What is Work Study? Method Study, Motion Study

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What is Work Study?

Work study is another important method for improving the productivity of an organisation. It is a process used to identify better ways to perform different jobs. The main objective of a work study is to use labour and materials optimally by determining efficient work methods. The following are some popular definitions of work study: According to Dr. Taylor, work study is “The greatest production results when each worker is given a definite task to be performed in a definite time in a definite manner.”

According to British Standard Institution (BSI), “Work study is a generic term for those techniques, particularly method study and work measurement, which are used in examination of human work in all its contents and which lead systematically to the investigation of all factors which affect the efficiency and economy of this situation being removed in order to effect improvement.”

According to Russel Currie, “Work study is the systematic, objective, and critical examination of all the factors that govern the operational efficiency of any specified activity in order to effect improvement.” According to International Labour Organisation (ILO), “Work study is a term used to embrace the techniques of method study and work measurement, which are employed to ensure the best possible use of human and material resources in carrying out a specific activity.”

Objectives of Work Study

As discussed earlier, the main objective of a work study in an organisation is to enable optimum utilisation of labour and available resources by determining an efficient work method.

Apart from this, some other objectives of a work study are as follows:

  • To analyse the existing work methods of an organisation
  • To determine the standard time to perform a particular job
  • To increase the productivity of an organisation
  • To achieve the desired quality at the minimum cost of production
  • To improve the operational efficiency of an organisation

Process of Work Study

Work study is a systematic process to improve the productivity of an organisation.It involves eight steps, which are as follows:

  • Select a job to be studied.

  • Record all the information related to the selected job using various charting techniques, such as operation process chart, flow process chart, and Simultaneous Motion (SIMO) chart.

  • Analyse the recorded facts and determine the purpose, place, sequence and existing methods for performing the job.

  • Create a plan to develop a new method for performing the job.

  • Measure the work content to set a standard time for performing the job. Work content refers to the responsibilities and duties involved in a job. To measure the work content, an organisation uses various techniques, such as time study, the synthesis method, analytical estimating and work sampling.

  • Design a new method for performing the job.

  • Implement the method in the organisation.

  • Establish the new method as a standard method for performing the job

Benefits of Work Study

Some significant benefits of work study are as follows:

  • It improves the production efficiency of an organisation

  • It maintains a uniform production flow

  • It reduces the manufacturing cost of an organisation

  • It improves the employee-employer relationship by establishing standard methods for performing different jobs

  • It boosts job satisfaction among employees

  • It provides better working conditions for employees

  • It measures labour efficiency

What is Method Study?

Method study is a process used to analyse various methods for performing jobs and choosing the best method from them. The primary objective of method study is to remove redundant operations and determine the best method for performing a job. Some of the popular definitions of method study are as follows: According to BSI, “Method study is the systematic recording and critical examination or existing and proposed ways of doing work as a means or developing and applying easier and more effective methods and reducing cost.”

According to International Statistical Institute (ISI), “Method study is the systematic analysis and design of work methods and systems through the application of innovatory techniques to achieve improved utilization of resources.” Method study includes the study of work processes and the working conditions.

An organisation generally performs method study if it faces problems such as the following:

  • High wastage and scrap
  • High operating costs
  • Extreme movement of materials and labour
  • Extreme production blockages
  • Extreme rejections and rework
  • Complaints related to quality of products by customers
  • Complaints related to poor working conditions
  • Excessive overtime

Objectives of Method Study

Some of the major objectives of method study are as follows:

  • To analyse the existing method for performing a job

  • To formulate a new method to perform the job, thereby increasing productivity and reducing production cost

  • To decrease excessive movement of materials

  • To use resources effectively

  • To remove unnecessary operations

  • To standardise work methods and processes

Advantages of Method Study

The main advantages of method study are as follows:

  • It helps in simplifying different jobs and determines the best way to perform a job.

  • It provides better working conditions and ensures the safety of employees.

  • It reduces the cost of material handling.

  • It improves the workflow.

  • It helps in optimal utilisation of available resources.

  • It reduces the production cycle time, wastage and material consumption, and the cost of production

Process of Method Study

Method study is a systematic process to improve the productivity of an organisation. Figure displays the steps involved in the method study process:

Let’s discuss each step of the method study process as follows:

Select a Job That Needs to Be Studied

In this step, the job analyst selects a job to study and defines the objectives of the method study process.

Collect Information About the Job, Including Methods and Working Conditions

In this step, the analyst gathers information related to the selected job as well as the methods and working conditions required to perform it. To collect this information, the analyst can use various recording techniques, such as process charts. Process charts are used to record data related to a job.

Table shows some of the symbols used in process charting along with their description:

SymbolActivityDescription of Activity
OperationDescribes the alteration of an object at the work place. This alteration can be related to change in a product or materials.
TransportationSignifies the change of location of an object, for example, movement of machines and labour.
InspectionIndicates the analysis of an object with respect to its quality or quantity.
Delay/Temporary ShortageShows the delay in performing the next activity in a particular location.
StorageSignifies the delay in the storage of an object at a particular location, where it is protected against unauthorised removal.
CombinedRepresents two or more activities taking place simultaneously.
Symbols used in Process Charting

Analyse the Recorded Information

In this step, the analyst evaluates the recorded information by answering questions related to the purpose, means and sequence of a work process.

Formulate a New Method to Perform a Particular Job

Next, the analyst generates several work methods and selects the best among them. He/she selects a method depending on various factors, such as:

  • Cost of implementing the method
  • Estimated savings in terms of cost and time
  • Feasibility of implementing the method
  • Productivity to be achieved after implementing the method

Implement the Selected Method

In this step, the organisation arranges its different resources to implement the chosen method efficiently. Once the method is implemented successfully, it is adopted as a standard practice in the organisation.

Ensure That the Implemented Method is Working Properly

In this step, the organisation verifies if the implemented method is working properly. The organisation also determines whether the objectives of the method study are fulfilled by implementing the new method.

What is Motion Study?

Motion study is a process that analyses the body movements of a worker while performing a job.The objective of this is to reduce the time taken in performing the job.

The process of motion study involves following steps:

  • Examining the existing method for performing a job
  • Analysing each motion required to perform the job in depth
  • Recording the collected information
  • Developing an improved method for performing the job
  • Documenting the new method

Principles of Motion Study

Motion study provides a systematic method to help an organisation in simplifying and standardising work methods. This method makes work easier and effective. However, the implementation of motion study is successful only if its principles are followed properly. The principles of motion study were proposed by Frank Gilbreth, the father of motion study.

These principles are studied under three categories, as shown in Figure:

Micro-Motion Study

Some operations have very short production cycles and involve rapid movements of men and materials. Because of their quick speed, it is not possible to record the activities of these operations by just direct observation. In such cases, it is difficult to identify unnecessary movements in these operations and develop the best method for performing them. Therefore, film and video cameras are used for capturing the activities of these operations. The study of these operations is called micro-motion study.

The objectives of a micro-motion study are as follows:

  • To analyse the inter-relationship among different work group members
  • To study the relationship between an operator and a machine
  • To record the time involved in completing an operation
  • To study the method used for performing a job

Micro-motion methods are based on the concept of dividing human activities into categories or groups of movements. These categories of movements are called therbligs. Frank Gilbreth proposed these therbligs. Table lists these therbligs along with their short description:

S.No.Name of TherbligSymbolColorDescription
1.SearchSHBlackFinding an object
2.FindFGreyIndicating the mental reaction at the end of a search
3.SelectSTLight GreyPicking one object from a group of objects
4.GraspGRedHolding the object
5.HoldHGold OchreRetaining the object after grasping it
6.Transported LoadTLGreenShifting an object from one place to another
7.PositionPBluePlacing the object properly so that it can perform the work effectively
8.AssembleAVioletKeeping one object with the second object so that it can become the integral part of the first object
9.UseUPurpleMoving the tool or equipment to perform an activity
10.DisassembleDALight VioletSegregating one object from the other
11.InspectIBurnt OchreAnalysing the object with respect to the standard size, shape, and color
12.PrepositionPPPale BluePlacing the object in a pre-determined place where it needs to perform a function
13.Release LoadRLCarmine RedLetting go the object from the operator’s hand
14.Transport EmptyTEOlive GreenMoving an empty hand to reach an object
15.RestROrangeProviding a pause to the operator to overcome fatigue
16.Unavoidable DelayUDYellowSignifying the delay that cannot be controlled by an operator
17.PlanPN————Determining the way to perform a job
Therbligs and their Description

Memo-Motion Study

Memo-motion study is a special form of micro-motion study. This study was proposed by M.E. Mundel. The memo-motion study is used to record the movement of men and materials in slow speed using motion picture cameras. The activities recorded in this manner are called motion pictures. These motion pictures are used to analyse the production flow, material handling, and man and machine relationship.

A memo-motion study not only provides all the benefits of a micro-motion study but also helps in getting the motion films at cheaper rates. Moreover, it allows a rapid visual review of a long sequence of activities. However, there are certain disadvantages of a memo-motion study. It can only be used when the work is confined to a specific area. In case an object moves from one place to another frequently, it becomes difficult for motion picture cameras to record activities.

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