Methods engineeringTime study

What is Time Study?

Time study, also known as the classical method with a stopwatch, was proposed by Frederick Taylor in 1881. Although other methodologies for measuring work have been developed, the classical method with a stopwatch remains the most widely used. This study consists of measuring the time a worker spends on a given task, in order to establish a standard time.

It is important to note that Time Study and Work Measurement are not synonyms. Work Measurement refers to the application of techniques to determine the time a qualified worker spends on a specific task according to a predetermined execution standard. Time Study is one of these techniques.

Work Measurement is the application of techniques to determine the time a qualified worker spends on performing a defined task according to a predetermined execution standard.


What is the objective of Work Measurement?

As can be seen in the Work Study module, work time can increase due to poor product design, poor process performance, or due to unproductive time attributed to management or workers. The Study of Methods is the technique par excellence to minimize the amount of operational work, eliminate unnecessary movements, and replace methods. Measurement of work, on the other hand, serves to investigate, minimize, and eliminate idle time in the process.

An additional function of Work Measurement is the setting of standard times (standard times) of execution, so it is a complementary tool in Methods Engineering, especially in the definition and implementation phases. In addition to being an invaluable tool for the costing of operations.

It is important to have a systemic approach when considering both method study and work measurement techniques. That is, consider the performance of operations as a whole, as the organization is a system, an indivisible whole.

It is essential to avoid focusing on improving local performance without considering the objective of the system.

People, a fundamental part of organizations, are not usually resistant to change, that is a paradigm. People usually reject change that they do not perceive as benefiting them. Historically, time study was a technique used to control what were considered causes of inefficiency attributed to the worker; which is why it acquired a bad reputation, especially in union circles.

Understanding and conveying that the results of a time study can potentially be used for the management of operations, flow management, load balancing, among others; and that, as a consequence, it can benefit the organization and, therefore, the workers, is a fundamental part of the exercise, since it makes it necessary to start from human considerations.

Uses of Work Measurement

As a professional, there will be many occasions when you will need a work measurement technique. In the process of setting standard times, it may be necessary to use measurement to:

  • Compare the effectiveness of several methods and choose the one that requires the least execution time under equal conditions.
  • Distribute work within teams with the help of multiple activity diagrams, with the goal of balancing processes.
  • Determine the number of machines that an operator can handle.

Once the standard time (type) has been determined, it can be used to:

  • Obtain the base information for the production program.
  • Obtain information to base quotes, sale prices and delivery times.
  • Set standards for the use of machinery and labor.
  • Obtain information that allows controlling labor costs (including establishing incentive plans) and maintaining standard costs.

Work Measurement Techniques

When we mentioned that the term Work Measurement was not equivalent to the term Time Study, we meant that Time Study is only one of the techniques contained in the set “Measurement”. The main techniques used in work measurement are:

  • Work Sampling
  • Structured Estimation
  • Time Study
  • Predetermined Time Standards
  • Type Data

Basic systematic procedure for conducting Work Measurement

The necessary stages to systematically measure work are:

  • Select: The work that will be studied.
  • Record: All data relating to the circumstances in which the work is carried out, the methods and the activity elements involved.
  • Examine: The recorded data and the detail of the elements with a critical sense to verify if the most effective methods and movements are used, and separate the unproductive or strange elements from the productive ones.
  • Measure: The amount of work of each element, expressing it in time, using the most appropriate work measurement technique.
  • Compile: The standard time of the operation, anticipating, in case of time study with stopwatch, supplements for short breaks, personal needs, etc.
  • Define: Precisely the series of activities and the operation method to which the computed time corresponds, and notify that this will be the standard time for the specified activities and methods.

These stages must be followed in their entirety when the objective of the measurement is to set standard times (type times).

What is Time Study?

It is undeniable that among the techniques used in work measurement, the most important is the Time Study, or at least it is the one that allows us to confront the reality of productive systems subject to measurement.

The Time Study is a work measurement technique used to record the times and work rhythms corresponding to the elements of a defined task, carried out under certain conditions, and to analyze the data in order to determine the time required to perform the task according to a predetermined execution standard.OIT

Throughout this module we will cover all the necessary elements for an optimal time study:

  • Tools for time study
  • Selection of work and stages of time study
  • Delimitation and timing of work
  • Calculation of the number of observations
  • Valuation of the work rhythm
  • Time study supplements
  • Calculation of the Standard Time
  • Application of the Standard Time

Bryan Salazar López

By profession, Industrial Engineer, Master in Logistics, specialized in productivity, with interest and experience in modeling processes under sustainability indicators. Founder of, site where research contributions, articles and references are collected.

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