What is Method Study?

Method Study is the systematic recording and critical examination of ways of doing
things in order to make improvements.

Method Study Flow Chart

Process of a Method Study

Method study is the process of subjecting work to systematic, critical scrutiny in order to
make it more effective and/or more efficient.
It was originally designed for the analysis and improvement of repetitive, manual work,
but it can be used for all types of activity at all levels of an organisation.
The process is often seen as a linear, described by its main steps of:
- Select (the work to be studied).
- Record (all relevant information about that work).
- Examine (the recorded information).

The aim is to identify. The aim here is to identify possible actions for improvement and to subject these to evaluation in order to develop a preferred solution. personnel. The Examine stage merges into the Develop stage of the investigation as more thorough analysis leads automatically to identified areas of change. technology or location). Many of the techniques are simple charts and diagrams. as the "define" stage. The cyclic process often starts with a quick. Although this linear representation shows the underlying simplicity of method study. method study often involves the construction and analysis of models. and on the measures of success. This process is sometimes introduced as a separate and distinct phase of method study. the choice depends on the nature of the investigation and the work being studied.change that meets the originally specified terms of reference for the project. . Work is selected for method study on the basis of it being an identified problem area or an identified opportunity (resulting from a systematic review of available data. computerised simulations. practice. A wide range of techniques are available for recording. and timescale. before subsequent passes provide and handle more comprehensive and more detailed data to obtain and analyse a more complete picture. questioning process.Maintain (the new standard proactive). This should also include an identification of who "owns" the problem or situation and ways in which such "ownership" is shared. from simple charts and diagrams used to record and represent the situation to full. The recorded data are subjected to examination and analysis.Install (the new method as standard practice). while longer-term changes are implemented and come to fruition. and on the level of detail required.. Before any method study investigation is begun. This may lead to a debate on the aims of the project. Especially with "hard" (clearly defined) problems. Sometimes it is necessary to identify short-term and long-term solutions so that improvements can be made (relatively) immediately. and by computer based techniques. . high levels of dissatisfaction and complaint or as part of a management-derived change in policy. scale. It leads to a plan for the investigation which identifies appropriate techniques. . normal monitoring or control processes. in practice the process is much more one of iteration around the above steps with each dominating at a different stage of the investigation.Develop (an improved way of doing things). rough pass in which preliminary data are collected and examined. The Record stage of method study is to provide sufficient data (in terms of both quality and quantity) to act as the basis of evaluation and examination. and usually because it meets certain conditions of urgency and/or priority. The success of any method study project is realised when actual change is made 'on the ground' . it is necessary to establish clear terms of reference which define the aims. scope and constraints of the investigation. formalised versions of this process are critical examination and systems analysis. Manipulation of and experimentation on the models leads to ideas for development. often through a structured. on reporting mechanisms and frequencies. those points of the overall system of work that require improvements or offer opportunity for beneficial change. but these may be supplemented by photographic and video recording.

the rate of working should be consistent for the relatively short duration of the element. and in others . for measurement.. Increasingly. some of these devices also assist . Making theoretical change is easy.’ what matters is that the introduction of new working methods is successful’..when people start to either revert to old ways of working. in terms of their length. The observer first undertakes preliminary observation of the work (a pilot study) to identify suitable elements which can be clearly recognised on subsequent occasions and are convenient. The rate at which a worker works will vary over time. This is the Maintain phase. More information on rating is given within the entry on work measurement. it is necessary to check that the new method is working. when properly undertaken. It follows the basic procedure of systematic work measurement of : analysis (of the work into small.and handling of the people involved in the situation under review. rather than the work as a whole is to facilitate the process of rating. TIME STUDY Time study is a structured process of directly observing and measuring (using a timing device) human work in order to establish the time required for completion of the work by a qualified worker when working at a defined level of performance. Method drift is common .Thus. easily-measurable components or elements). and that it has brought about the desired results. It is essential that a time study observer has been properly trained in the technique and especially in rating.) This assessment of rating is used to convert the observed time for the element into a basic time .a process referred to as "extension". in some cases... that it is being adhered to. involves the use of specific control mechanisms to ensure that timing errors are within acceptable limits. They may need reassuring. Time study. or introduce new changes. A methods audit can be used to formally compare practice with the defined method and identify such 'irregularities'. it may need the build-up of buffer stocks. measurement (of those components). (One of the prime reasons for measuring elements of work. if elements are carefully selected. Subsequent studies are taken during which the observer times each occurrence of each element (using a stopwatch or other timing device) while at the same time making an assessment of the worker's rate of working on an agreed rating scale. will require a parallel running of old and new systems. retraining and supporting through the acquisition of new skills. and synthesis (from those measured components to arrive at a time for the complete job). timing is by electronic devices rather than by mechanical stopwatch. others may be inefficient or unsafe. the Install phase is very important. making real change demands careful planning . Some of these may be helpful (and should formally be incorporated). There is often only one chance to make change! Some time after the introduction of new working methods. Install. in others.

Time study is a very flexible technique. WORK MEASUREMENT Work measurement is the process of establishing the time that a given task would take when performed by a qualified worker working at a defined level of performance. such as predetermined motion-time systems and the use of synthetic or standard data can provide times from simulation or even visualisation of the work. commonly known as elements. where possible. However. ? an analysis phase in which the job is divided into convenient. Once a basic time for each element has been determined. allowances are added (for example. ? a measurement phase in which the specific measurement technique is used to establish the time required (by a qualified worker working at a defined level of performance) to complete each element of work. irrespective of the particular measurement technique being used. together with appropriate allowances (see below). Additionally. The techniques used to measure work can be classified into those that rely on direct observation of the work. the use of electronic data capture devices and personal computers for analysis makes it much more cost effective than previously. This total number of observations should be taken over a range of conditions (where these are variable) and. consists of three stages . Since time study is essentially a sampling technique in which the value of the time required for the job is based on the observed times for a sample of observations. Because it is a direct observation technique. . However. to construct the standard time for the complete job. although it is difficult to time jobs with very short cycle times (of a few seconds). on a range of workers. some techniques. to allow the worker to recover from the physical and mental effects of carrying out the work) to derive a standard time. discrete components. it is possible using statistical techniques to estimate the number of observations required under specific conditions. suitable for a wide range of work performed under a wide range of conditions. ? a synthesis phase in which the various elemental times are added. The number of cycles that should be observed depends on the variability in the work and the level of accuracy required. The basic procedure. if properly carried out it produces consistent results and it is widely used. the data on which such techniques are based were almost certainly based on earlier observation of actual work. it takes account of specific and special conditions but it does rely on the use of the subjective process of rating. There are various ways in which work may be measured and a variety of techniques have been established. and those that do not.in subsequent stages of the study by carrying out the process of "extending" or converting observed times into basic times. For example.

The addition of allowances should never be used to compensate for an unsafe or unhealthy working environment. Where different observers rate differently.Rating Direct observation techniques (such as time study and analytical estimating) include a process for converting observed times to times for the "qualified worker working at a defined level of performance. dexterity. and consistency. speed of movement. the carrying of heavy weights. One minority school of thought suggests that relaxation allowances are unnecessary.such as effort. It is important that those undertaking the rating are properly trained. Thus. say. if the standard rate of performance for walking on level ground carrying no weight . The rating is then used (in a process known as "extension" in time study) to convert the observed time to the basic time using the simple formula: Basic time = observed time x observed rating/standard rating Rating is regarded by many as a controversial area of measurement since it is a subjective assessment. This assessment is based on the factors involved in the work . The normal practice is to make an addition to the basic time (commonly referred to as an "allowance") to allow the worker to recover from this fatigue and to attend to personal needs. However. Allowances When carrying out work over a complete shift or working day. and that this training is regularly updated (to maintain a common perception of standard rating) through rating 'clinics'. The amount of the allowance depends on the nature of the work and the working environment. workers obviously suffer from the fatigue imposed both by the work undertaken and the conditions under which they are working. work design should include the design of an effective work-rest regime. With work which involves. This involves the observer (after appropriate training) making an assessment of the worker's rate of working relative to the observer's concept of the rate corresponding to standard rating. The assessment is made on a rating scale. the resulting basic times are not comparable. this school suggests that the observer automatically adjusts the concept of standard rating to allow for the weight. It is usual to allow some of the recovery period inherent in these allowances to be taken away from the workplace (and it is essential in adverse working conditions). the observer makes a judgement of the worker's rate of working as a percentage of the standard rate of working (100). Thus." The commonest of these processes is known as rating. and is often assessed using an agreed set of guidelines and scales. Thus on the 0-100 scale. of which there are three or four in common usage. practised rating practitioners are remarkably consistent.

and financial incentives. costing. perhaps. to cover relaxation time. . methods comparison.the existence of available predetermined data. or by experience. work sequencing. unoccupied time which increases the overall work cycle (such as waiting for a machine to finish a processing cycle). The end result is a standard time which includes the time the work "should" take (when carried out by a qualified worker) plus additional allocations in the form of allowances. In many jobs there are small amounts of work that may occur irregularly and inconsistently. budgeting. manpower planning. contingency time and. . For example. labour performance measurement. Work Measurement Determination of the length of time it should take to complete a job. . work balancing in team working. and designing incentive systems.the purpose of the measurement.is equivalent to four miles per hour. it is argued that the weight has been allowed for in the adjustment of standard rating and any relaxation allowance is simply a duplication of this adjustment.the time available for the measurement. and workplace design. It is often not economic to measure such infrequent work and an additional allowance is added to cover such work and similar irregular delays. time standards provide an .the level of detail required. Thus. techniques which derive times quickly may provide less detail and be less suitable for some purposes. . where appropriate. The advantage of structured and systematic work measurement is that it gives a common currency for the evaluation and comparison of all types of work. Job times are vital inputs for manpower planning. To some extent there is a trade off between some of these factors. by analysis of historical records (for such items as tool sharpening or replacement). They are less commonly used as the basis of product design.the cost of measurement. such as the establishment of individual performance levels on short-cycle work. then an observer rating a worker walking while carrying a weight will not expect the equivalent rate. estimating labor costs. The results obtained from work measurement are commonly used as the basis of the planning and scheduling of work. This allowance is known as a contingency allowance and is assessed either by observation. In addition. from the workers' standpoint. scheduling. Choosing a measurement technique The choice of a suitable measurement technique depends on a number of factors including: .

Work measurement can be extremely effective at informing supervisors of the working times and delays inherent in different ways of carrying out work. and its efficiency. The purpose of a measurement method is to achieve full coverage of the work to be measured. Work measurement helps to determine the time spent performing any process and offers a consistent. Time standards used under Standard Cost Systems reflect the amount of time it should take an average worker to do a job under typical operating conditions. The standards include expected activity time plus allowances for probable delays. comparable methodology for establishing labor capacities. and (4) work sampling. and re porting. performance appraisal. scheduling. time values. People who are trained in the proper method and follow that method will produce high-quality work and per form at an acceptable performance level. A reporting system is important to the success of any work measurement method. and productivity. the method used in its performance. the time that is required. The objective is to determine the workload in an operation. The time that a job should take is determined not on the basis of speeding up the motions a worker normally makes but on the normal pace of the average worker. They should enhance safety. A good work measurement system has many benefits. (3) predetermined data. Quality is equally important. Preferred methods are not always the most efficient or fastest way to do a task. coffee breaks. Time values and reporting should also be considered. it has been proven that good performance and good quality go hand in hand. and decision making.indication of expected output. Safety for the employee and for the product should be considered. Work Measurement Components A work measurement system has three components: preferred methods. its size. It helps to reduce labor costs. (2) historical times. taking into consideration allowances for rest periods. increase productivity. planning. and fatigue. and the number of workers needed to perform the work efficiently. The most commonly used methods of work measurement are: (1) stopwatch time study. and improve supervision. Supervisors and managers must have access to labor-management . quality. Work Measurement Work measurement is the careful analysis of a task.

but they provide no information for future improvement. However. and the nature of the synthesis process. it is necessary to collect descriptive or qualitative data on the nature of the task. To obtain time standards. understand. the nature and level of data collection and measurement. which may have a bearing on the time that the task takes to be complete. There are four work measurement methods. Such data have the advantages of being easy to collect. The purpose of measurement is to collect real data about actual events. Work Measurement Methods Work measurement programs involve the use of a number of techniques. the three-stage procedure remains common. At the measurement stage. and synthesis. During this stage. each of which has strengths and weaknesses. When repetitive jobs are measured. the task to be measured is analyzed and broken down into convenient parts that are suitable for the chosen measurement technique. Before measurement begins. At the synthesis stage. simple three-stage procedure: analysis. Timely information can be used to manage and shift labor hours to areas where they are needed and to correct problems or at least prevent them from becoming a crisis. data collection and measurement. and other factors. or motions. elements.information that is both timely and complete. The historical data method shows the time it actually took to complete a task. the various parts of the task and their associated basic times are combined together in correct sequence and with the correct frequency to produce the time for a complete job. data are collected over a number of representative cycles of a job to obtain a "mean" or "typical" value. each selected to cover an appropriate part of the task. and managers. the basic time will be adjusted for allowances to become the standard time for the task. All work measurement systems are based on the same. Personal computers help to apply work measurement more effectively and more cheaply and provide immediate feedback to the workers. They differ in the nature and degree of analysis. The purpose of the measurement technique is to derive a "basic time" for each of these activities. and communicate. An analysis of the results can be done using statistical techniques to determine the number of observations that must be made to provide a given level of confidence in the final results. the data are usually converted to target data or data that apply under known conditions. the conditions under which it is performed. supervisors. For the work sampling method. a large number of random observations are made of the task to .

A film or videotape records what a job entails and how long it takes. It enables all types of tasks to be assigned time/duration values that can then be extended into cost values.php?q=work+measurement&submit=Go . and it provides more operational detail than historical data. converting actual time to the expected or normal time remains a problem.com/search_new.citehr. A computerized data collector provides more accurate timing than the stopwatch. The predetermined motion/time systems method is based on the premises that all work consists of basic human motions and that times can be assigned to these motions if they are defined and classified in a systematic way. The results are not easy to communicate.citehr. the time-study method is subjective and relies heavily on the experience of the time-study analyst. but when properly executed. This technique is used most frequently in studying highvolume settings such as a workstation or an assembly line. The snapback approach requires a stopwatch with a reset button that allows the observer to read and record the time at the end of each work element then reset (snapback) the watch to zero. The time study method uses continuous and snapback approaches to record the elapsed time of a task.determine the steps in its normal performance. http://www.php? q=work+measurement&submit=Go http://www. However. Although popular. This method requires substantial training and practice to acquire and maintain accuracy. The disadvantage of work sampling is that it requires thousands of samples to establish an accurate measure for each step. this method yields very accurate times.com/search_new. This method is easy to learn and use. An observer measures a job by watching and analyzing it into its basic constituent motions.