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Case Study: How We Solved And Fixed Hibernation Issues With Okai ES400D

The 2022-2023 off-season in Finland marked the first year in which the swappable electric scooters of Bird, Okai ES400D, also known as the Bird S, were put into hibernation in Finland. A surprising issue arose when, post-hibernation, a significant proportion of the scooters failed to reactivate. This issue was universal to all ES400D scooters in Finland, and solving it became our challenge – a challenge that extended beyond just getting the scooters back on the streets.

Our history with the Bird S model, characterized by countless hours spent troubleshooting and problem-solving, has granted us unique expertise. Bird acknowledged our first-hand knowledge in resolving the problem with our fleet, resulting in a contract to work on a Bird S fleet in Espoo.

Our primary goal was to correctly identify and address the scooter issues using our “bricked battery” method – a unique process to open scooter with bricked batteries in minutes. Subsequently, we aimed to restore all identified scooters’ functionality, provide necessary training to the fleet manager for future issues, and present Bird with a comprehensive report of the entire consulting gig.

…The presence of un-diagnosed, seemingly un-repairable scooters in warehouses also affected the overall availability of Bird scooters in the cities of Espoo and Vantaa.

As we began to investigate the issue, we noticed that the ‘brains’ of the scooters were not active, signified by the absence of a pulse. When we attempted to charge these scooters, the charger responded with a green LED light, indicating that no power was being transmitted to the battery – a signal usually associated with a fully charged battery. This observation was confusing since the scooter’s brain, which is powered by the battery, was inactive. Therefore, to explore further, we decided to physically inspect the battery. However, opening the scooters through the app was impossible without power in the brain, leading us to devise a unique approach.

Our troubleshooting process resulted in the development of a methodology that we now call the ‘Bricked Battery Method.’ We will not delve into specific details about this method. However, if your fleet is encountering similar issues, we encourage you to get in touch with us. To sum it up, our innovative process can revive a bricked battery scooter and make it ready for deployment in less than 5 minutes.

Our investigations indicated that the main reason behind bricked batteries was the scooters not being charged during the hibernation period. When a battery stays disconnected from power for too long, it enters a ‘sleep’ mode and requires a direct power source to revive. This condition of batteries losing power during hibernation can occur due to various factors such as human errors (like fleet managers overlooking some scooters during charging), intentional neglect, or malfunctioning charging ports.

Our original mechanical fix, taking only about 5 minutes per scooter, resolved the bricked battery issue in over a hundred scooters. This 100% effective fix, however, unearthed further problems in other parts like the power control unit – the subject of another future case study.

Our experience revealed the importance of proper action before and during scooter hibernation. Before hibernation, all scooters with broken charging ports should be identified and fixed. During hibernation, attention should be given to the LED lights on the chargers. A green light after plugging in should raise concerns as the scooter battery cannot be full. Mark these scooters and, if not fixable during hibernation, address them as soon as the season ends. A proactive approach will mitigate the risks of hibernation issues in the future.

Conclusively, our journey in solving the hibernation issues of the Okai ES400D scooters has provided valuable insights and has carved a path towards improved micromobility. With continuous learning and adaptation, we are confident in overcoming any upcoming challenges and ensuring victories in the micromobility world – that’s what we call, catching another “Dub”.

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