Revamping Time and Motion Studies

January 31, 2019
Revamping Time and Motion Studies

A new survey indicates that humans, not machines, perform 72 percent of manufacturing tasks.  However, when companies look at improving efficiency, they often overlook how to make humans more productive and focus instead on how to replace them with automation.

Robots are well suited for some tasks, but many other tasks still require the human touch.  In addition, industrial engineers often use time and motion study techniques which, while valuable, have been in use since Henry Ford’s days in the early 1900’s.

Perhaps it’s time to use new data gathering methodologies to increase worker productivity.

This post is based on the Design News article, Is it time to make human workers more efficient?, by Rob Spiegel, January 2, 2019. Image source: auremar/123RF.

Discussion Questions:

1. Why don’t companies spend more time analyzing workers to improve their efficiency?

Guidance: According to the article, manufacturers often put a greater emphasis on the potential benefits of automation because of the difficulties in quantifying investments and potential payoffs associated with improving worker proficiency.

Also, it takes a great deal of time for industrial engineers to conduct these studies. The measurement techniques have not changed to reflect the digital age.

2. What shortcomings exist in the traditional methods for measuring worker processes?

Guidance: The researchers suggest that although the underlying principles of traditional time and motion studies are still legitimate, they are difficult to implement on a large scale. They are primarily manual techniques.  The researchers believe that larger, more thorough data sets are needed to really provide the information to help employees perform at their optimum levels.


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