one of the most important points. For micro mobility companies like us, increasing labour efficiency around any actions involving the supply of charged vehicles to the right place will be a key factor.

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About Spin

Spin was founded in 2017 in San Francisco, USA, and has been an independent part of Ford Motor Company since the end of 2018. By now operating in six countries in North America and Europe, Spin is developing smart Mobility Concepts to improve local transportation within cities and university campuses. The company is focussing on micro mobility and offers a sustainable mobility mix including kickscooters and e-bikes.

Learn more about OPEX

and why it is crucial for Shared Mobility providers