Friday, September 29, 2017




CONSIDERED in relation to the time during which it has been applied to the trades, scientific motion study can show most satisfactory results.

The workers in the field as well as in the office have been quick to appreciate and adopt the new methods suggested by motion economy.

This has been especially the case in the crafts. Nearly every proficient workman loves his trade. He loves the joy of achievement. He can achieve most when useless motions have been eliminated for him, and he welcomes improvements, as the bricklayers have welcomed the brick coming right side up on the packet.


To the casual reader it may seem that the task of evolving standard practice from usual present practice, and
from the best practice, is simply a case of observing, recording, and eliminating. The student will see that it
requires the closest concentration to do even the necessary scientific observing and recording, while to deduce and systematize standard motions for any one trade would furnish a life work for several trained scientists.

It is a difficult task for an inexperienced or untrained observer to divide an operation correctly into its motions.  Enumerating the variables that affect each motion is a task big enough to satisfy the most ambitious student of waste elimination.


We have found it helpful in recording our observations to use charts. Some such form as that shown on pages 88 and 89 is used.

This chart is one made during an observation of bricklaying before the invention of the packet, the packet scaffold, and the fountain trowel.

The operation of laying a brick was divided into the motions of which it consisted (column i). The usual (present) practice of the time (given as "the wrong way," column 2) showed the units into which the operation was divided. The best practice of the time ("the right way," column 3, now obsolete) was charted in such a way that its relation from a motion standpoint to the usual practice was clearly shown.

Column 4 shows how the usual practice may be transformed into the best practice. It would serve as an instruction card to the workman, showing him not only where his method needed to be improved but also exactly how to improve it.

This chart, together with a plan showing the workman where he should put the stock and where he should place his feet (Fig. 14), and with pictures showing how he should lay the brick, etc., proved most successful for instruction as well as for recording.

At first glance this chart, and the others like it, which we used at that time, seem very crude. In fact, compared to what has since been done to standardize operations, they are crude. But they mark a distinct phase of motion study. They show plainly, as careful reading will prove, that an earnest study of motions will automatically promote the growth of the study.

For example, study of column 4 in the sample chart given led to the invention of the packet scaffold, the packet, the fountain trowel, and several other of the best devices, and the u packet-on- the- wall" method now used in brickwork.

These inventions in their turn necessitated an entirely new set of motions to perform the operation of laying a brick.

So, likewise, the progression also went on before the days of conscious motion study: observation, explanation, invention, elimination, and again observation, in an upward helix of progress.

The great point to be observed is this: Once the variables of motions are determined, and the laws of underlying motions and their efficiency deduced, conformity to these laws will result in standard motions, standard tools, standard conditions, and standard methods of performing the operations of the trades.

Conformity to these laws allows standard practice to be attained and used. If the standard methods are deduced before the equipment, tools, surroundings, etc., are standardized, the invention of these standard means is as sure as the appearance of a celestial body at the time and place where mathematics predicts that it will appear.

It is as well to recognize first as last that real progress from the best present method to the standard method can never be made solely by elimination. The sooner this is recognized the better. Elimination is often an admirable makeshift. But the only real progress comes through a reconstruction of the operation, building it up of standardized units, or elements.

It is also well to recognize the absolute necessity of the trained scientific investigator. The worker cannot, by himself, arrange to do his work in the most economical manner in accordance with the laws of motion study. Oftentimes, in fact nearly always, the worker will believe that the new
method takes longer than the old method. At least he will be positive that many parts, or elements, of the process when done under the new method take longer than under the old style, and will not be in sympathy with the scheme because he is sure that the new way is not so efficient as his old way. All of which shows that the worker himself cannot tell which are the most advantageous motions. He must judge by the fatigue that he feels, or else by the quantity of output accomplished in a given
time. To judge by the quantity of output accomplished in a given time is more of a test of effort than a test of motion study, and oftentimes that element that will produce the most output is the one that will cause the least fatigue.

The difference in amount of merit between any two methods can perhaps be best determined by timing the elements of the motions used in each. This is the method of attack usually accepted as best, because it separates each motion into its variables and analyzes them one at a time. It is out of the question to expect a workman to do such timing and to do his work at the same time. Furthermore, it is an art in itself to take time-study observations, an art that probably takes longer to master than does shorthand, typewriting, telegraphy, or drafting.

Few workers have had an opportunity to learn the art of making and using time-study observations, because our school educators have not had any mental grasp of the subject themselves. Add to the difficulties to be overcome in acquiring the knowledge of observing, recording, and analyzing the time-study records, the knowledge necessary to build up synthetically the correct method with each element strictly in accordance with the laws of motion economy each by itself and when used together in the particular determined sequence, and you will see the reason why the worker by himself has not devised, cannot, and never will be expected to devise, the ultimate method of output. It does not then, after all, seem so queer that the workman's output can always be doubled and oftentimes more than tripled by scientific motion study. Again, scientifically attained methods only can become Ultimate methods.

Any method which seems after careful study to have attained perfection, using absolutely the least number of most effective, shortest motions, may be thrown aside when a new way of transporting or placing material or men is introduced. It is pitiful to think of the time, money, strength, and brains that have been wasted on devising and using wonderfully clever but not fundamentally derived methods of doing work, which must inevitably be discarded for the latter.

The standardizing of the trades will utilize every atom of such heretofore wasted energy.

The standardizing of the trades affords a definite best method of doing each element.

Having but one standard method of doing each element divides the amount of time-study data necessary to take by a number equal to the number of different equally good methods that could be used.

The greatest step forward can be made only when time-study data can be made by one and used by all. A system of interchange and cooperation in the use of the data of scientific management can then be used by all persons interested.

This reduction and simplification of taking time study is the real reason for insistence upon making and maintaining standards for the largest down to the smallest insignificant tool or device used.

Much toward standardizing the trades has already been done. In this, as in almost countless other lines of activity, the investigator turns oftenest with admiration to the work of Frederick W. Taylor. It is the never-ceasing marvel concerning this man that age cannot wither nor custom stale his work. After many a weary day's study the investigator awakes from a dream of greatness to find that he has only worked out a new proof for a problem that Taylor has already solved.

Time study, the instruction card, functional foreman-ship, the differential rate piece method of compensation, and numerous other scientifically derived methods of decreasing costs and increasing output and wages these are by no means his only contributions toward standardizing the trades whose value it would be difficult to overestimate; they are but a few of the means toward attaining
standards which have been placed by Taylor, their discoverer, within the hands of any man willing to use them.


The great need to-day in standardizing the trades is for cooperation. In other times all excellent methods or means were held as "trade secrets," sometimes lost to the world for generations until rediscovered. The day for this is past. Thinkers of to-day recognize that the work to be done is so great that, given all that every one has accomplished and is accomplishing, there is room and to
spare for every worker who cares to enter the field. Cooperation and team work is the crying need.

Conservation and comparison of knowledge, experiments, data and conclusions are what we need. The various engineering journals are to be commended for recognizing the importance of this, and for furnishing an excellent means for recording and spreading much needed information.

The ideal conservator of knowledge in this, as in all other branches, would be the United States government. The government should maintain a permanent bureau, with experiment stations, as is done with the Department of Agriculture.

Individual investigators, corporations, and colleges, all would be willing to turn over the results of their work to such a government bureau. The colleges would cooperate with such a bureau, as do the agricultural colleges with the Department of Agriculture. The bulletins of such a bureau would be invaluable to the men in the trades, as are the agricultural bulletins to the farmers.

The Department of Agriculture is an excellent model. The form for a department or bureau of trades is all at hand. It is only necessary to translate the language of agriculture into the language of labor. It is only through such a bureau that the trades can formally be standardized.

Such a bureau would have two main tasks: (i) To subclassify the trades; (2) To standardize the trades.
The first task should be successfully completed before the second is undertaken.

We have spoken briefly, in considering cost of motions, o the necessity of separating those motions that require skill from those that require nothing but strength and endurance.

This sub-classifying of the trades according to the types or grades of motions that they use, or according to the brawn, brain, training, and skill required to make the motions, will cut down production costs. It will raise the standards of all classes. It will do away with differences between employers and employees. It will eliminate unnecessary waste. It will raise the wages of all workers.
It will reduce the cost of living.

We might call such a sub-classification as desired a " functional" classification of the trades.

For example, for brickwork we recommend five classes:

Class A. Ornamental and exterior face brick and molded terra cotta.

Class B. Interior face tiers that do not show at completion, where strong, plumb, and straight work only is needed.

Class C. Filling tiers where only strength is needed.

Class D. Putting fountain trowels and brick packs on the wall near the place, and in the manner where the other three classes can reach them with greatest economy of motion.

Class E. Pack loaders, brick cullers, and stage builders.

The pay of the A and B classes should be considerably higher than is customary for bricklayers. The pay of the C, D, and E classes should be lower than is customary for bricklayers, but much higher than the pay of laborers. This classification will raise the pay of all five classes higher than they could ever obtain in the classes that they would ordinarily work in under the present system, yet the resulting cost of the labor on brickwork would be much less, and each class would be raised in its standing and educated for better work and higher wages.

In the case of brickwork this new classification is a crying necessity, as the cost of brickwork must be reduced to a point where it can compete with concrete. Improvements in making, methods of mixing, transporting, and densifying concrete in the metal molds of to-day have put the entire brickwork proposition where it can be used for looks only, because for strength, imperviousness, quickness of construction, lack of union labor troubles, and low cost, brickwork cannot compete with concrete
under present conditions.

Having sub-classified the trades, the second step is to standardize them.

And both classification and standardization demand motion study.

The United States government has already spent millions and used many of the best of minds on the subject of motion study as applied to war; the motions of the sword, gun, and bayonet drill are wonderfully perfect from the standpoint of the requirements of their use. This same study should be applied to the arts of peace.

It is obvious that this work must and will be done in time. But there is inestimable loss in every hour of delay. The waste of energy of the workers in the industries to-day is pitiful. But it is far more important that the coming generation of workers should be scientifically trained.

The science of management of the future will demand that the trades be taught in accordance with the motion standards of a United States Bureau of Standardization of Mechanical Trades. The present method of teaching an apprentice is the most unbusinesslike event that takes place in any of our industrial institutions.

We have never heard of a trades school, manual training school, or technical school that makes any attempt to solve questions of motion study. The usual process is to teach a student or apprentice to do his work well first, and after he has finally accomplished the art of making or doing the thing in question, then to expect him to learn to do it quickly. This process is a relic of the dark ages. A novice should be taught to do what he is trying to do with certain definite motions, and to repeat the operation until he is able automatically to use the standard motions and do good work.

If an apprentice bricklayer, blacksmith, or tool sharpener, for example, is not instructed to count his motions when doing a certain piece of work, he will surely get into the habit of making extra motions that cannot be omitted later without almost as much effort as that spent in learning the trade. There is little incentive for an old mechanic to teach a boy so that he will excel his teacher, and perhaps run him out of a job about the time that he, the apprentice, becomes expert.

One of the most common causes for neglecting the important subject of motion study is that the boss of the establishment is not himself really a master of the trade that is being taught, or, if he was master once, has forgotten it because there are no books or systems that have so described, charted, and illustrated his trade as to refresh his memory.

Again the teacher is often a mechanic who is not trained to impart what knowledge he has, has never studied pedagogy, and is expected to do a full day's work at the same time that he is teaching his apprentice.

The arts and trades of human beings should be studied, charted, photographed, and motion-pictured, and every employer, apprentice, and student should be able to receive bulletins of his trade for a sum equal to the cost to a farmer of a bulletin from the Department of Agriculture instructing how to increase the outputs of cows, hens, and bees.

One great aid toward cutting down the work of every one out of the trades as well as in, would be the standardizing of our written alphabet to conform to the laws of motion study. The most offhand analysis of our written alphabet shows that it is full of absolutely useless strokes, all ** f which require what are really wasted motions.

Consider the single example of the first stroke on the first letter of each word. Here is a motion that can be eliminated wholly. While its existence is necessary in type that represents handwriting or imitates engraved plate work, and in enameled separate letters of window signs, its adoption and use in handwriting is of no purpose and is wrong from the standpoint of motion economy.

Each letter of our written alphabet is a natural deviation from our printed alphabet that is the result of leaving the pencil on the paper.

Now the time has arrived for revising our written language by means of a new scientifically invented alphabet specially devised for the purpose of securing clearer writing, made of connected letters, each designed of itself and in connection with all the other letters, so that it conforms to the laws of motion economy. This is not a suggestion that we should adopt stenographic signs for words or sounds,
although a general knowledge of one standard stenographic system would also be a great benefit to a nation.

The suggestion is, that in as much as it is the aim of our nation that all citizens should be able to read and write, a new written alphabet should be devised for us that shall conform to the laws of motion study, that we all can increase either our outputs in writing or else that we all may be able to do such writing as we are obliged to do in less time.

It is to be hoped that an international society of highly trained educators, similar to those composing the Simplified Spelling Board, may be called together, as was the Simplified Spelling Board, to give this matter immediate attention. A written alphabet for all languages of the world should be determined and used not only by the users of each language, but also by the societies advocating
and promulgating such world's second or international languages as Volapiik and Esperanto.

One great drawback to the more rapid progress of any artificial or second language has been the difficulty of reading the correspondence between enthusiasts who were proficient in speaking their thoroughly agreed upon international language.

It would not be desirable to abandon our present written alphabet. There are now literally hundreds of different styles of lettering that all can read, yet how few of them can any of us make with pen or pencil.

To add one more style of lettering to the now existing hundreds could scarcely be considered as confusing by even those who are constitutionally opposed to changes in anything.

Therefore, there should be devised one more style of lettering, specially adapted to cutting down the time of writing and adding to the general legibility when written quickly.

Let this be our second written language. Let us use the present system and the new one. Let the generations to come have the benefit of the application of science to their future writing, and let the present style be also used, provided it does not die the natural death in the combat of the survival of the fittest.

We may have to wait for international coinage, international postage stamps, international courts, international arbitration, and international weights and measures; but there can be no reason for not having an international system of written alphabetical characters, and while having it let us decide in favor of that system that fulfills the requirements of motion study, both of the hand in making, and of the eye in reading.


In the meantime, while we are waiting for the politicians and educators to realize the importance of this subject and to create the bureaus and societies to undertake and complete the work, we need not be idle. There is work in abundance to be done.

Motion study must be applied to all the industries. Our trade schools and colleges can:

1. Observe the best work of the best workers.

2. Photograph the methods used.

3. Record the methods used.

4. Record outputs.

5. Record costs.

6. Deduce laws.

7. Establish laboratories "for trying out laws."

8. Embody laws in instructions.

9. Publish bulletins.

10. Cooperate to spread results and to train the rising

This is the era now. We have a scientific method of attack, and we have also scientific methods of teaching.

The stereoscopic camera and stereoscope, the motion picture machines, and the stereopticon enable us to observe, record, and teach as one never could in the past.


The " pack-on-the-wall "method is the latest development and is an actual direct
result of motion study. It has again  changed the entire method of laying brick by reducing the kind, number, sequence and length of motions. It reduces the fatigue of the bricklayer and he is therefore able to make more rapid motions.

The economic value of motion study has been proved by the fact that by means of it workmen's outputs have been more than tripled, production costs lowered, and wages increased simultaneously.

This book is written for the express purpose of calling to the attention of the nation that what has been done in a few trades can be done in each and every trade.

The most important matter before the public to-day is the creation and operation of a department at Washington for discovering, collecting, conserving and disseminating data relating to Taylor's method of Intensive Management commonly called Scientific Management.

Please Give Your Comments.

What is the relevance of Gilbreth's initial writing on Motion Study today?
What are new developments in this area?
What are new scientific discoveries related to human effort productivity?
What are new developments in human effort productivity engineering?
What are new development sin human effort productivity management?

Updated 30 September 2017, 19 August 2015

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