Asa Bertrand (Bert) Segur (born on May 24,1886 in Decatur, Adam county, Indiana, USA, to a millwright father and died on August 17, 1975 in Oak Park, Illinois, aged 89 years), was during his life a member of the Industrial Management Society. He passed the Decatur Common School on June 10th 1900 and passed the Decatur High School on May 20th 1904. He obtained his bachelors degree at Purdue University, Lafayetta, Indiana on June 10th 1908. As a bachelor in C.E. he started to work with the department of public works in Manilla on the Philippines. Later he obtained his master’s degree in civil engineering from Purdue on June 13th, 1911, and again travelled extensively throughout the world.
In 1908 on Purdue it was registered about him:
“A. Bertrand Segur, Angola, Ind., B.S. in C.E., YMCA (2) (3) (4), C.E. Society (3).
Not the worst scab, pretty much of a goat, lots of belief in his own importance, and the distinction of being the slouchiest man in the class. He wanted a job on the Panama Canal but the chief engineer was not ready to quit yet so they had nothing to offer a man of his exceptional (?) ability and qualifications. He will probably start in as a consulting engineer.”
And: “Bert Segur is going to the Philippines” - “Thank God !”
He obtained the highest rank but one in “Ye nobel order of the Goats”, viz. Grand Buttin
In 1908 he was a member of the Civil Engineering Society; the oldest club established in 1893.
He became chief engineer for Morgan Engineering Co. Memphis, Tennessee, a specialist in building dams and bridges, in 1911. From 1912 tot 1916, he was examinor of efficiency for the Chicago Civil Service Commission and in 1916-1917 he went back into industry as an engineer with the Johnson Chair Co. in Chicago. During these years he gained a lot of experience with stop watch time studies and method analyses. In 1917, Segur became engineer in charge of industrial surveys for the “Red Cross Institute for the Blind”. It was while in this capacity that he met and began to work in cooperation with Frank Gilbreth in planning motion paths to train the blind for jobs in industry.
In 1919 he founded the A.B. Segur and Company in Oak Park, Illinois and was active with the company for over half a century. In the 19-twenties he was connected again with the Purdue University.
Segur made the statement: “95 % of all trained workers if following the same method, will produce within 5 % of the same amount” summarized in Segur’s “Law of Motion-Time Analysis”. Another statement of Segur: “Within practical limits the times required of all expert workers to perform fundamental motions are constant.” He embarked on an extensive research study to substantiate his hypothesis.
Segur is the first to succeed in arranging the time values of the standard elements and to develop and construct a all embrasing system of predetermined times. Now, with this it is possible to value successive movements in time. He started his research already in 1919, brought the system to perfection in 1924, made it “available for consulting” in 1924, and completed the development of the system in 1925, the grand-daddy of all motion time systems. During the twenties and thirties Segur introduced his system, especially to the American industry. The system was told to be very complicated and would require much skill to use it. On the other hand, Barnes claimed that the system was very accurate and consistent. Segur published about his system in July 1926 under de name “Motion Time Analysis”, MTA. Segur stated correctly, that time study as combination of times and conditions was very hard to do, unless the 18 therbligs were used. Because of that relation with Gilbreth the motions elements of Segur’s system were more or less identical with Gilbreth’s 18 basic motions, by which the system adhered the same “problems and limitations”. (The work-factors, influencial factors of WORK-FACTOR, were not yet (fully) known and understood at that time.)
This MTA system was only available to “his” engineers on a consulting basis, however evidences and proofs to substantiate his data were never published. More than ten years to come analysts had to do with Segur’s system almost exclusively. Because of the rather complexity of application and the secret character of the system (because not published), the system was never applied on a large scale.
Segur stated, already in 1927, that the method must be defined very well before even an attempt could be made to analyse movements in time: “timing without studying methods and conditions is useless”. He developed a tabel of improvement principles in which many of his basic motions appeared, like holding, grasping, preposition, placing, avoidable delay and balance delay. The main principle of improvement was the elimination of the left hand as a means to hold tools and equipment, to be used as a “vice”.
On November 3rd, 1938 he gives a lecture about the benefits of Motion Time Analysis for The Army Industrial College at Washington DC, as president of the A.B. Segur & Company, entitled “Motion Time Analysis and the Army”. In this lecture we can find some hints about his MTA-system:
- he hints that much depends on the travel speed of the impulses down the nerves with a speed of 45 millionths of
a minute per foot over the human body.
- he illustrates with the example of picking up a package of cigarettes: R(8”), Gr, M(6”). The time unit is most
probably the 1/100.000th of a minute, which we for sake of ease will call the Segur Unit, SU. He analyses the
mentioned example with 450 + 200 + 365 SU = 1015 SU. (Compare with Holmes: 0,0105 min, DWF: 120 TU,
RWF: 11 RU and VWF: 13 VU)
He answers the question ”In a group of willing and reasonable well trained people doing one motion, what is the spread between the slowest an the fastest?” with: 15%.
Segur was reluctant to publicise his revolutionary timing system, preferring to keep a fairly low profile, both with his consultancy clients and the labor unions. Active in industrial engineering and in his consultancy company until his late eighties, he was a modest, home-loving, family man who created the first Predetermined Motion Time System almost by accident. But his work was the inspiration for the work of much better known consultants like Quick, Malcolm and Duncan (who published their Work-Factor system in 1938) and Maynard, Stegemerten and Schwab (who published their Methods-Time Measurement system ten years later.)
Segur was the father of five children, two by his first marriage to Ella Martin and three by his second marriage to Charlotte Payne. At the time of his death, he had ten grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. Till his deadth he was active in the field of industrial engineering and had a chair in the program of the IMS Clinic.