Work Study Definition
British Standard 3138: 1969 No. 10001
Work Study is defined as:
“A management service based on those techniques, particularly method study and work measurement, which are used in the examination of human work in all its contexts, and which lead to the systematic investigation of all the resources and factors which affect the efficiency and economy of the situation being reviewed, in order to effect improvement.”
Notes from ILO Work Study, 2nd Edition 1969
Work study is thus especially concerned with productivity. It is most frequently used to increase the amount produced from a given quantity of resources without further capital investment except, perhaps, on a very small scale.
Work study was widely known for years as "time and motion study", but with the development of the technique and its application to a very wide range of activities it was felt by many people that the older title was both too narrow and insufficiently descriptive. The term "work study" entered the English language only after the Second World War, but it is now generally accepted; "motion and
time study" is however still used in the United States although the newer term is gaining currency there. The word Arbeitsstudium, which has a similar meaning, has been used in Germany for many years.
It has been assumed in work study that productivity would be raised by using existing resources. Productivity can almost always be greatly increased by heavy investment of money in new and improved plant and equipment. How much can we expect to gain through the use of management techniques, and especially work study, to improve the use of existing resources as against investing capital in new plant?
It will be seen that the most effective way of raising productivity in the long run is often the development of new processes and the installation of more modern plant and equipment which is capital intensive. Even to achieve worth-while improvements in existing processes to improve productivity may take considerable time and money.
Work study is concerned primarily with operation rather than with technical processes as such, and operation involves human beings, whether as workers, planners, technicians or managers.
*The study of the behaviour of plant divorced from the operator is almost entirely a technical problem, and work study is not usually concerned with it.
By carrying out systematic procedures quite ordinary men can achieve results as good as or better than the results achieved less systematic geniuses. Work study succeeds because it is systematic both in investigation of the problem being considered and in the development of its solution. Systematic investigation takes time.
Only by continuous study at the workplace or in the area where the activity is taking place can the facts be obtained to do work study. This means that work study must always be the responsibility of someone who devotes full time to the study when it is taking place.
Work Study is one of several techniques to improve productivity. Some of these techniques at Product Design, Process and Facilities Design, and Operations stage are given below.
It is to be noted that industrial engineers have to do more activities than work study alone in the engineering field to improvement productivity. Product industrial engineering and process industrial engineering are the terms proposed by Dr. K.V.S.S. Narayana Rao to describe the areas of industrial engineering which focus on identifying, developing and installing engineering alternatives to increase productivity in engineering activities, processes, departments and organizations.
Productivity Techniques that can be used during Operations Stage
1. Reduce the work content of the product -
Method study (Work Study)
2. Reduce the work content of the process -
Method study (Work Study)
3. Reduce ineffective time (whether due to management or to workers) -
Ineffective time - Man and machine are idle. They are working but no required output is coming
Work measurement (Work Study)
Production planning and control
Improved working conditions
Method study has some application at various stages.
Product design: Method study to improve ease of operation and maintenance at design stage. Method study people can give some suggestions at the design stage based on their experience on the shopfloor on some design features.
Technical Process and Facilities Development: Method study in plant layout and to improve ease of operation when modernising.
Method study to improve design for ease of production - minor changes in design (Not changes in basic design)
Method study to reduce wasted effort and time in operating the process by eliminating unnecessary
movement (with in the permanent layout)
Work measurement to investigate existing practice, locate ineffective time and set standards
of performance as a basis for
A. Planning and control
B. Utilisation of plant
C. Labour cost control
D. Incentive schemes
The full effect is felt in an organisation only when work study is applied everywhere, and when
everyone becomes imbued with the attitude of mind which is the basis of successful work study: intolerance of waste in any form, whether of material, time, effort or human ability; and the refusal to accept without question that things must be done in a certain way "because that is the way they have always been done".
THE BASIC PROCEDURE OF WORK STUDY
There are eight steps in performing a complete work study. They are-
1. Select the job or process to be studied.
2. Record from direct observation everything that happens, using the most suitable of the recording techniques (to be explained later), so that the data will be in the most convenient form to be analysed.
3. Examine the recorded facts critically and challenge everything that is done, considering in turn: the purpose of the activity; the place where it is performed; the sequence in which it is done; the person who is doing it; the means by which it is done.
4. Develop the most economic method taking into account all the circumstances.
5. Measure the quantity of work involved in the method selected and calculate a standard time for doing it.
6. Define the new method and the related time so that it can always be identified.
7. Install the new method as agreed standard practice with the time allowed.
8. Maintain the new standard practice by proper control procedures.
The sequence Select, Record, Examine
Develop, Measure, Define,
Install and Maintain
should be learnt by heart.
Work study is a most penetrating tool of investigation. It is systematic and the places where effort and time are being wasted are laid bare one by one. In order to eliminate this waste the causes of it must be looked for. The causes include bad planning, bad organisation, insufficient control or lack of proper training of workers. Members of the management and supervisory staffs are responsible for these things and thus they are also made responsible for making improvement to increase productivity. Applying work study in one shop can start a chain-reaction of investigation and thr reason may be pointed occurring in the plant engineer's department,the accounts department, the design office or the sales force. Hence the technique must be handled with great care and tact. Nobody likes to be made to feel that he has failed, especially in the eyes of his superiors. The work study man has to point out his findings without hurting the emotions of the people concerned.
It was the experience of the ILO productivity mission that productivity could often be increased simply by improving the working conditions, before method study techniques were applied. It is little use making elaborate investigations into the improvement of working methods if lighting is so bad that operatives have to strain their eyes to see what they are doing or if the atmosphere is so hot and humid, or so charged with noxious fumes, that they have constantly to go into the open air to refresh themselves. Bad working conditions were listed among the main causes of ineffective time due to shortcomings of the management. Not only is time lost in the manner described but an excessive amount of bad work is caused which means waste of material and loss of output.