Behind the scenes of Noord: the workshop edition

It is safe to say that the workshop is the beating heart of Noord. Every day, around 35 devoted colleagues work on the optimization of the e-bikes of Noord. While they sing along with the music in the background, they repair damaged e-bikes, perform quality checks and come up with innovative ideas on recycling. At this location in Amsterdam Sloterdijk, Jerry Toen (Chief Operating Officer) shows us around and tells us about the daily business.


The dynamics of the workshop

Jerry: “There is always something happening here. Every day, we receive bikes that must be checked from A to Z. We check for damages and which parts need to be replaced or refurbished. Based on this, we divide the bikes into smaller sections so they immediately go to the right department. Then, the bikes are being repaired, cleaned and prepared to get back on the road.”


Besides reparations, recycling is also an important part of the process. “We strive to recycle as many parts as possible. That is why we constantly check if replacement is actually necessary, or if reparation should suffice. If we are not able to repair something, we try to use that specific part for something else. But in this context, offering the highest quality and best driving experience are always first priority.”


In order to reuse parts and elements, Jerry and his colleagues developed dedicated workstations at the workshop. Jerry: “A while ago, we set up a workstation dedicated to repairing wheels. We notice that replacement is often redundant, providing that you have the right skills to repair it. At this workstation we true wheels, tighten spokes and check the tire pressure so the wheels can be used again. These small things are super important, as they could affect the driving experience and the lifespan of a wheel. Next to this station, we set up a department for battery safety and another one for electronics. We try to do as many activities in-house.”


Room for talent development

In-house reparations and recycling demands a lot of knowledge and expertise. In order to realize all this, Noord developed an internal training program. “Educating our employees is very important to us. We encourage our mechanics to use the governmental subsidy scheme (STAP-budget) for personal growth and education, or to work and learn at our workplace.” In practice, this means experienced mechanics are matched to less-experienced mechanics. Jerry: “Thanks to this buddy system, all areas of expertise are covered with enough seniority and our colleagues improve each other’s knowledge and skills. This also leads to strong co-operation between our mechanics.”

At the workplace of Noord, they believe in the power of on-the-job training. Jerry: “We don’t expect someone to have years of experience. Instead, we focus on skills that they already have, what they like to do and what they want to learn. Besides, not every new colleague will become an allround mechanic. Some colleagues prefer a certain specialization, so we teach them everything they need to know about it. But no matter their levels and preferences, we keep on challenging them.”


A breeding ground for innovative ideas

According to Jerry, this ‘learning while working method’ not only leads to more job satisfaction, but also to innovative ideas – for example in the area of batteries. “The battery is one of the most important parts of the bike,” says Jerry. “We do everything in our power to ensure safety and extend the lifetime. Currently, we are automating the administrative processes of the batteries, so we can strive for the highest standards in terms of safety. ”


Customer demand as a first priority

Besides the optimization of the batteries, reparations and recycling activities, the workshop is a place where customer demands come to live. One example is the branded e-bike for the Dutch passenger railway operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen. Jerry: “Especially for NS, we adjusted our product to their wishes. By this I don’t only mean the change of colors, but also on a technical level.” Noord developed a GPS dashboard, which allows NS to get more insight into the way the e-bikes are being used. This way NS has more insight in how the e-bikes are being used by their clients and how they perform. “It is amazing to see that our clients truly rely on our advice and expertise when it comes to e-mobility,” tells Jerry. “In these collaborations, we put the customers’ needs first. In the case of NS, this came down to a sustainable expansion of their travel options. But this is just one example. By collaborating with large companies, we are able to have a huge positive impact on society.”


At Noord, making impact and further development is not limited to the product. “Of course, we are able to adapt to the demands of the market. But it is also important that our employees keep on developing and work on their personal growth. You could say that we basically use our mechanical skills on ourselves too.”