Time study is the process of determining the time required by a skilled, well trained operator working at a normal pace doing a specific task.
Time study is a direct and continuous observation of a task, using a timekeeping device (e.g., decimal minute stopwatch, computer-assisted electronic stopwatch, and videotape camera) to record the time taken to accomplish a task and it is often used when:
* there are repetitive work cycles of short to long duration,
* wide variety of dissimilar work is performed, or
* process control elements constitute a part of the cycle.
A time study is a work measurement technique consisting of careful time measurement of the task with a time measuring instrument, adjusted for any observed variance from normal effort or pace and to allow adequate time for such items as foreign elements, unavoidable or machine delays, rest to overcome fatigue, and personal needs
The systems of time and motion studies are frequently assumed to be interchangeable terms, descriptive of equivalent theories. However, the underlying principles and the rationale for the establishment of each respective method are dissimilar, despite originating within the same school of thought.
The application of science to business problems, and the use of time-study methods in standard setting and the planning of work, was pioneered by Frederick Winslow Taylor. Taylor liaised with factory managers and from the success of these discussions wrote several papers proposing the use of wage-contingent performance standards based on scientific time study. At its most basic level time studies involved breaking down each job into component parts, timing each part and rearranging the parts into the most efficient method of working. By counting and calculating, Taylor wanted to transform management, which was essentially an oral tradition, into a set of calculated and written techniques.
Taylor and his colleagues placed emphasis on the content of a fair day's work, and sought to maximise productivity irrespective of the physiological cost to the worker. For example, Taylor thought unproductive time usage (soldering) to be the deliberate attempt of workers to promote their best interests and to keep employers ignorant of how fast work could be carried out. This instrumental view of human behaviour by Taylor, prepared the path for human relations to supersede scientific management in terms of literary success and managerial application. The following is a simple guide for a direct time study:
1. Define and document the standard method.
2. Divide the task into work elements.
Steps 1 and 2 These two steps are primary steps conducted prior to actual timing. They familiarise the analyst with the task and allow the analyst to attempt to improve the work procedure before defining the standard time.
3. Time the work elements to obtain the observed time for the task.
4. Evaluate the worker's pace relative to standard performance (performance rating), to determine the normal time.
Note that steps 3 and 4 are accomplished simultaneously. During these steps, several different work cycles are timed, and each cycle performance is rated independently. Finally, the values collected at these steps are averaged to get the normalised time.
5. Apply an allowance to the normal time to compute the standard time. The allowance factors that are needed in the work are then added to compute the standard time for the task.