Manufacturing Productivity – Workshop 2 (Work Measurement)
The Appleton Greene Corporate Training Program (CTP) for Manufacturing Productivity is provided by Mr Greene Certified Learning Provider (CLP). Program Specifications: Monthly cost USD$2,500.00; Monthly Workshops 6 hours; Monthly Support 4 hours; Program Duration 12 months; Program orders subject to ongoing availability.
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Learning Provider Profile
Mr. Greene is a Certified Learning Provider (CLP) at Appleton Greene and has managerial experience in manufacturing, industrial engineering, and R&D.
He has achieved a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and been a registered Professional Engineer in three states.
He has industry experience within the following sectors: Manufacturing, Pharmaceuticals, Consumer Goods; Fast Moving Consumer Goods, and Food & Beverage.
He has had commercial experience within the following countries: United States of America, more specifically including Dallas, Salt Lake City, Las Angeles, Irvine, and San Diego California: and in Buenos Aires Argentina and Rio de Janeiro Brazil.
His personal achievements include: Headed division or corporate industrial engineering for three Fortune 250 companies; ITT Latin America, Abbott Labs, and Ray-Ban when it was a division of Bausch & Lomb. Authored nine books and written dozens of articles relating to productivity.
His service skills incorporate: productivity of direct and indirect labor, production management, cost reduction, process improvement, facility planning and layout.
There is one specific mission for workshop number two. That mission is to prepare individuals, the practitioners and their management, to install, operate, and maintain a work measurement system.
1. Present information, to allow management to construct a framework in which work measurement will operate effectively.
2. Present information to prepare practitioners to develop and administer accurate, straightforward, and transparent rates to meet management’s objectives.
1. Present an outline of work measurement objectives, options and practices of what can be done, and why work measurement is so important to manufacturing productivity.
2. Present in detail a broad selection of work measurement options and practices.
1. Prepare the organization and individuals who will perform work measurement, to construct a targeted work measurement system for the organization’s circumstances, objectives, budget, and culture. Present guidance to develop rates, to maintain historical files, and to distribute approved standards to other departments who would use them in their operations.
01. Work Measurement Basics: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
02. How To Establish Work Measurement Rates: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
03. Time Study Instructions And Forms: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
04. Administration Of Rates: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
05. The Art Of Work Sampling: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
06. Other Opportunities For Use Of Work Measurement: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
07. Other Important Aspects Of Work Measurement: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. 1 Month
08. The Special Case Of Construction Piece Rates: departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development. Time Allocated: 1 Month
01. Work Measurement Basics: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
02. How To Establish Work Measurement Rates: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
03. Time Study Instructions And Forms: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
04. Administration Of Rates: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
05. The Art Of Work Sampling: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
06. Other Opportunities For Use Of Work Measurement: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
07. Other Important Aspects Of Work Measurement: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
08. The Special Case Of Construction Piece Rates: Each individual department head to undertake departmental SWOT analysis; strategy research & development.
01. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze Work Measurement Basics.
02. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze How To Establish Work Measurement Rates.
03. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze Time Study Instructions And Forms.
04. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze Administration Of Rates.
05. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze The Art Of Work Sampling.
06. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze Other Opportunities For Use Of Work Measurement.
07. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze Other Important Aspects Of Work Measurement.
08. Create a task on your calendar, to be completed within the next month, to analyze The Special Case Of Construction Piece Rates.
Work Measurement, Time Study, Time and Motion Study
How long does a job take? Perhaps the single most important operating information, in any business.
When you consider the subject of work measurement, what may immediately come to mind is an incentive system, or a formal procedure even if no incentive pay is involved, to measure the work on the production floor. Those mechanisms are, and have been for many years, the basic formats to achieve practical benefits by using work measurement. Rest assured, this workshop contains all of the information to train practitioners, establish a work measurement system, set and maintain standard rates.
However, work measurement adds more value than just engineered standards. It is also the basis for individual productivity projects, because the direct observation which it requires will define just exactly what is going on, in the situation in which you are interested, and objectively quantify the times involved.
Work measurement, time study by watch or electronics, perhaps random sampling; is a superior way to learn the time involved. It also points out lost time, interference and waste, constraints, unbalanced workloads, activity that can be performed by a lower skill level; Work measurement can recognize when someone is using poor or even unauthorized methods.
Work measurement provides current information to support multiple tools of good management
• Quantify the required time to perform a function; direct or indirect.
To serve as a basis for vital company information; standard costing, capacity, efficiency, productivity, utilization, staffing, scheduling, cost justification. Better get the times right.
• Find and manage production constraints
What is delaying output, and how do we improve? Typically observation and the watch locate constraints quickly; then evaluate options.
• Update old rates and standardize practices.
Methods, equipment, and technology evolve over time and as a result older rates become inaccurate. Use time study to update rates, then go on to standardize methods and practices across similar activity.
• Identify non-value added work.
Time study almost always reveals preventable waste, lost time, and productivity-killing practices. Study the constraint, the bottleneck, especially; whether paced by machine or labor elements. Keep the constraint loaded. In keeping with the classic mandate of “Don’t improve, remove”, eliminate non-value added activity and you’ll be able to pare crew sizes and / or increase production.
• Evaluate overloaded, and underloaded, jobs. Balance lines and workloads.
Observe and measure labor and equipment activity to resolve workload issues objectively. Then you will be able to change job content or the timing of assignments, and quickly and effectively balance workload and improve labor efficiency.
• Prepare for union contract negotiation. Know precisely what the activity level is, in machine or operator-paced operations.
Objective study informs both company and union about real, not perceived, labor workloads. Observation quantifies workloads, whether too high, too low, or just right. Effective corrections to correct imbalance can include equipment and technology acquisition, work reassignment, layout change. Timing revisions, to perform some work elements at a different time, are surprisingly effective to correct overload and imbalance situations.
• Allow skilled people to spend their time concentrating on their special talents, by shifting out tasks that require a lower-skill level.
If a shortage of skilled labor is an issue for your business, work measurement is a key tool. Observe and time your skilled people to identify wasted time and the lower-skilled tasks that are assigned to them. Then eliminate the waste, and assign the lower-skill tasks to less skilled employees. In other words, free up your skilled people to use their talents. You don’t ask the surgeons to clean the operating room.
• Educate your educated guesses.
Business makes decisions based on the best available data. Employee work measurement studies will generate objective, current data. (Be careful here. The watch does not know the official party line; it may generate information that is not politically correct.)
a. Confirm to management when a certain level of performance has in fact been reached, and that it is time for the next project phase.
b. Quantify current output, activity level, lost time, workload balance.
c. Determine the relative times for manual work, compared to simple mechanization; and to full automation.
• Identify time consuming elements of labor content.
a. A luxury hotel wanted to determine the expected time to change a room, when a guest departed. Time study did that, and also told the client that some of their sophisticated room features, glass and marble for instance, required substantial time to clean. And, please keep the number of pillows down to save literally minutes on a room change.
b. A manufacturer believed their construction products could be installed, in the field, more quickly than competitor’s. Time study verified the claim, and was subsequently featured in ads.
Choose a formal work measurement system; “incentives” or “piecework”, or “Reasonable Expectations” (RE). The levels of detail required and therefore the costs of these systems are not the same, so be sure that the benefits will outweigh cost.
Incentives or piece rates motivate people, but they are not free; rate setting effort, recordkeeping and reporting will increase. RE’s will result in more labor hours per unit than incentives, but less than an unmeasured situation. RE admin costs will be lower than incentives, although accuracy of the rates will be rigorous enough to support management systems.
Is there a single, simple solution to all, or even most, work measurement projects? Of course not. Work measurement projects are not all the same, because no two facilities have the same objectives nor operations. One size does not fit all.
Will your operating features be just like what is described in this workshop? Maybe not, but many will be similar. Learn the fundamentals which are presented here, and your work measurement activity can produce useful results; for instance if your objective is:
• To establish the volume produced over a given time for purposes of manning, capacity or labor cost;
• or quantify workload for individuals or for a crew;
• or balance workloads for a line or work group;
• or identify a bottleneck and alleviate it whether limited by machine or person or both;.
• or evaluate the efficacy of a method or workplace layout, or benefit of new equipment or technology.
Most of the rest of this workshop has to do with the establishment of work measurement in a working environment, with workstations that are part of a production operation.
This short section will address other very useful applications, other techniques of work measurement as they are routinely applied throughout industry. The headings listed below are just a sample of the options available when your organization has qualified work measurement practitioners available to send to an opportunity for improvement.
A manufacturer with 250 unionized employees wanted to quantify product costs. Information for labor and variable materials while available was stashed away in a filing cabinet, and had been unopened and unused for years. The decision was made to start from scratch to recreate the information rather than try to identify changes.
The work activities were repetitive but individual elements were long enough that the preferred work measurement technique selected was direct observation time study, augmented with occasional work sampling. Many different processes and machines were involved, and usually a controlling element of an operation was the machine cycle. Work positions were observed, mostly individual operators with an occasional crew. Expectations for each workstation were developed.
Simultaneously, the materials and variable overhead factors used in the processes were defined and added to the labor portion to create an engineered basis for cost definition and control and inserted into a descriptive format for standard costing.
The financial system was in place to accept the standard costing, so it was quickly put to use. This company engaged in international trade, and a significant reason for developing accurate standard costs was to meet provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
Relocation, On The Site, Another State
A manufacturer planned an across-town relocation of six production lines, and expected new equipment and a better layout to cut labor cost. Time study and work sampling were applied to confirm the expectations for direct and maintenance operator work and activity levels in the new location, where arrangement and dimensions were not the same.
A manufacturer with a thousand people and two major product lines relocated half of production to a plant in another state.
Work measurement confirmed and amended methods descriptions which were in effect, and established current rates. The rates were used to set up and balance production lines, establish manning levels and predict output for manufacturing and distribution at the new location.
If a workload is considered to be high or unequal, time study is used to review individual workloads. Analysis routinely identifies a practical solution to rebalance the activity, quite often a change in sequence or timing. Such instances may occur through a grievance or a major change in technology.
Time study was used in a highly automated beverage container facility to provide objective workload data for a quality inspector, and resolve a union – management disagreement. The work level was out of balance during the shift, heavily front-loaded, From observations, the content and length of each of the work elements was clear. A revision of the timing and scheduling of work elements resolved the issue for all concerned
A roofing materials manufacturer schedules periodic work measurement in the form of time study and work sampling, to quantify workloads on a manufacturing line in advance of union contract negotiations. Both company and union are informed of the results.
Standardize Internal Practices
An on-line medical billing company used an old system to set expectations for operators, who, while seated and on the telephone with a client, routinely performed their duties in front of two video screens.
The work measurement practitioners were experienced billing operators themselves, and had earlier been part of the formal training section. They learned work measurement techniques very rapidly, and used handheld electronic devices for these studies. They revised outdated practices and rates and improved output. In the eyes of management perhaps the most important contribution was to standardize practices in the departments which dealt with different geographical locations.
Bring Order To Chaos
Processors of returned and surplus merchandize buy trailer loads of unsold merchandise from big box stores, and when those large cartons of hastily boxed goods are dumped onto conveyors to be repackaged, the scene is chaotic.
Outdoor barbeque grills and bicycles can literally be in the same container with Christmas tree ornaments and cell phones and peanut butter crackers; all unsold, all scooped off store shelves and into large cartons.
Direct observation was the technique chosen by a re-packager to understand just what was happening and then to develop a sequence and workflow to rebrand and reprice the materials.
In The Warehouse Or DC
Modern electronics can decrease the labor content by providing guidance and routes to human operators and by scanning bar codes on product and locations, and work measurement will measure the new work content. Work measurement of these practices when put into effect by warehouse personnel will allow effective assignment to the variable throughput.
A distributor slimmed down the product line and placed it in another location, and took advantage of the opportunity to add electronic and mechanical assists. In the relocated Distribution Center operation, work measurement determined just how to utilize the new layout effectively, to assign and balance workloads for put-away then pick and pack lines, set output rates, and calculate manning levels.
Time study and work sampling quantified rates for lift truck drivers, to stage commercial HVAC units in an outdoor yard, and later load them for shipment to DC or customer. Then, in several distribution centers, activity of lift truck drivers was studied and timed. It was possible to established both receive and ship rates for the physical characteristics of that facility. However, as a precautionary note, geometry and distances in different DC’s may well vary enough to affect a rate. External conditions such as reliability of trucker schedule and weather are out of the control of the DC, and easily affect an outcome.
A New Set Of Eyes
Just the presence of a different set of eyes to observe a situation will be an advantage, as that set will see events from a different perspective. Especially when the viewer is an experienced work measurement practitioner, there are likely to be useful new insights.
An experienced practitioner visited a food canning company and observed a situation where a food item being filled into a container was spilling on the floor. The plant operator, used to seeing that particular spill, did not register it as a controllable waste. A brief review showed the food item was raised in order to gravity feed but the height was six feet, when three feet would have been ample. A reduction in the height and therefore the drop reduced the spill dramatically.
But The Calculation Says,
On an assembly line for a metal product, Ray-Ban Aviator model sunglasses it happened to be, occasionally there would be a shortage of a simple metal part made in an early step of the operation. The part was produced on one of four automatic machines, tended by one operator whose duties consisted of loading feedstocks of metal rods, and of unjamming the machines when they needed it.
The index speed of all four machines produced in excess of the parts that were needed for the production schedule. Therefore only one person had been assigned to keep the machine running. Why was there a problem? Well, let’s go look. Direct observation showed that the index speed was as expected, and that sometimes the machines jammed. How many jams and how long did it take to clear a jam? Often enough, and long enough that frequently more than one other machine would also jam, and sit idle while the sole operator cleared the jams.
The net effect was that the bank of machines was not producing as expected, and as a result downstream operations were starved of parts and sat idle. Adding an operator actually increased the standard cost of that part, and reduced the standard and actual cost of the sunglass. More importantly, sunglasses were sold and not backordered.
The opinion may be voiced, just fix the machines so that they don’t jam up. Maybe that is what Luxottica is doing now that they own Ray-Ban rather than Bausch & Lomb.
If You Only Read One Work Measurement Section
These topics are covered in great detail in other portions of the work measurement session. They are summarized here in one place to suggest that these are the imperative actions. The imperatives will contribute extensively to your specific objectives, but remember all work measurement projects are not the same.
A. You, and I, and the people in your company want to know what is expected of us and how well we do against expectations. Measure to set expectations, report results, require accountability, communicate.
B. Work measurement is not just for direct labor; it is just as effective in the office, the lab, the maintenance shop, the field, the customer service unit, and the warehouse as it is on a production floor. It can favorably affect costs, in service, in health care, and in government operations.
The elements of work on a production floor usually repeat, often quite rapidly. Work elements in an office, a lab, a maintenance facility, a construction unit may not repeat as frequently but work can still be observed, recorded and analyzed for its effect and improvement.
Work measurement may be of an operator, a machine, a process, a movement, any element of work whose duration is important.
C. Choose primary and secondary purposes of the work measurement you plan. Is it to be a tool to find and quantify cost reduction opportunity? Is it to contribute to a formal system, such as standard costs or product costing? The answer will suggest how to proceed.
D. As part of the process of setting purposes in C above, determine which of your formal management systems will benefit from the objective results of work measurement, such as
• Determine staffing levels as output levels vary.
• Calculate actual capacity the operation can produce.
• Assign and schedule work to people and equipment.
• Identify lost time, waste, non-value added activity.
• Offer pay related to output, such as labor incentives.
• Define the cost for the products and services you offer.
• Balance lines or work groups for optimum performance.
• Analyze variances to find problems.
• Identify and manage constraints, equipment, process, facility.
• Justify equipment and automation acquisition.
• Compare the cost to install and service products in the field, yours and competitors.
E. Decide what the extent of your measurement program will be: widespread or focused; generally descriptive or statistically accurate; for guidance or for pay. Involve unions or other employee representatives as necessary.
F. Choose in-house or consulting people to perform the program. Set goals, actions, deliverables, timetables.
G. During the first visits to the floor, pull out all of the waste movement, activity, wait, unnecessary material handling.
H. What comes first, methods or work measurement? This is a chicken-and-the-egg question which implies a linear relationship. In fact, methods and work measurement are a circular progression; create best results by performing one then the other alternately over time. If you start with methods improvement, quickly you will want to evaluate methods and you will have to time them to compare. Start with measurement, quickly you will identify other methods and will have to choose one. The only bad choice is to fail to start somewhere.
I. individual rates tend to be more accurate but require more work both to develop and to administer. Crew rates can be effective especially if teamwork is required or encouraged.
Please note a major benefit of individual rates. An operator working alone will not wait on another person. When people work as crews or teams, it is not unusual for one person to wait on another. This wait is non-value-added activity, the sworn enemy of productivity.
J. Note that there is no inherently right or wrong work measurement technique; each can have a place where it is superior to others. Some techniques will fit your application, while others will be unlikely to achieve the accuracy and cost objectives. Effective ones include:
• Time study, proven over years to be cost effective in many applications.
• Predetermined times; such as MTM, Master Standard Data, Modapts, Work Factor, the specialty systems for office or warehouses.
• Work sample, random sample, the old term ratio delay. Both time study and sampling are statistical processes. The accuracy of the resulting work measurement is a function of the number of observations.
• Electronic mechanisms to perform time study and sampling; handheld devices, phones, pads; the technology for both hardware and software changes constantly.
K. Work measurement is also well-suited for many short term issues because it is objective; “quick fix” solutions. Apply work measurement for limited scope “quick fixes”, perhaps:
• Arbitrate a disagreement about workload; is a particular position or crew overloaded, or underloaded.
• Explain a workload disagreement that can lead to a new arrangement of duties or at a different time. Workloads are often not at all even over a time frame; from start to end of a shift, during a week, especially the end of a month or quarter.
• Clear up bottlenecks which constrain production.
• Determine the proper crew size for operations. Then, balance workloads so that crew members have, as nearly as possible, the same amount of work.
• Routinely monitor crew workloads, that they are within expectations.
• Identify delay and remove it.
L. Just because there are complicating factors to work measurement, do not stop the effort to measure. Recognize that answers may not be perfectly accurate, but still perform useful service. And you can fine tune the initial mechanism to yield ever better results.
M. Be advised that the results of any measurement can report only part of the story, the final result; it does not report what caused the result.
Operating practice for labor operations
These labor and operating practices should increase productivity in most operations. unionized or not.
A. Adopt the two pillars of Toyota Production System
stated by Taiichi Ohno, widely credited with making TPS a reality. “The most important objective of the Toyota System has been to increase production efficiency by consistently and thoroughly eliminating waste. This concept and the equally important respect for humanity … are the foundations of the Toyota production system.”
B. Attract, train, and retain good employees. Encourage them to participate
Pay good wages and offer benefits to attract qualified people, cut turnover and subsequent training of replacements. Consider profit sharing or bonus to all employees as the company achieves desired financial performance, output and quality. The classic example is Lincoln Electric, considered the most productive company, from 1930’s into the 1980’s. Today their Guaranteed Continuous Employment Plan continues to provide covered employees with security against layoffs due to lack of work. Their average Profit Sharing Bonus award over the last 10 years has been 40% of an employee’s year to date, base earnings.
Sponsor formal employee participation programs to encourage ideas, contribution, and support. (Not all employees will participate or contribute, but the ones who do will justify the effort.)
C. Recognize, calculate the value of respect for humanity in your organization
Check into what Toyota does, how Lincoln Electric continues to create the innovation, product quality, productivity and global growth that they do.
Bob Emiliani in “The Profits Generator”, Lean Leadership News, 3 September 2013 says,
“I understand it is the “Respect for People” principle that enables continuous improvement, not the other way around. Therefore, the “Respect for People” principle is the profits generator.
I truly understand the importance of profits. So I coach executives to learn, among other things, that the “Respect for People” principle is the profits generator and it must not be ignored. The “Respect for People” principle is what makes material and information flow, which, in turn, is where the money is. It is where the growth is. It is where the enterprise value is.”
There is an actual cost factor manifested, perhaps insignificant compared to the value of motivated employees, and that is the actual cost of turnover of employees who choose to leave their jobs. The company needs to rehire, retrain, go through the learning curve. You can cost that out. The more valuable, skilled employees may be sought by other companies because of their skills. It is difficult to put a precise dollar sign on results of dissatisfied workers, poor performance, poor quality, absenteeism, customer complaints, but it exists.
Please appreciate, and maximize, the value of respect for humanity for your group.”
D. Use workplace methods and measurement to improve and standardize
Perform methods study for tasks, and apply ergonomics to methods and equipment. Standardize methods, but continuously improve.
Employ capable work measurement practitioners, perhaps about one engineer or tech to a hundred production employees. Establish engineered labor rates, at least reasonable expectancies, perhaps incentives.
Announce labor expectations, report results, require accountability. Use a formal improvement program for those who don’t meet expectations; improve not remove.
There are many techniques defined elsewhere, proprietary and not, to establish engineered standards. Choose the one(s) which will be cost effective for your objectives.
E. Apply the work measurement information you develop
1. Build results into standard data, apply the data for consistency, to construct new rates, as part of estimating. Build results into standard costs.
2. Using the newly created rates, balance workloads of integrated crews and assembly lines and establish the proper crew sizes for those units. The balancing operation can rearrange elements of an individual’s activity, removing or adding, so rates may need to be revised, and the process repeated once or more.
3. Is crew size set for minimum headcount or for maximum output? What do you want loaded, the operator or the constraint? These are very important questions, so be sure to answer thoughtfully especially for equipment which is a constraint or bottleneck.
For instance several automatic machines may be staffed with one attendant, who can keep up with routine functions but not with mechanical jams. Use of one operator minimizes the crew size, but if downstream machines are starved for material and their operators are idled, the overall output is constrained; unit labor cost rises, and production drops.
Perhaps a different staffing plan will be most effective, depending on whether today’s objective is high volume or low crew size. In either case, calculate the correct headcount to operate the equipment in use, from labor rates, and schedule the correct number of people to produce required output.
4. Build rates into standard cost.
5. Build rates into the expectations used to create production scheduling.
6. If possible, maintain some amount of “deferrable” work, which need not be done on a timely basis. When a process goes down and a number of people are temporarily out of work, move them to the deferrable work until their operation is back up again. Efficiency on the deferrable work may be relatively low, but it will be better than the zero that otherwise would occur.
7. Be extremely aware of how very high costs can occur, inside the facility or later as a result of facility output. (Think lost batches, personal injury, product recall.) Double down on safeguards to prevent loss now or later.
Benefits of work measurement
Perhaps the most important management tool
How long does the job take? Arguably, this is the most valuable fact for a business to know. Possess this simple bit of information and your organization can:
• quantify the amount of labor you’ll pay for
• determine staffing levels as output levels vary
• calculate actual capacity the operation can produce
• assign and schedule work to people and equipment
• identify lost time, waste, non-value added activity
• offer pay related to output, labor incentives
• define the cost for the products and services you offer
• balance lines or work groups for optimum performance
• analyze variance to find problems
• identify and manage constraints, equipment, process, facility
• justify equipment and automation acquisition
• meet the Sarbanes Oxley Act for financial understanding of costs
• compare the cost to install and service products in the field, yours and competitors
A. Cost benefits that will accrue, after work measurement activity
Generally when “Productivity” is discussed, we really mean “Labor”, the people side of the manufacturing enterprise. That cost will not usually be the largest, but because labor produces the organization’s services and products, its performance is critical beyond the mere labor cost.
Actual benefits are likely to include significant contribution to corporate goals:
• Faster throughput of materials from receipt to shipment
• Better (faster) customer service because of lower, standardized processing
• Less warehouse inventory, as material is on hand a shorter time
• Less warehouse space, as less inventory is on hand
• Product costing and pricing will be more objective and standardized
• And of course we anticipate lower labor costs with objective engineered standards.
B. Set expectations, measure and communicate
All of us want to know what is expected of us and how well we do against expectations. Employees want to know also about their group and the company. Work measurement is an objective system to state expectations, to determine how well individuals and small groups produce results. Financial calculations work well for larger groups, but not so for individuals.
In this economy, people are more apprehensive than usual, so expectations and measurement and communication are even more important.
A very effective executive gave out wall plaques that said Results Count. Work measurement can be measured, and results can be quantified and compared.
Whenever work measurement Is established, very commonly it is accompanied by a reporting system if one does not already exist. Such a system will report on production units, on the resources usually labor hours required to produce them, and on delays and the reasons for delays. This visible record will highlight problems and oftentimes a solution as well. Reliable reporting will contribute significantly. A combined system to express expectations and measure performance can be a key part of improvement.
Just because there are complicating factors to work measurement, do not stop the effort to measure. Recognize that answers may not be perfectly accurate, but still perform useful service. And you can fine tune the initial mechanism to yield ever better results.
Be advised that the results of any measurement can report only part of the story, the final result; it does not report what caused the result. For instance, the much emulated Toyota Production System emphasizes personal development of line workers and supervisors, which is usually accomplished by employee training. In a work measurement summary, training may well appear to be unproductive time but would shortly lead to even higher productivity as learned lessons are put into effect.
Which measurement technique?
Choose to fit your objectives, budget, timetable. Your purpose will influence the type of measurement you will employ.
A. Choose an approach to fit your objectives, budget, timetable.
There are many circumstances for which work measurement is an attractive strategy. A technique will address different objectives, budgets, and timetables differently.
You may choose from a limited scope of work measurement, or a vast undertaking; set narrow objectives or the establishment of work measurement as the basis for an integrated approach to control. Put forth an initial phase, accomplish it and review costs and benefits, then take the next step.
None of the strategies is inherently useful, by the way. You may have the right reasons but select the wrong methodology and eventually be dissatisfied.
B. Do you want to set incentives or quantify expectations or balance workload?
Your purpose will influence the type of measurement you will want to employ.
Four types of systems generally cover most work measurement.
1. Day work does not involve a difference in pay for different output. Labor standards, or rates, are developed in an organized fashion, but perhaps with less attention to detail than incentives. Typically the supervisor or manager will administer a control method, by which the output of each operator is recorded daily and compared to a norm.
2. Engineered standards is the term for data which have been objectively and rationally collected for the purpose of definition and control of operations. Engineered standards can include labor, equipment and capacity expectations and standard cost information.
3. Reasonable expectancies are an entry level engineered standard, but still with early definition of methods and elimination of delay and interference; followed by work measurement. Often the jobs are less structured and more variable so that close documentation is not cost justified. Typically the supervisor or manager will administer a control method, by which the output of each operator is recorded daily and compared to expectancies.
4. Incentives or piece work are a rigorously engineered standard, systems that offer more pay for more output that meets quality specs. Incentives will usually be carefully developed as regards the one best way, pace rating during observation, and number of observations of several operators. Incentives require a level of administrative support as well, because each operator’s performance must be calculated daily and pay rates administered.
Because incentives determine pay, they are more carefully developed than measured day work, which is more carefully developed than reasonable expectancies.
A difference in opinion about operator workloads or a constraints issue may arise in any of the categories, and is usually addressed by targeted time study of relatively short duration. These are a “quick fix” as opposed to the four longer term programs; see below.
C. What is the appropriate tool; time study, work sample or predetermined times?
First let’s describe them briefly; a much more detailed analysis is offered in the manual.
1. Observation time study
The original idea was to observe work, time how long it took and write it down. Although there are now better equipment and technical nuances, that is still the idea.
The elements of work on a production floor usually repeat, often quite rapidly. Work elements in an office, a lab, a maintenance facility, a construction unit may not repeat as frequently. In both cases the work can be observed and recorded, but not necessarily with the same watch or observation sheet.
In order to observe and quantify work times, a standard stop watch with a sweep hand has been the norm, but digital readouts with big numbers are easier to read and hand held phone or pads, with apps, are available. A video camera can be used, in order to create a permanent record or allow discussion later. Reading the tape takes no less time in the office, and an observer on the floor provides much more flexibility to ask questions or make mid-course correction during the study.
Look at the particular job you will observe and set up an observation sheet beforehand based on the elements in a repetitive cycle. Then start observing, record the elements in a cycle, then repeat as the operator does.
Measurement of a job which repeats frequently is different from one which does not. Individual operators or crews maybe studied.
You will have to keep one eye on the work, one on the observation device, maybe even one on the observation sheet. If an element creates a sound when it happens, use that to help you pick up the work time. Electronic devices help those without three eyes.
Work measurement may be of an operator, a machine, a process, a movement, any element of work whose duration is important. Don’t assume that a mechanism will always take the same amount of time to perform its function; that is not always true.
Fast moving technology may be alleviating the time study burden. We will not go into detail, because the technology may have changed by the time you read this. Great idea, can reduce the engineering time in several ways and improve accuracy, especially for repetitive studies. Set up the study in advance, then keep your eye on the work while you push keys to record times. You will decide whether to have the entire system on your own phone and computer, or whether you want a hosted program for analysis and archiving, on a subscription basis.
2. Work sample, random sample, or the old term ratio delay.
Originally “ratio delay” determined the amount of work, and of delay, through work observation at random times, not continually. Work sample is a more modern phrase, but measures the same way, not continually but randomly.
Work sampling is a most effective way to learn quickly about an unfamiliar situation with several interdependent activities. It can even be used to understand general aspects of repetitive functions where many people perform the same work. And of course it quantifies delay and non-cyclic activity quite well.
Please note that continuous time study is also a work sample; it is just all at once whereas random sampling is spread out over a longer time. There is little difference in philosophy, just in logistics.
In practice, work sampling may be done in person or with video recording. One operation may be observed, or multiple operations and people, allied or dissimilar.
Select random times for the observer to start rounds, in order to see all conditions throughout a time frame, because some work occurs differently at startup, or shift change. Some work occurs during steady state operation and some at changeover. An observer may also stay in the area constantly, finish a round then start another.
The observer must prepare in advance by recording all of the equipment and people to be observed, and all of the categories of activity and non-activity to be recorded.
If the study objective is to quantify “delay”, or “work” in total for a group, then accurate results will be quickly evident. If the objective is to differentiate between different work elements, and different causes for delay during different times of day then the observation sheet will be more complicated and accurate results will take longer (but probably be more useful).
Work sampling of multiple operations more or less continually to learn generally what goes on in a work center is effective and produces rapid results. Record work, delay and interference instances fairly definitively, while asking questions; what and why. See how work is assigned and followed, what other people interrelate. Quantify times and frequencies. Later, zero in on the specific work with time study.
3. Pre-determined times
Predetermined times are proprietary systems that have over long observation developed the amount of time required for basic motions. The Gilbreth’s started the concept with “Therbligs”, 17 basic motions and their times.
As the name implies, pre-determined systems have been developed in advance, and a particular motion is defined to require a certain time. Motions groups have been combined into tasks, to reduce the time to apply the rates, to build up useful values.
Modern proprietary pre-determined systems include MTM, Modapts, MSD. MOST, Work Factor, and adaptations developed by companies.
Practitioners have their preferences, as each vendor will be considered to be superior for one or another application, such as a factory, or office, or warehouse.
Work factor and MTM, Methods-Time Measurement, recognize extremely short motions that occur in highly repetitive motions. These motions don’t take long in the first place, and because of very frequent repetition and muscle memory, operators require even less time than perhaps the book allows. Such “ballistic” motions are not uncommon in repetitive work, and if you will measure them you had better use a detailed system such as MTM.
Modapts, MSD and MOST, accumulate predetermined times into larger groups. For highly repetitive work they may not be as accurate as MTM but for more variable work they can take significantly less time to apply.
Warehouse and distribution centers practitioners have their favorites as well, swearing by particular programs.
In any of these proprietary systems you must deal with one of the sponsoring organizations, and become accredited in application. Please see the web sites for the particular organizations.
Options for work measurement; choose to fit your objectives
An organization has a choice of techniques. This section will discuss options, to relate the objective to the most appropriate techniques. Work measurement assists an organization to improve productivity, but let’s get more specific. “Productivity” is a worthwhile goal, but organizations usually face a more well defined challenge. Just exactly what action does one take, in a particular situation?
1. Work measurement is also well-suited for many short term issues “quick fix” solutions because it is objective.
Apply work measurement for limited scope “quick fixes”, perhaps:
• Arbitrate a disagreement about workload; is a particular position or crew overloaded, or underloaded. Employ a short, objective, focused time study or work sampling; few days or a week.
• Clear up bottlenecks which constrain production. Scope will depend on number of bottlenecks. Identify the bottleneck thru performance records or local knowledge. Observe, use time study, work sampling, man-machine charts to quantify. Manage constraint by rearranging work elements, relieve, change speeds, balance a line, add accumulation conveyor, consider equipment acquisition.
• Determine the proper crew size for operations. Then, balance workloads so that crew members have approximately the same amount of work. Use time study and work sampling to quantify activity; rearrange work elements or flow; consider equipment acquisition.
• Routinely monitor crew workloads, that they are within expectations, perhaps to prepare for union negotiations. Apply work sampling, with a single set of written guidelines, for uniform and consistent results.
• Identify delay in a wide or limited work area by use of work sampling, which was originally called ratio delay because it is so well suited.
2. Options to establish an extensive work measurement system.
In all cases, build a data bank of the information collected, to standardize the rates set and reduce application cost.
• Short cycle jobs, for incentive. Predetermined times, MTM or Work factor
• Longer cycle, for incentive. Predetermined times, Modapts, MOST, MSD. Confirm with work sample.
• Longer cycle, reasonable expectancies. Modapts, MOST, MSD, time study, work sample.
• Standard cost. Observe actual situation; time study, work sample.
• Indirect manpower. Understand where indirect manpower spends time, in order to allocate overhead accurately; apply work sample.
3. Further detail about the attributes of Time Study and Work Sampling
There are several factors to consider in order to select time study or sampling. Often both time study and work sampling should be used, each will be useful for one purpose and less useful for another.
a. Purpose of work measurement
What is the purpose of the measurement? If you want to set an incentive standard for assemblers seated at a workbench, time study (or predetermined times) is the choice. If your objective is to determine an approximate workload of material handlers, maintenance, or inspectors spread across a warehouse, sampling is a good choice.
Work sampling is a most effective way to learn quickly about an unfamiliar situation with several interdependent activities. It can even be used to understand general aspects of repetitive functions where many people perform the same work. And of course it quantifies delay and non-cyclic activity quite well.
Two sections below have a significant effect on the choice of measurement technique as well, practice opportunity and crew size.
b. Objectives and mechanics of observations
1) Time study is continual observation, in order to record all the activity that a person performs over a period of time. The observer will define and time all activity, work, delay, personal, interruptions, problems, whatever, for the person observed. Usually the observation period is over a short period of time, often for 50 cycles, or 100 cycles of operator performance. Observation may be repeated later for other workers.
2) Work sampling is periodic observation repeated over a longer time; a record of what activity occurs at the particular instant of time when the observer is looking at the activity. Usually intermittent times are selected at random, many observations repeated over a time frame, so that the observer does not appear in the area on a predictable pattern or path. Several people can easily be observed during one study, a crew or work group. I like to walk into the work area, and when I am in a position to see all the activity, observe many workers at a glance, then stop to record what I have seen.
Both time study and sampling are statistical processes. The accuracy of the resulting work measurement is a function of the number of observations, and this book does not explore those statistics, forgive me. Search the web for “time study statistics”, if you need further information.
One factor that generates accuracy rapidly for sampling is crew size; one sample is at a given time, but you will observe all of the people in a crew.
d. Practice opportunity
1. Time study will be more effective to measure workers who repeat the same motions very frequently, with short cycle times. Higher practice opportunity will allow these people to have highly repetitive motions and little variation from the allowed time.
2. Sampling is best for people who have a wider range of work elements and longer cycle times. They may well perform the same actions repetitively, but with less frequency, therefore will have less opportunity to develop highly repetitive motions. In this category are material handlers, shipping and receiving, maintenance both demand and preventive, tenders of automatic machines, inspectors, set up and changeover, cleanup workers, installers, field workers, customer service, any troubleshooting.
e. Crew size
1. A time study can record well what one person does and how long it takes. It is even possible to view two or maybe three at the same time, but it takes skill.
2. Sampling works very well as a measure of a crew or work group, even if spread over a geographic area such as a plant or warehouse floor. If their work is related, so much the better because the observation sheet can record when two more are working together, as well as how the available work is spread out at each observation. An observer may not record the activity of all the crew at the same instant; that is not a problem but be sure to account for all members each cycle.
f. Delay and random occurrence; as necessary elements
The old name of work sampling was “ratio delay”, for it was used effectively to determine the amount of delay in a process, over a period of time. That is still an excellent reason to use sampling, especially if several interrelated people of machines are involved. The downside is that many observations are necessary to accumulate an accurate evaluation for one individual machine, or process, or person.
Time study is usually for a relatively short time, while sampling observations usually take place over a longer period of time. As a result of a longer cycle, sampling has a better statistical chance of seeing very infrequent random elements of work or delay, and may even pick up observations for bench workers who have been time studied.
4. Results standardization through pre-determined times
The US Department of Defense is requiring suppliers