|Corporate Social Responsibility|
|In 1996, Sumitomo Heavy Industries installed a STAR GLIDE walkway in a special - care nursing home, and this triggered a serious look at the possibilities of barrier - free modifications.
Most of the 50 residents of that facility were wheelchair users who previously had to use an elevator to get from their rooms on the second floor to the dining hall on the third. But the elevator could only hold two wheelchairs at a time, causing congestion at mealtimes and forcing many residents to wait several minutes before they could get into the dining hall.
To solve this problem, the home decided to install a sloping STAR GLIDE walkway, but its speed turned out to be a problem.
Typically, moving walkways are set to travel at 30 m/min, the same speed as escalators. This experience taught Sumitomo Heavy Industries that this was too fast for wheelchairs, as they had to come to a stop when getting on or off the walkway. Sumitomo Heavy Industries undertook repeated tests and concluded that the ideal speed for wheelchair use was 8 m/min.
Not only did the installation of the STAR GLIDE eliminate congestion, says Kojima, but it gave the residents more time to enjoy their meals at leisure.
The company carried out similar tests on walkways designed for the airport to allow people with visual impairments to get on and off smoothly, and incorporated the results in the final products, including adapting the handrails and placing LEDs at the ends of the walkways to make them more visible from an oblique angle.
So far, Sumitomo Heavy Industries has installed around 150 STAR GLIDE walkways, not only in airports and underpasses but also in event locations such as sports arenas and exhibition grounds, and on slopes, including multi - storeed parking lots, enabling safe travel not just for wheelchair users but also for children, the elderly, and pregnant women.
All people have to be able to use public facilities in the same way, explains Kojima. Were now working to incorporate this concept into our bids for the STAR GLIDE in railroad stations.
As part of its corporate social responsibility, Sumitomo Heavy Industries is committed to continuing its work to develop moving walkways that can be used by all.