The stand-up, two-wheel Segway scooter might look like a toy or a novelty, but David Wilson sees it as a tool. The Segway "can be used to be more productive every day," Wilson...
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The stand-up, two-wheel Segway scooter might look like a toy or a novelty, but David Wilson sees it as a tool.
The Segway “can be used to be more productive every day,” Wilson said.
Because the devices can go about 12 mph, Wilson, a Segway dealer, said warehouse employees could use it to finish rounds faster. In factory settings, supervisors could cover more floor space and maintenance workers could get from repair to repair faster.
In many industrial workplaces, golf carts, forklifts and other devices handle such tasks.
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At Toyota’s 8.5-million-square-foot plant in Georgetown, Ky., for example, maintenance workers and supervisors use large tricycles, similar to the ones used by hot-dog vendors, to move from job to job.
Carl Kurz, facilities manager, said he has considered Segways because they are smaller and more maneuverable than the three-wheelers.
But Segways carry about 275 pounds, including the driver, and maintenance workers have to transport heavy tools and equipment that could overwhelm the electric scooters.
“We move a lot of heavier equipment around, and they weren’t quite capable of doing that,” Kurz said.
Other businesses have found Segways useful.
John Shake, manager of the 600-room Executive West Hotel near the Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center, bought a scooter several months ago that the hotel uses for security sweeps of its parking lot and for guest services such as running extra towels to a guest.
“We have a lot of space here, and when we get a call, it’s never from next door. It’s always on the other side of the building,” Shake said.
He said the Segway has cut the average response time for guest services about in half. Also, security sweeps of the parking lot can be conducted in about half the time, giving guards the opportunity to make sweeps twice as often.
Faster service means better customer service and, Shake hopes, more repeat business.
Still, putting a dollar value on having the Segway is difficult because better customer service does not necessarily mean more revenue.
Wilson, who also sells lighting supplies, said he can make a pure economic argument for Segways for industrial users.
The former industrial engineer sends a time study to potential buyers showing how long it should take the Segway to pay for itself in increased productivity.
For an $8-an-hour, two-shift job, it would take less than one year for a plant to recoup the Segway’s $4,000 price tag, assuming the employees who filled that job increase productivity by 10 percent with the device.