Process Improvement - Gilbreths' View
Frank Gilbreth developed process analysis and improvement also along with motion study. In 1921, he presented a paper in ASME, on process charts. Lilian Gilbreth was a coauthor of this paper.
PROCESS CHARTS: FIRST STEPS IX FINDING THE ONE BEST WAY TO DO WORK
By Frank B. Gilbreth, Montclair, N. J. Member of the Society
and L. M. Gilbreth, Montclair, N. J. Non-Member
For presentation at the Annual Meeting, New York, December 5 to 9, 1921,
of The American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 29 West 39th Street, New York.
At the end of the paper, the conclusion made is as follows:
The procedure for making, examining and improving a process is, therefore, preferably as follows:
a. Examine process and record with rough notes and stereoscopic diapositives the existing process in detail.
b. Have draftsman copy rough notes in form for blueprinting, photographic projection and exhibition to executives and others.
c. Show the diapositives with stereoscope and lantern slides of process charts in executives' theater to executives and workers.
d. Improve present methods by the use of —
1 Suggestion system
2 Written description of new methods or 'write-ups," "manuals," ''codes," ''written systems," as they are variously called
4 Standing orders
5 Motion study
6 Micromotion studies and chronocyclegraphs for obtaining and recording the One Best Way to do Work.
e. Make process chart of the process as finally adopted as a base for still further and cumulative improvement.
We see in the method described above the method study steps of record, and examine. The practice of involving the workers in analyzing the process chart which was later popularized by Alan Mogensen is also present in the method suggested by Gilbreth to improve a process. Motion study as a later step in the process analysis method, which was emphasized by H.B. Maynard as part of the operation analysis proposed by him is also visible in the procedure described by Gilbreths.
H.B. Maynard proposed "Operation Analysis" for process improvement.
So, we can see the methods engineering and methods study which became popular subsequently were futher development of Gilbreth's process improvement procedure only.
Process engineering focuses on the design, operation, control, optimization and Intensification of chemical, physical, and biological processes. Process engineering encompasses a vast range of industries, such as chemical, petrochemical, agriculture, mineral processing, advanced material, food, pharmaceutical, software development and biotechnological industries.
Process Industrial Engineering
Process engineering is an established term in engineering. Hence process industrial engineering, which represents the redesign of processes by industrial engineers to improve productivity is an appropriate term.
Methods Engineering, Operations Analysis, Method Study and Motion Study are various methods or procedures of process industrial engineering.
The process industrial engineering has to develop analysis and improvement of technical elements of a process in more detail to make industrial engineering an engineering based activity to increase productivity in engineering organizations, departments and activities.
Process industrial engineering also includes improvement of related management activities. F.W. Taylor was a pioneer in introducing many changes in management practices to improve productivity. Industrial engineering adopted the same objective. So within process industrial subject area comes the function of management process industrial engineering.
Methods efficiency engineering is the earlier proposed name. Now it is rechristened as Process Industrial Engineering. Product Industrial Engineering and Process Industrial Engineering are the two main components of productivity engineering which is totally dependent on the engineering knowledge of the industrial engineer.
The Function of Methods Efficiency Engineering
Methods efficiency engineering was the activity performed by F.W. Taylor and explained first in his paper "A Piece Rate System." As it evolved over the years, it became a a logical and systematic procedure for reducing costs, increasing production without an impairment to quality. Methods efficiency engineering may be applied with equal success to repetitive work or to jobbing work, to simple, easily understood operations or to complex, specialized jobs. It is applicable to all man machine systems, manual work or automated work.
Definition of Methods efficiency engineering. Briefly it may be said that Methods efficiency engineering is the industrial engineering component which is chiefly concerned with increasing the efficiency of resources used in a method.
Methods efficiency engineering is the technique that subjects each operation of a given piece of work to close analysis in order to eliminate every unnecessary operation and in order to approach the quickest and best method of performing each necessary operation; it includes the standardization of equipment, methods, and working conditions ; it trains the operator to follow the standard method; when all this has been done, it determines by accurate measurement the number of standard hours in which an operator working with standard performance can do the job.
A methods efficiency study always begins with a careful primary analysis of existing conditions. The reason is that the existing system is taken as an effective system that is producing the required output at quality acceptable to the customers. The first factors that are considered are the number of pieces made or the yearly activity, the length of the operation, and the hourly rate of the operator or operators doing the job. This information permits the computation of the yearly cost of the job. An estimate is next made of the probable improvement that methods study can make. This in turn determines the kind and amount of methods-engineering work that can profitably be undertaken.
The method or process is recorded for the purpose of presenting the study problem clearly. Then complete information is compiled for each operation concerning such points as the purpose of the operation,tolerance requirements, material and material handling, and tools and equipment used.
As a part of methods efficiency engineering, motion study, that is study of motions of the operator is made. In motion study, each individual motion used in doing the work is considered in detail to try to shorten the motion or to eliminate it altogether.
After the new method has been devised, information and records describing the redesigned procedure must be carefully made and communicate. If the method is available in a written form, frequent audits can be done to make sure it is being followed.
The operator or operators must next be taught to follow the new method. This may be done by verbal instructions, demonstrations at or away from the workplace, instruction sheets or operator process charts ; or by the highly successful procedure that employs motion pictures.
Explanation of the Term "Methods efficiency engineering."
The term " Methods efficiency engineering" is of comparatively recent origin.
When trained methods efficiency engineer brings to his job an extensive knowledge of fundamental waste-eliminating practices, every body will recognize its utility in the organization.
Development of Methods efficiency engineering - History
Rate Setting History
Probably the oldest wage-payment plan to be used by man was not day work, as might be supposed, but piecework. Day work probably came into being only when one "man desired to pay another man to work for him at a variety of tasks or to retain his general services to use or not at his discretion. Servants, for example, were paid on this basis. As industry began to grow, day work was used more and more, probably because this was the easiest method of payment where a variety of work was handled. Supervision was direct in most cases, labor was plentiful, and fear of dismissal furnished the incentive to produce.
At the same time, piecework payment was used in a number of instances. The weaver who worked a loom in his own home was paid for what he produced and not for the number of hours he spent at work. In the case of piecework, some plan that encouraged a definite output by the workers was felt necessary. Incentive plans came into existence. He was using records of past performance and his own judgment of what a man could accomplish if he worked with an honest effort to fix piece rates.
These two factors proved to be utterly unreliable. Records of past performance told only how much was produced and gave no indication of the conditions under which the work was done or of the method used by the operator. Under the stimulus of an incentive, the operator could almost always devise a better method and, by working steadily with a good effort, could make earnings that often exceeded those of the foreman. The various problems associate with these incentive plans, defeated the purpose of incentives which was to stimulate production.
All this time, competition was becoming increasingly keen. The need for incentives was felt most strongly, and the importance of proper rate setting caused a search for a better way of handling the matter. Thus the position of rate setter was established. The new setup gave somewhat better results, but conditions were far from satisfactory. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, therefore, the more progressive plants began to feel the need for a better, fairer, and more accurate method of handling the rate question. The problem was attacked independently in a number of plants in USA and abroad, and various solutions were offered which have contributed to a greater or lesser extent to methods-engineering practices. One attack, for example, was to attempt to equalize the inconsistencies of poor rate setting by the wage-payment plan; and this led to the development of such well-known plans as the Halsey premium plan and, later, the Rowan plan.
Taylor's Pioneering Efforts in Methods Improvement
Taylor used stop watch time study of understand the best practices of doing work at elemental level. Through the study of work and output using time study, Taylor found that some were following improper methods, many did not take full advantage of their tools and equipment, and all were subject to many interruptions. Hence, Taylor often found that a man could do two or three times as much as he had previously done in a day. Taylor carefully selected individual workman, guided, trained and made them produce the expected output under the guidance of management or supervision specialists. As one person produced according to the expected output, he trained one more man. In this manner gradually more and more operators were trained to produce the increased output. Since those days, time study has increased the productivity of industry manyfold. It has resulted in improved conditions, standardization, reduced costs, better production control, and better satisfied labor wherever it has been properly applied, and it has been applied to nearly every class of work.
Taylor' s system was to give the workman a definite task to be accomplished in a definite time in a definite manner. The workman was told in detail how to do the job. The method was established by careful study.
Taylor's original procedure forms the basis of methods engineering. It has been improved upon by those who came after him, as is the case when any new science is developed.
Taylor stressed the importance of improving method of doing the job and he used stop watch time study for that purpose. Frank B. Gilbreth stressed the importance of the detailed study of methods and thereby made a distinct contribution to methods efficiency engineering . As an apprentice bricklayer, he became impressed with the fact that most brick- layers had their own way of doing a job. Being very observant, he noticed further that each worker had three ways of doing the same job: one that he taught to other inexperienced workers, one that he used when working slowly, and one that he used when working at his normal speed. Gilbreth became interested in the reasons underlying this, analyzed the work of number operators and developed the technique of motion study. The Gilbreths established a laboratory and studied motions by laboratory methods. As a result, they made a number of fundamental discoveries and originated the concept of therbligs, or basic divisions of accomplishment. They were the first to recognize that there are certain definite principles which govern efficient working practices, and they developed several techniques for studying the motions used in performing operations. Of these, the motion study made with the aid of motion pictures, often called the "micromotion technique' is the best known and most used. Of the originality, soundness, and value of their contribution to methods engineering, there can be no question.
As has been pointed out, Taylor's original work forms the basis of modern Methods efficiency engineering. Paralally, the developments made by the Gilbreths were incorporated.
Motion study was improved further. Better designs of industrial motion-picture equipment permit the wider use of the motion picture at a greatly reduced cost. The element of time has been tied in with the concept of therbligs, or basic divisions of accomplishment, thus offering a new and valuable approach to methods study. The leveling principle permits adjusting the time data obtained from a study taken on any kind of performance over a wide range to a standard level with a high degree of accuracy, thus permitting the setting of accurate and consistent rates. Finally, time-formula derivation has been developed to a point that makes possible the quick and accurate setting of a large number of rates or time allowances with a minimum of engineering effort. This later became pre-determined motion system. MTM and MOSt are widely used predetermined motion time systems.
Methods Efficiency Engineering Procedure
Methods efficiency engineering is now a carefully planned, systematic procedure. Standard process charts have been developed to a state of greater flexibility and have become more useful for analysis purposes.
Economic Function of Methods efficiency engineering
Under modern business conditions, one of the major problems which faces the managers of industry is that of constantly reducing costs. Markets are restricted for any product because many individuals are economically unable to purchase the product at the current market price. Even in periods of prosperity, millions of people are able to supply themselves with only the barest necessities of life because of high prices of many items.
In any country, there are the fewest individuals in the highest group of income and the greatest number of people are in the lowest group with some groups of people at intermediate income levels. At each level, there is a group with a certain purchasing power.
The consumers at any economic levels but the highest few have only a limited amount to spend. All kinds of products are offered to them in various enticing ways. Competition as a result is keen and ruthless. The only way an industrial unit an hope to survive under these conditions is constantly to seek to keep production costs as low as possible.
Taylor's "Shop Management" paper described methods that gave lower production cost and higher income to operators. Cost reduction methods aim at waste elimination in machine work and man work so that greater production is secured with less effort.
Methods efficiency engineering is primarily concerned with devising methods that increase production and reduce costs. Hence, it plays an important role in determining the competitive position of a plant. As competition appears to be become keener, Methods efficiency engineering becomes increasingly important.
Methods efficiency engineering in an industrial unit can never be considered as completed. Costs that are satisfactory and competitive today become excessive in a comparatively short time because of the improved developments of other units of the industry. If the producer who is in a good competitive position today decides that his costs have reached rock bottom and that no further attempt to improve them is necessary, within a short while he is likely to find himself facing loss of his commercial standing as owner of an efficiently managed plant. Only by constantly seeking to improve can any unit safeguard its competitive position. Conditions in industry are never static, and steady progress is the only sure way to success.
Cost-reduction work is important as a factor for survival, but it also expands the industry and the firm. There are various economic strata of society. Assume that a certain company is manufacturing a product that, although universally desirable, is priced so high that only those individuals in group C or higher can purchase it. The market for the product is thus rather limited. If, however, properly conducted cost-reduction work permits the lowering of the selling price so that the individuals in group D can purchase the product, the market is at once greatly expanded, perhaps doubled or even tripled. Henry Ford was among the first to combine recognition of this principle with the courage to act upon it.
In actual practice, society is not divided into definite groups, but incomes range, in small steps, from next to nothing to the highest. Hence, each time the selling price of a product is reduced, even though it is as little as 1 per cent, the product is brought within the reach of more people. Therefore, it may be seen that cost reduction as a means of increasing the distribution of the product is at all times important.
Methods efficiency engineering and Shop Supervisors
The methods efficiency man is by no means the only one who takes an interest in establishing economic costs and improving methods. The foremen, the tool designers, and the other shop supervisors all realize the importance of keeping costs upon a competitive level. Very often they make worth-while improvements in manufacturing methods. The differences between the methods efficiency man and the other shop supervisors are two. In the first place, the methods man devotes all his time to methods work, whereas the other supervisors have numerous duties, which force them to consider methods work as incidental to their major activities. In the second place, the methods, man conducts his methods studies systematically and makes improvements as the result of applying a carefully developed technique. This technique is based upon a large amount of specialized knowledge which can be acquired only by special study and training. Therefore, unless a course in Methods efficiency engineering has been given to the other shop supervisors, their improvements are less certain and are due more to inspiration than to deliberate intent.
For these reasons, the major part of methods improvement is usually made by methods engineers. This is not a necessary condition, however; for the principles that they use can be learned by the other supervisors and can be applied, in part at least, during the course of their other work. Certain progressive organizations have realized this and have given methodsengineering training in more or less detail to their various key supervisors. The results, as may be expected, have been gratifying, and methods-improvement work has received a marked impetus (Maynard 1938).
It is hoped that this technique will be used by shop supervisors such as foremen, tool designers, and so on, as well as by methods engineers; for if the principles of methods efficiency work are understood throughout an organization, that organization will be in a good position to meet competition, depressions, or any other economic disturbances which may come its way.
Alan Mogensen advocated work simplification methodology. In this method, he used to conduct methods work shops based on process chart to supervisors and operators and used to improve processes with the involvement of the trainees. He was very successful in this endeavor for three decades and his method was adopted by Training Within Industry (TWI) program and then from them by Toyota Motors. Now, industrial engineering is being taught in undergraduate engineering programs to make all engineers practice industrial engineering and also to train their supervisors and operators. But in undergraduate programs, only mechanical branch and other branches are not teaching. It is important that it is taught in all engineering branches.
Adopted based on the first chapter of Maynard's Operation Analysis
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August month Industrial Engineering Knowledge Revision Plan is completely focused on Process Industrial Engineering
Process Industrial Engineering - Article Index - Presently it contains the copy of August revision plan. More articles are to be added to this index.
Updated on 27 JULY 2018
30 July 2017, 19 July 2017, 26 March 2017, 7 February 2017
Revision made on 23 Nov 2013
Revision made on 16 Feb 2014, 11 April 2015