Lecture 1

Work Study

Definition: Work study may be defined as the analysis of a job for the purpose of finding the preferred method of doing it and also determining the standard time to perform it by the preferred (or given) method. Work study, therefore, comprises of two areas of study: method study (motion study) and time study (work measurement).

Role of Work Study in Improving Productivity

In order to understand the role of work study, we need to understand the role of method study and that of time study.

Method study (also sometimes called Work Method Design) is mostly used to improve the method of doing work. It is equally applicable to new jobs. When applied to existing jobs and existing jobs, method study aims to find better methods of doing the jobs that are economical and safe, require less human effort, and need shorter make-ready / put-away time. The better method involves the optimum use of best materials and appropriate manpower so that work is performed in well organized manner leading to increased resource utilization, better quality and lower costs.

It can therefore be stated that through method study we have a systematic way of developing human resource effectiveness, providing high machine and equipment utilization, and making economical use of materials.

Time study, on the other hand, provides the standard time, that is the time needed by worker to complete a job by the standard method. Standard times for different jobs are necessary for proper estimation of

  • manpower, machinery and equipment requirements
  • daily, weekly or monthly requirement of materials
  • production cost per unit as an input to better make or buy decision
  • labor budgets
  • worker's efficiency and make incentive wage payments.

By the application of method study and time study in any organization, we can thus achieve greater output at less cost and of better quality, and hence achieve higher productivity.

Work Study and Ergonomics

The work study and the ergonomics are the two areas of study having the same objective: design the work system so that for the operator it is safe, and the work is less fatiguing and less time taking.

Historical Developments

The Work of Taylor

Frederick W. Taylor is generally considered to be the founder of modern method and time study, although time studies were conducted in Europe many years before Taylor 's time. In 1760, Jean Rodolphe Perronet, a French engineer, made extensive time studies on the manufacture of No. 6 common pins.

Taylor began his time study work in 1881 while associated with the Midvale Steel Company in U.S.A.. He evolved a system based on the “task”, and proposed that the work of each employee be planned out by the management in advance. Each job was to have a standard time, deter­ mined by time studies made by experts. In the timing process, Taylor advocated dividing the work into small divisions of effort known as "ele ments." Experts were to time these individually and use their collective values to determine the allowed time for the task.

Early presentations of Taylor 's findings were received with little enthusiasm, because many interpreted his findings to be somewhat new piece-rate system rather than a technique for analyzing work and improving methods. Both management and employees were skeptical of piece rates, because many standards were earlier typically based on the supervisor's guess or even sometimes inflated by bosses to protect the performance of their departments.

In June 1903, at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers meeting, Taylor presented his famous paper, "Shop Management," which included the elements of scientific management: time study, standardization of all tools and tasks, use of a planning department, use of slide rule and similar timesaving implements, instruction cards for workers, bonuses for successful per­ formance, differential rates, mnemonic systems for classifying products, routing systems, and modern cost systems. Taylor 's techniques were well received by many factory managers, and by 1917, of 113 plants that had installed "scientific manage­ ment," 59 considered their installations completely successful, 20 partly successful, and 34 failures.

In 1898, while at the Bethlehem Steel Company , Taylor carried out the pig-iron experiment that became the most celebrated demonstrations of his principles. He established the correct method, along with financial incentives, and workers carrying 92-pound pigs of iron up a ramp onto a freight car were able to increase their productivity from an average of 12.5 tons per day to between 47 and 48 tons per day. This work was performed with an increase in the daily rate of $1.15 to $1.85. Taylor claimed that workmen per­ formed at the higher rate "without bringing on a strike among the men, without any quarrel with the men and were happier and better contented."

Another of Taylor 's Bethlehem Steel studies that became famous was on shovel­ ing work. Workers who shoveled at Bethlehem would use the same shovel for any job—lifting heavy iron ore to lifting light rice coal. Taylor designed shovels to fit the different loads: short- handled shovels for iron ore, long-handled scoops for light rice coal, and showed their usefulness in improving productivity.

Not as well known as his engineering contributions is the fact that in 1881, he was a U.S. tennis doubles champion. Here he used an odd-looking racket he had designed with a spoon curved handle.

The Work of Gilbreths

Frank and Lilian Gilbreth are considered as the founders of the modern motion study technique, which may be defined as the study of the body motions used in performing an oper ation, for the purpose of improving the operation by eliminating unnecessary motions, simplifying necessary motions, and then establishing the most favorable motion sequence for maximum efficiency. Frank Gilbreth originally implemented ideas into the bricklayer's trade in which he was employed. After introducing meth­ ods improvements through motion study, including an adjustable scaffold that he had invented, as well as operator training, he was able to increase the average num­ ber of bricks laid from 120 to 350 per worker per hour.

More than anyone else, the Gilbreths were responsible for industry's recogni tion of the importance of a detailed study of body motions to arrive at the best method of performing an operation that would increase production, reduce operator fatigue. They developed the technique of filming motions for study, known as micromotion study.

The Gilbreths also developed the cyclegraphic and chronocyclegraphic analysis techniques for studying the motion paths made by an operator. The cycle- graphic method involves fixing small electric light bulb to the finger or part of the body being studied and then photographing the motion while the operator is performing the operation. The resulting picture gives a permanent record of the motion pattern employed and can be analyzed for possible improvement. The chrono- cyclegraph is similar to the cyclegraph, but its electric circuit is interrupted regularly, causing the light to flash. Instead of showing solid lines of the motion patterns, the resulting photograph shows short dashes of light spaced in proportion to the speed of the body motion being photographed. Consequently, with the chronocyclegraph it is possible to determine direction and compute velocity, acceleration, and deceleration, in addition to study of body motions.

The Work of Others

Carl G. Barth, an associate of Frederick W. Taylor, developed a production slide rule for estimating the most efficient combinations of speeds and feeds for cutting metals of various hardnesses, considering the depth of cut, size of tool, and life of the tool. He is also known for his work on estimation of allowances by establishing the number of foot-pounds of work a worker could do in a day. He developed a relationship in which a certain push or pull on a worker's arms was equated with the amount or weight that worker could handle for a certain percentage of the day.

Harrington Emerson applied scientific methods to work on the Santa Fe Railroad and wrote a book, Twelve Principles of Efficiency, in which he made an attempt to lay down procedures for efficient operation. He reorganized the company, integrated its shop procedures, installed standard costs and a bonus plan, and introduced Hollerith tabulating machines for the accounting work. This effort resulted in annual saving of $ 1.5 million and recognition of his approach, called efficiency engineering .

In 1917, Henry Laurence Gantt developed simple graph that would present performance while visually showing projected schedules. This production control tool was adopted by the shipbuilding industry during World War I. For the first time, this tool demonstrated the possibility of comparing actual performance against the original plan, and to adjust daily schedules in accordance with capacity, back­ log, and customer requirements. Gantt is also known for his wage payment system that rewarded workers for above-standard performance, eliminated any penalty for failure, and offered the boss a bonus for every worker who per­ formed above .standard. Gantt advocated human relations and promoted scientific management in the back drop of an inhuman "speedup" of labor.

Motion and time study received added stimulus during World War II when Franklin D. Roosevelt, through the U.S. Department of Labor, attempted to establish standards for increasing production. The stated policy advocated greater pay for greater output but without an increase in unit labor costs, incentive schemes to be collectively bargained between labor and management, and the use of time study for setting production standards.

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