The Transport for London (TfL) Cycle Hire Scheme has rapidly become iconic on the Capital’s streets. This TfL mode of transport is often called the “Boris Bikes” as they were introduced by Boris Johnson’s mayoral administration in 2010. Its popularity has surpassed expectation with some 10,000,000 journeys a year, and rising. However, anyone who owns a bike will know they must be maintained and repaired. Heavy public use on a daily basis really takes its toll, and it is the challenge of Serco to keep the wheels turning in the capital.

This presents a problem: 11,500 bikes in 750 locations maintained in 2 depots by dozens of staff. Lots of factors affect the demand for service and repairs including usage, time of year, day of the week, etc. Similarly many factors affect their capacity to deliver repairs and services; sickness, holidays, performance rates, training, indirect work, to name a few. Getting the demand and capacity model wrong would leave too few bikes on the streets, impacting the London transport infrastructure and attracting penalties from TfL.

Serco turned to Vensis to help with this complex data problem, using Lean Data methodologies. With only 6 weeks straddling Christmas 2014 to complete the work, Vensis rose to the challenge and designed a bespoke database solution.

Firstly they delivered the ‘Analysis phase’ using complex spreadsheet programming – which predicted repairs and services and therefore, the capacity required to ensure Transport for London performance targets are met. The second phase involved building a live, multi-user database to enable the operations team to profile day-by-day demands and capacity requirements. This mapped individual performance targets and attendance to the predicted delivery capacity.

Kirsty Jewell, Operations Delivery Director, said “Vensis quickly got under the skin of our operation and produced a modelling tool that genuinely took into account the intricacies of a complex and often rapidly changing operating environment. In a very short space of time they’ve enabled us to hit the ground running in early 2015, and we can now address challenges the model is helping us foresee in a way that is dramatically improving our delivery.”

Like Serco, many businesses have the data in their business but converting it to useful information is a specialist project. The unique blend of business process knowledge and technical data skills means Vensis is perfectly positioned to resolve problems like this and add enormous value using the concept of Lean Data.