Between 2008 and 2013 a Segway Personal Transporter (PT) was responsible for delivering internal mail, medical files, documents, X-Rays and other vital materials to the far corners of Auckland Hospital’s sprawling campus in Grafton, Auckland. Staff from Converga (a division of NZ Post) were able to deliver mail 300% faster, on a route that took in all of the hospital’s outer buildings.
This Segway PT clocked up 7,026 km (4,366 miles) over almost five years on the job. Apart from replacing worn tyres, this Segway PT never skipped a beat or required any further servicing – a testament to the quality of engineering.
As you would expect from a vehicle designed from the ground up to be safe and convenient in dense pedestrian spaces, there were zero incidents: Segway PT – proven safe for use in New Zealand’s busiest hospital.
Technology and systems march forward, however. While the Segway PT was ahead of its time, the bell was tolling for old fashioned mail. Eventually the Segway PT’s mail route became obsolete. Paperwork disappeared as documents were digitised. The Segway PT was retired in 2013 when Converga’s contract came to an end. Today, this machine is owned by a Segway Tour business where it is used for daily excursions carrying tourists rather than letters.
“Cover more ground. Be more productive. Move more intelligently” was one of the slogans used to launch the Segway PT in 2002. All of these benefits were proved in spades at Auckland Hospital. Reprinted below is the content from our 2009 Case Study championing the spectacular success of this deployment of a Segway PT:
AUCKLAND HOSPITAL DELIVERS INTERNAL MAIL 300% FASTER
The quicker medical mail is delivered, the sooner doctors and medical professionals can act. So an efficient mail delivery operation at Auckland Hospital is an essential service on which the lives and well-being of thousands of people depend every day. If new technology can speed up mail delivery then its impact can make a real difference.
Converga (a division of Datamail Ltd, owned by New Zealand Post) contract to New Zealand’s largest hospital to receive, sort and deliver external (postal) mail along with internal mail being sent between departments.
Operations Manager Chris Boyce was hoping for a noticeable benefit when Converga introduced a Segway PT to their outdoors round in November 2008. What he wasn’t expecting was such a spectacular improvement in the quality of service they provide to Auckland Hospital.
Three times faster mail delivery
“The old mail run took about an hour on foot. Using our Segway PT it takes 20 minutes, tops. That’s a 300% increase in efficiency, and that is only part of the story – it gets even better…” he says.
“We used to do three rounds per day – morning, midday and afternoon, taking 3 hours in total. Now we do six or even seven rounds per day, taking only 90 minutes in total. Let me explain why that’s a really significant improvement. Firstly, on each round hospital staff are getting their mail up to 40 minutes sooner than before, so they can act on results faster.”
Double the mail runs in half the time
“Secondly, we’ve at least doubled the number of internal times mail is getting picked up and delivered every day, so in some cases mail gets to where its going 2 or 3 hours quicker than before.”
“Thirdly, one of our staff has saved 90 minutes of time per day. This is time he can spend in the mail room helping with sorting, taking the pressure off our other staff. And that makes everyone on the team happier.”
“And fourthly, doing the outside mail run has gone from being the most disliked job to being the favourite job. The outside run was 2km of walking to 7 different buildings, located all around the perimeter of the site, up and down some pretty steep hills carrying mail in a shoulder bag. It wasn’t much fun, and no one liked doing it. On the Segway PT the mail is carried in waterproof, lockable side cases, and the PT has no trouble gliding up even the steepest hills.”
Urgent mail response times slashed
In addition to scheduled mail runs, Converga is responsible for collecting and delivering urgent mail on demand, anywhere on site. Using the Segway PT, response and completion times have been slashed from 10-to-15 minutes down to just a few minutes.
“The Segway PT has been so successful on the outside run that now we’re looking at using more PTs on the inside routes. Because the outside route already includes some internal riding through buildings and up and down inside lifts (elevators), we already know how easily the PT navigates corridors filled with people, gurneys and other equipment.”
How it happened
Building on two years of mail delivery success using Segway PTs at the University of Canterbury, Segway New Zealand approached Converga’s General Manager Grant McKenzie. Auckland Hospital was identified as the first site for a practical demonstration, not only to Converga staff but also to Auckland District Health Board hospital management. They wanted to be sure that the Segway PT was going to be a safe and appropriate solution to operate on the grounds of New Zealand’s busiest hospital. As soon as they saw the Segway PT in operation, observed its active safety features and small footprint, they were convinced it was well-suited. Segway New Zealand provided all of the independent safety studies that had been completed by agencies and governments worldwide that concluded the Segway PT is safe for use in busy pedestrian spaces. Also provided was a Health & Safety Program (rules of operation) template that Converga could easily adapt for use at this specific site.
Operations Support Manager Mike Dunshea selected a white Segway i2 complete with a Front Bag and a pair of side Cargo Cases fitted over the fenders. The PT has built-in reflectivity on the front, sides and rear, and Segway NZ suggested adding additional SEGWAY reflectivity to the LeanSteer Frame and on the rear battery to maximise visibility (and to also answer questioning looks from any passer-bys who’ve never seen a Segway PT before).
Introducing the PT to the workplace
To introduce this new technology to the workplace, Segway New Zealand offered a PT for a trial period of several days. On the first day staff were trained to ride, then supervised while riding the delivery route so they could be shown how best to complete it efficiently.
Concludes Boyce: “The Chief Executive of the hospital is really impressed with what we’ve achieved simply by introducing a single Segway PT into our operation. We operate here under a contract, and it comes up for tender regularly. The PT has improved the quality of the service we’re delivering, and reduced our costs too. So it’s helped strengthen and secure our business for the future. Based on our success here I’m sure Converga will introduce PTs at many of our other sites too.”