Revamping Time and Motion Studies

Revamping Time and Motion Studies

January 31, 2019

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. Continue reading

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Can Automation Save the Bangladeshi Garment Industry?

Can Automation Save the Bangladeshi Garment Industry?

December 10, 2018

Second only to China in the world’s clothing export markets, Bangladesh focuses on efficiency in its textile factories to defend its market in the face of increased competition from Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, and some African countries.

Automation helps Bangladesh modernize apparel factories, with two workers able to do the work of 15.  These improvements help offset increasing costs, as the government mandates a 51% wage hike, and Western brands demand better fire and safety standards in the factories.


Video Spotlight: How Automation Impacts Garment Workers in Bangladesh


This post is based on the Nikkei Asian Review article, Bangladesh fights for future of its garment industry, by Mitsuru Obe, November 4, 2018, and the YouTube video, How Automation Impacts Garment Workers in Bangladesh, by Electric Runway, June 7, 2018. Image source: igor kisselev / Alamy Stock Photo.

Discussion Questions:

1. How does the cost of production in Bangladesh compare to that of other countries, and how does it impact the viability of its apparel industry?

Guidance: Currently, labor costs in Bangladesh remain low by global standards, with an average monthly wage of $101, compared to $518 in China.  However, some African countries like Ethiopia have average Continue reading

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