Monday, 29 December 2014


“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” - Bill Gates
“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” - Peter Drucker
The term ‘’efficiency’’ gained popularity in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The Time and Motion Study was used to find ways of improving efficiency at work. Time and motion study help in reducing and controlling costs, improving working conditions, and motivating people.

The Time study was developed by Frederick Taylor. The Motion study was developed by Lillian Gilbreth and her husband Frank Gilbreth. It is interesting to note that Lillian Gilbreth is known as the first woman engineer and also as the mother of modern management.

The Time study involves the continuous observation of the task with a timekeeping device to find out the time taken to complete a task. This time study is used to study, work patterns of short or long duration, repetitive work and a variety of dissimilar work.

When the time taken to complete a task is measured, machine delays, personal needs, fatigue, and any other foreign interference is also taken into account. Effectively a job was broken down into its component parts. The time taken to complete each component was noted. And the components were ordered or rearranged, keeping in mind efficiency.

In motion study, Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, broke down the main task into minor activities called “therbligs,”that is Gilbreth spelled backward. They then filmed the workers while performing their activities. This film helped in identifying any bad postures the workers took that would increase their fatigue. The films were also used to educate other workers on proper postures while working. Better ways of doing the activities were also taught. The motion studies conducted were known as “macromotion” as well as “micromotion” studies. 

Though the Time study and Motion study were conducted by different researchers, they are always mentioned in unison.

A Time Standard is an important component of Time and Motion Study. A time standard takes into account three factors – a qualified worker, working at a normal pace, and doing a specific task. 

In a manufacturing department, a time standard helps in identifying the following:

              ·              Determining how many machines or tools to buy
·              Determining the number of manpower needed
·              Determining the cost of manufacturing and selling
·              Scheduling the machines, operations, and people who will do the job
·              Determining the performance of a worker
·              Determining the assembly line balance and conveyor belt speed
·              Pay wages for teams or individuals that exceed the normal work standards
·              Performing cost reduction
·              Evaluating new equipment purchase
·              Creating budgets

Frank and Lillian Gilberth had 12 kids. Two of the kids Frank Bunker Gilbreth, Jr. and Ernestine Gilbreth Carey wrote a biography named “Cheaper by the Dozen”. Few excerpts from the book shows how Frank Gilberth managed time and motion at his home and brought in efficiency.

Dad took moving pictures of us children washing dishes, so that he could figure out how we could reduce our motions and thus hurry through the task. Yes, at home or on the job, Dad was always the efficiency expert. He buttoned his vest from the bottom up; instead of from the top down, because the bottom-to-top process took him only three seconds, while the top to bottom took seven. He even used two shaving brushes to lather his face because he found that by so doing he could cut seventeen seconds of his shaving time. For a while he tried shaving with two razors, but he finally gave that up.”

Hope all project managers can learn a lot of tips and tricks from the Time and Motion experts Taylor, Frank Gilberth, and Lillian Gilberth. 

Sopm Columbus at 05:45

          


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