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Work Measurement Specialists and Consulting Engineers: Improve Productivity, Reduce Costs, Improve Profit

Work Measurement Studies

Work Measurement Study is a general term used to describe the systematic application of industrial engineering techniques to establish the work content and time it should take to complete a task or series of tasks.

Work measurement is a productivity improvement tool. Before improvements can be made, the current productivity level of an organization must be measured. This measurement is then used as a baseline to determine if improvement projects have resulted in genuine improvement.

Work measurement helps to uncover non-value added areas of waste, inconsistency, and non-standardization that exist in the workplace. Work measurement studies uncover ways to make work easier, and to produce products or services more quickly and economically.

Work is measured for four reasons:

  1. To discover and eliminate lost or ineffective time.
  2. To establish standard times for performance measurement.
  3. To measure performance against realistic expectations.
  4. To set operating goals and objectives.

Work measurement involves the use of engineered labor standards to measure and control the amount of time required to perform a specific task or tasks. While labor standards are most commonly associated with manufacturing or production environments, standards are used in many other types of settings including, but not limited to:

  • service or administrative,
  • warehousing and distribution,
  • retail,
  • janitorial,
  • medical and utilities.

man with clipboard and employee

Work Measurement Techniques

Under the work measurement umbrella there are a number of techniques for collecting the information necessary to develop engineered labor standards.

Time Study is the most widely used work measurement technique that employs a decimal minute stopwatch to record and determine the time required by a qualified and well-trained person working at a normal pace to do a specific task under specified conditions. The result of the time study is the time that a person suited to the job and fully trained in the specified method will need to perform the job if they work at a normal or standard pace.

Predetermined Time Systems are a technique of motion study and time standards development. The motions of the work or task performed are recorded. Each basic motion has a time value associated with it. Once all the motions for the task have been recorded, the time values are totaled and the standard time for the operation is developed.

Standard Time Data (Standard Data) is a generic term given to a collection of time values. Standard data uses work elements from time studies or other work measurement sources making it unnecessary to restudy work elements that have been timed adequately in the past. These element times are extracted from studies and applied to jobs or tasks with the same element(s). Some examples of standard data development include graphs, tables, charts, formulas and spreadsheet programs.

Work Sampling is a random sampling technique (statistical sampling theory) that involves observing the worker(s) at randomly selected times and recording the type of activity that is observed at that instance. Work sampling is most commonly used to collect information for allowance calculation, to determine the distribution of work activities, and to determine the productive and non-productive utilization of workers.