Understanding The Design Of Bixi Bike Commerce Essay

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According to the case study, Bixi is a blend of practicality and aesthetics which was created from a clean sheet. Bixi, combinational of two words-'bicycle and taxi' was designed by world renowned industrial designer Michel Dallaire. The Bixi bike system is consisted of technical platforms, bike docks, bikes, pay stations and backdoor software. Being made of aluminium the bike is too light (20 kilograms). One of the distinguishing features of this system is, the entire system is solar powered and it doesn't need any permanent bolting that helps to remove and move the system easily from one place to another. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is another distinguishing feature that helps the system to track the user who uses the bike through its powerful RFID tags.

BIXI'S all the features are listed below:



It's got aluminium frame which is light , strong and durable

It has one-piece handlebar that covers and protects all the components

Bixi's Chain protector integrated into bike structure that protects the chain

and Prevents riders clothing from getting wedged in the chain

It also protects riders against dirt, grease.

It increases structural integrity of entire frame



It has Active lighting - front and back, which is always on

Front and rear internal brakes makes the rider more safety

The adjustable seat positioning - standardized through entire fleet of bikes.

This is suitable for wide range of riders

The system got Low centre of gravity for greater stability

And finally the tires - made for the urban jungle and it's got Nitrogen in it that normally takes more time to leak out.


Bixi is a public bike sharing system which was launched in May 2009 in Montreal, Canada. In Montreal the BIXI system already provided 3000 bikes and 300 dock stations which are located around the Montreal's city. According to the case study, the dock station for the bike was set up based on the density of the area. The 3000 bikes with around 300 stations are in the three boroughs of Rosement which are La Pattie-Patrie, Le Plateau Mont- Royal and Ville-Marie. At the same time in the areas of Outremont and the Sud-Ouest, there are some dock stations. According to Stationnement de Montreal , each dock station distance from another one 300 meters on an average. Most of the dock stations are located near the train station, university, college and near the shopping mall. Some example of station locations are at below:

Station at Phillips Square,Station at the corner of President- Kennedy and University Streets, Station at the corner of University Street and Maisonneuve Boulevard and Station at Mont- Royal Metro station.


The word ''Layout'' is considered the total process through which a user can access the product in a hassle free and easy way. In the context of Bixi bike system, Layout means the customer's journey from the pay till return back. In a sentence, it can be said that, people come to the dock stations, hire bikes, ride it and then return back to the dock stations mean the layout of the project. At that time it is a good layout when it seems that the system could used by all kinds of customer in an easy way.

In a dock station, at least two or more technical platform was established for easy access for people and to avoid rush in a busy hour. A ''Pay As You go'' pay station was set up in a platform. Payment facility was available in the station for bike rental and parking space rental for other vehicles parking. The system accepts payment through bike pass, Canadian cash, and credit card. Canadian cash was accepted only for parking. A printed ticket was delivered for the proof of payment where it showed the time of expiry. The user could pay in any pay station in the sector where he parked and need not return the vehicle to show the ticket.

In the ticket, the terminal generated a three digit number which was required to enter through a touch screen keypad by the user. The system unlocked the bike just after entering the three digit code. When the bike was taken out the reader linked the bike details and the user details by automated system

After using, the user should return the bike to any dock station which he preferred. I this time reader again awakened and enter new details of the dock station where the bike is placed.

It is a great layout of the Bixi bike system because the whole process goes through in a kind of controlled way. For example, People, whoever hires the bike, they pay charges, ride it and put it back to the right place. On the other hand they have got some challenges like theft and vandalism that's why they need to be more concern about such challenges for improvement of their service.

Supply Chain:

The authority, Stationnement De Montreal, worked with renowned industrial designer, Michel Dallaire, to design the bike which was unique. 8D Technology, the IT Company supplied all of the integrated software for the system. Earlier, Stationnement De Montreal team researched for the effective places to set up dock stations. Even they researched different popular public bike system to gather information to set up their objectives.

In the Bixi bike system, Stationnement de Montreal outsourced a company named ''Cycles De Vinci'' who was asked to make the bike for the project. Bixi, Montreal bike's supply chain could be following model;

The manufacturer, "cycle de Vinci" purchase raw materials such as aluminium, rubber and tools from three different suppliers. The manufacturing company ''Cycles De Vinci'' produces the bikes with the specific design and delivers to the mother organization ''Stationnement De Montreal''. The project authority established the dock station and placed the bikes into the specific dock station. The user then easily get access the bikes from their nearest and preferred dock station.

Outsourcing is good for a business (for example, it is time consuming, cheaper, less hassle) but to maintain the quality bixi could design and manufacture its bikes itself because bixi's materials are unique and another big issue is security. Supply chain activity will work through if demand of the bike doesn't fall down. Well, the demand of the bike might fluctuate but it cannot be under demanded. If one element of supply chains doesn't work properly, the total system will be disappeared.


Scheduling in Bixi Bike system relates how many hours of the day the bike is available, the pick hour of the day and how many months' bikes are available for sharing in a year.

Actually the system was operated in seven months, between mid April and mid November in a year. Because of bad weather in the winter, the dock station and the infrastructure was removed because it was almost impossible to run the system in the bad or foggy weather.








BIXI public bike sharing Operation Strategy:

The BIXI public bike sharing provides an example of operation strategy along with its consistent development over time. The BIXI public bike sharing system was designed looking at reducing air pollution, traffic congestion. As Bixi bike doesn't produce any emissions that the fuel powered vehicles are producing. It has been asked in the question to come up an Operation strategy for BIXI Public Bike sharing scheme that ties up with Schroeder (2010) operation strategy model and Slack et el (2010) operation strategy model.

Figure: 1.1 Schroeder (2010)

Operation strategy model

Operation strategy

Functional strategies in

Marketing, finance,


Human resources, and

Information systems




Objectives (Cost, Quality, Flexibility and delivery)

Strategic Decision (Process, Quality, Capacity and Inventory)

Looking at figure 1.1, According to Schroeder (2010) model, an organization is consisted of different departments. They are marketing, human resources, sales, finance, and engineer and information technology department. Each department has different functions in the organization. But for running the organization all the departments have to come together along with the operation manager. That helps a company to set up its corporate strategy and business strategy. They also help the company to run according to its mission. At the same time it also assist the company to choose its distinctive competence and objectives and making up company's strategic decision.

Schroeder (2010) model in Bixi:

Like other successful businesses operation strategy BIXI Public bike sharing scheme got its own mission, objectives, strategic decisions and the distinctive competence.

According to the case study, Bixi public bike sharing is a government project in a government department where the government could be corporate strategy. Then the business strategy could be the transport division. BIXI is one project in the transport division. In the BIXI Public bike sharing, Bixi has a mission. The mission is to provide a unique service transformation system and a supply chain that would provide a healthy transportation system in accordance with promises made to customers and the ability to give a response in accordance with customers demand at a lower price.

Every business has specific strategy as like as BIXI bike has with considering to cost, quality, capacity and service. According to Allain Ayotte the Executive vice president of Stationnement de Montreal, Bixi is "not a mercantile project- it's a social project." It doesn't want to do any profit, it just charge the customers a little amount of money only for the bike maintenance. For instance, the first half an hour is free, second half an hour C$1.5 and so on. As part of Bixi's objective, it always looks at the quality of the system, the flexibility and the availability of the bikes. The customers want to know how flexible the system is, and the availability of the bikes. Obviously the customers would not wait for the bike half an hour; they want the bike on time. Bixi's online checker makes it easy for customers to check the availability of the bikes and 3000 bikes ensure the availability of the bikes.

According to Schroeder (2010) model, Bixi's strategic decisions are made in each of the four groups of operations decisions (process, quality, capacity and inventory). The process of Bixi public bike sharing is designed with specific equipment and flows to ensure that the Montreal's local people get the bike at the right time at the right place. The case study shows to provide great customer service and great quality, Staitionnement de Montreal looks at call centre management, subscriber management, automated and call routing, and information management via their website. The case study also shows, Montreal is a market where bike is a popular transport and it is more popular because of 3000 BIXI bike at 300 dock stations in Montreal now, for the local people, local students, in a word for Montreal's community. This is the capacity of BIXI bike, which are available for the Montreal's people. When Staitionnement de Montreal looks at its capacity they look the number of bikes are needed for pick and off pick time, how many bikes needed in busy areas, how many in a less crowdy areas. Then they run that number of bikes on the road looking at the number of total customers using the bike.

The fourth element for the BIXI public bike sharing operation strategy is the distinctive competence which distinguishes the programme from the other public bikes sharing running in some other countries. The system uses the cutting edge technology. The entire system is solar powered that doesn't need any permanent bolting. The Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) enables the system to track the bike and reduce bike theft and vandalism. These all are the distinctive competences for Bixi public bike sharing system.

In BIXI the other cross functional groups working together effectively with the Operation manager. Because the case study shows, the IT people track the bike user's details and trace the thief if the bike is stolen. The Engineer is responsible for maintenance of the system if any defect with the bike or with the system. Although Bixi doesn't do any marketing but before launching the system successfully, Bixi did some marketing just to know people interest about the system. It introduced 40 bikes in four different places in Montreal city. So these are the all cross functional departments come along with the operation manager in BIXI bike system to run the system successfully. That led the system to meet up its mission, objectives, business strategy and operation strategy.


Slack et el (2010) operation strategy model in BIXI:


Figure: 1.2

Operations strategy

Source: Slack et el (2010) operation strategy model

In Slack et el (2010) operation strategy model theory, there are four types of operation strategy. They are top-down strategy (what business wants to do), bottom-up strategy (what day to day experience suggests operations should do), market led strategy (what the market position requires operations to do) and operations led strategy (what operations resources can do). In Bixi bike the operation was like a set of schemes for the operation manager that led to top-down strategy.

According to Slack et el (2010), The top-down strategy is an operation strategy in which the operation strategy derived from and is supportive of the organizations business strategy, in that strategy the organisation realizes its business strategy. Then this business strategy led to the business the operation task. For example, if for BIXI bike the business strategy is offering the low prices. Then the operation's task should be achieving low costs in operation and then offer the bikes at a low price which is being done by BIXI. For instance, the first half an hour is free, then the second half an hour is C$1.5, for the whole day C$5 and so on.

If the business strategy for BIXI bike is based on offering the bikes whenever customers want, then the operation task would be to ensure the bikes are at right place at the right time. In Montreal, BIXI has 3000 bikes and 300 dock stations only to make sure the customers get the bike on time.

Similarly, all the functions in the Montreal BIXI bike sharing, are working smoothly that makes the whole system innovative. For example, the bike, the technical platform, the pay station, the bike dock and the backroom software are the components of entire package that makes the bike distinguishing from any kind of bikes and these functions organize themselves to support the business objectives. Some major activities that part of the different functions under Bixi operations are below in the boxes that are working with a great efficiency.

Station Installation

System start-up

Station Maintenance

Bike docks

Pay stations

Technical platforms

Solar power system

Bike maintenance

Daily maintenance

Minor repairs on site

Major repairs at workshop

Software Maintenance

Source: "The Public Bike System, Hello- Our Wheels Your Freedom,"

However at present, Bixi needs to come up with the Bottom- up strategy. Because As the operation manager of Bixi, he needs to respond to customers demand, seeking problem solutions and copy good practices in other organization although BIXI did from looking at previous this kind of programme(Velib). But still lots of demand will be arising from customers. People want to see the BIXI not for a particular city; they would like to see BIXI for the whole Canada. People from one city will be able to ride the bike with the same membership card. BIXI needs to respond to all and that led to lots of decisions. In this kind of strategy, operation manager needs to take some actions. This operation goes through in a continuous improvement of series of work rather than finish everything at a time that needs a big investment. Bixi needs to stand in the customer shoes and think itself a customer. Then need to listen to the customers, what customers want. According to customer expectation BIXI needs to set up its operation strategy although BIXI has done a great job so far.