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2.Direct Time Study..............................................................................................4

2.1 Introduction

2.2 The Worker Factor

2.3 Ratings

2.4 Allowances and Time Standard

2.5 Issues with Time Study

2.6 Advantages of Time Study

Work Sampling......................................................................................................8
3.1 Introduction

3.2 Sampling and Confidence Intervals

3.3 Random Observations

3.4 Advantages of Work Sampling

3.5 Disadvantages of work sampling

3.Predetermined Time System (PTS)................................................................11

4.1 Introduction

4.2 The MTM System

4.3 Advantages of Predetermined Time Systems

4.4 Criticisms of Predetermined Time Systems

4.Standard Data System......................................................................................13

5.1 Introduction

5.2 Applications of Standard Data Systems (SDS)

5.3 Advantages of Standard Data System

5.4 Disadvantages of Standard Data System



Work measurement is a series of techniques employed to evaluate the time needed for completion
of a task by an average human worker. This evaluated time is called the Standard Time of the task.
The standard time serves as a benchmark for productivity. Standard time is the time required by a
qualified and well-trained person working at a normal pace, to do a specified task. Any worker who
exceeds the standard time set for a particular task is said to be working slowly. Thus, this system
enables organizations to get a fair idea of the rate at which their employees are working, and
whether they are working fast enough or not. Standard time does include a certain amount of
allowance, to provide for a worker’s personal needs, fatigue and unavoidable delays during the
shift. This is an important aspect, since employees are paid according to their work output in hours
in many organizations. Work measurement is often also called time study, although the areas of
concern in each case is slightly different. Work measurement is largely concerned with human work
output, while time study also considers any automated work output. Work measurement consists of
four techniques, namely

• Direct Time Study

• Predetermined Motion Time System

• Standard Data System

• Work Sampling

Time study or work measurement has several important uses. It helps in the determination of
schedules and the planning of work. It can aid in determining standard costs. It is fairly helpful in
determining the amount of wage that needs to be paid for labor, and helps an organization to ensure
that it is paying its employees appropriately for their labor. Time standards serve in determining the
amount of staff needed to accomplish a particular amount of workload. Time standards also serve
the highly important objective of helping organizations evaluate their employees’ performance. The
all-important objective of determining whether an employee has put in a “fair day’s work” can be
determined simply by analyzing the sum of the standard times of all the tasks accomplished during
the day, and checking where it stands, relative to the total number of hours in a day’s shift. If it is
fairly less than the total number of hours in a day’s shift, the employee is said to be working too

2.1 Introduction
Direct time study, as its name suggests, is the direct measurement of the time taken by an
operator/worker to complete a certain task. It involves the subdivision of the entire task into the
various work elements that it is composed of, and measuring the time taken to accomplish each
work element. The total operation time is then calculated as the sum of the individual work element
times. A rating is then given by the evaluator, which is used to calculate the normal time that is
required for completion of the task. Normal time is defined as the time required to accomplish a
certain task by an average worker, working at a normal pace, but without any allowances. It
represents the time taken to complete the task alone. The standard time for the operation is then
computed by adding any allowances as required to the normal time. In this way, we can compute
the maximum allowable time for completion of an operation, beyond which the worker is said to be
working at a lower than normal pace. The equipment needed for this study are a time measuring
device such as a stopwatch and an observation board with a time study sheet, to chart the times
required for completion of each of the component work elements. An alternative approach is to film
the entire operation using a video camera, and analyze the number of frames needed to complete the
entire task or each of the work elements. Since we know the frame rate of the camera, we can
calculate the time taken, accurately.

Selection of the job for the time study is an important initial step. There are various reasons why a
certain job/operation might need a time study performed on it. Some of them are listed below

• The job in question is a new one, for which a time standard has not yet been determined.

• There has been a change in the method used for the operation or materials, which could affect the
time standard

• A particular operation appears to be a bottleneck, holding up several other operations because it is

taking too much time.

• The cost of a particular job appears to be excessive, and a study is needed to determine if the
method is inefficient.

In the event that a time standard must be defined for the first time, it is advisable to ensure that the
best method to accomplish the task has already been developed, before the time study is performed
on it. Hence, a comprehensive study of the process is needed.
2.2 The Worker Factor
Employees present one of the biggest challenges with Direct Time Study. One of the most
important steps before performing a time study is obtaining the consent of the foreman and/or
workers involved in the operation. This is important, since the purpose of a time study is not fairly
obvious at first. The entire objective of the time study could be misunderstood, unless it is carefully
explained to everyone. Anyone performing a direct time study must first obtain consent from the
foreman and/or the workers, and explain to them clearly the objective of the time study, what the
process would involve, and seek their consent before going on with the process.

The person performing the study should position himself appropriately for performing the time
study. He should be so placed that he can see everything the operator does, including his hand
motions, without interfering with his movements or distracting his attention. He should not stand
directly in front of him, or so close to him that the worker feels that he has “someone standing over
him”, which has been a frequent complaint against time study. A recommended position for the
time study man is to the side of the operator, and to the rear, about 2 meters away. However, the
actual position will be dictated by the actual operation. On no account should the time study be
attempted from a concealed position, without the operator’s knowledge. It is also recommended
that the time study man stands while performing the time study, since the worker could get the
impression that he is doing all the work while the time study man simply sits and watches him,
timing him all the while.

Most workers tend to settle down to their normal working pace. However, there are cases,
especially when workers are nervous, where the workers attempt to work unnaturally faster, thus
fumbling more and possibly working slower than their normal rate. In such an event, the time study
must be stopped and the time study man should talk to the worker and ensure he is calm and
composed before resuming the study again.

2.3 Ratings
Ratings are a significant part of time study. Ratings help in determining the normal time for an
operation, and they represent the rate at which a worker is working. Ratings are a comparison
between the operator’s speed or tempo, and the observer’s own concept of normal performance and
rate. Hence, it is a matter of judgment on the part of the time study analyst, and since these ratings
have an impact on the time standards set, which later have an impact on incentives, they must be
appropriately given, to ensure the workers are not overworked, while also ensuring that the
management is not overpaying their employees. It is a balance between management and labor.
Selection of workers for the time study has a significant impact on the rating system. It must be
ensured to the greatest extent, that only qualified workers are selected for the study. Very fast or
very slow workers must be left out of the study.

2.4 Allowances and Time Standard

Normal time is calculated as the product of observed time and the rating. This time represents the
amount of time taken by an average worker, working at a normal pace, to complete the task.
However, this does not account for various delays, such as personal needs of the worker, fatigue,
and possible delays in the process due to breakdowns, etc. To compensate for such delays,
allowances are calculated and added to the normal time, to give what is known as the standard time
which represents the time required for completion of the task, inclusive of delays.

Allowances are applied as a percentage of normal time. The standard time for the operation is
determined as the sum of the normal time and allowances, obtained from the product of normal time
and the percentage of allowance.

2.5 Issues with Time Study

Time study has many latent benefits that come with it. One such benefit is that it is highly versatile
and can be easily applied to any operation. However, there are many disadvantages to applying the
time study method for work measurement. Some of these are described below.

1. Time study is a highly tedious process, from the start to the end. It involves a comprehensive
study of the process and needs to be performed again for a change in process. Taking measurements
of the operator is also highly tedious, especially when the sample size needed is fairly large.

2. This process cannot be applied to situations when the job cycle time is very high. It can also not
be applied to jobs that are highly complex and have several work elements, since it becomes fairly
cumbersome to note element times for such processes

3. Time study involves obtaining consent from the workers first, and explaining the entire process
to them. It could also cause workers to attempt to work slower than their normal pace during the
time study in order to prevent the time standard from being set too small. Alternately, workers
could also end up attempting to work faster than normal to ensure that they’re not accused of being
too slow. Accurate judgment on the part of the observer is needed in such cases.

4. This system depends heavily on the rating system. Ratings given are based on the judgment of
the observer, and thus, any error in judgment on the part of the observer could result in the time
standard being set too low, causing the workers to be overworked, or the converse where workers
are overpaid and underworked.

5. In order to ensure that the ratings supplied are accurate, the analyst should be fairly experienced,
or have undergone training in assigning ratings.

2.6 Advantages of Time Study

1. Direct time study is fairly versatile, since it only involves the use of a time measuring device
such as a stopwatch, and time is measured directly.

2. A description is provided of the method along with a sketch. This helps understand the
conditions and nature of the task being performed, even in the future when referencing past time
study records.

3. Direct time study is applicable to a single subject, unlike work sampling which is better suited
for groups of subjects.

4. Direct time study provides a greater detail about the capabilities of individual workers.

5. Direct time study does not depend on previously taken data, unlike the Standard Data System. It
is thus, more reliable.

6. Direct time study is suited for systems where the number of standards to be set is small in

7. It is fairly simple to explain direct time study process to workers and management.

3.1 Introduction
This system was first used by L. H. C. Tippett in the British textile industry in 1940. It is a highly
efficient system through which, needed information can be obtained in less time, and at a lower
cost, compared to other methods of work measurement. It is also known as “activity sampling”,
“ratio-delay study”, “random observation study”, “snap-reading method” and “observation ratio
study”. It is based on the laws of probability. A sample taken at random from a large group tends to
have the same pattern of distribution as the large group or universe. If the sample is large enough,
the characteristics of the sample will differ little from the characteristics of the group. Sample is the
term used for this small number, while population or universe is the term used for the large group.
Sampling is the process of obtaining and analyzing only a small part of the universe.

3.2 Sampling and Confidence Intervals

Work sampling is based on probability. Probability is defined as the extent to which an event is
likely to occur. It can be calculated by analyzing the fractional extent of occurrences of the event in
question, within a given sample. The probability of an event occurring tends to get more accurate
with greater sample sizes. However, since it is impossible to take a fairly large number of samples,
a sample as large as possible is taken. The level of confidence we have of the sample being
representative of the population is expressed as a confidence level. The concept of confidence levels
involves the normal distribution. Over repeated observations, it is assumed the distribution of
observations would follow a normal distribution. The confidence levels are expressed as integer
multiples of the standard deviation σ of the data. (1σ, 2σ, 3σ). The associated level of confidence
depends on the spread of data considered. A deviation of 1σ corresponds to 68% of the area of the
curve, centered about the mean. Similarly, a deviation of 2σ corresponds to 95% and 3σ
corresponds to 99.7%. Thus, at a 99.7% confidence level, most of the data points will have a spread
of at the most 3σ.

The determination of confidence levels is important in determining the sample size needed for the
study. Since the standard deviation depends on the sample size, an appropriately large sample must
be taken to ensure that we achieve the desired level of confidence.

3.3 Random Observations

The next step in work sampling is to take observations. An important factor is that the observations
must be random. This can be ensured by using a table of random numbers to determine times for
observation taking. At each of these times now shortlisted, an observation is made of the state of the
process (working/idle), and noted. The proportion is determined next. This proportion is the ratio of
the number of observations in which the state that we are interested in has occurred (based on our
objective, such as number of times machine is working), to the total number of observations made.
This proportion is calculated at the end of each day. Control limits are then set, according to the
requirement, and a study is made to see if the process is working as required or not. The time taken
for the process can be determined from the product of the proportion of the readings in a day that
the process was not idle, and the total time for a day’s shift. The standard time can then be
calculated by taking the product of time taken, and an average performance index for the worker.

3.4 Advantages of Work Sampling

1. It is easier to measure processes that have long cycle times or are costly to measure, by work

2. A study can be made of several operators simultaneously, using work sampling. Time study,
however, requires an analyst for each operator analyzed.

3. It requires fewer man-hours and less costs to do a work sampling study.

4. Observations are taken on a day-to-day basis or week-to-week basis, thus decreasing the effect
of day-to-day variations or weekly variations on the results

5. A work sampling study may be interrupted at any time without affecting the results.

6. A work sampling study is far less fatiguing and tedious than a direct time study, since the study
is not performed continuously.

7. Workers being observed tend to prefer work sampling to direct time study to avoid being
monitored continuously.

8. A stopwatch is not needed for a work sampling study

3.5 Disadvantages of work sampling

1. Work sampling is not economical for studying a single operator or machine, or studying
operators or machines spread out over large areas.

2. Time study permits a finer breakdown of activities and delays than is possible with work
sampling. Work sampling does not provide as much detailed information as is available from a time
3. Management and workers may not understand statistical work sampling as readily as they do
time study.

4. A work sampling study made of a group represents the average of the capabilities of the entire
group, and does not highlight individual capabilities.

5. A work sampling study is effective only when the sample size is calculated effectively for the
desired level of accuracy, and the same number of observations are taken. It is also very important
for the observations to be taken at random times. If any of these steps are ignored or compromised
on, the work sampling study is not entirely effective.

4.1 Introduction
Time standards for an operation can be determined by direct time study, which involves direct
measurement of the time taken for the process. However, another approach for determining
standard times is to use predetermined times. The Predetermined Time System consists of a set of
predetermined time data and a system for subdividing any manual operation into motions, body
movements or human performance, and assigns to each the appropriate time value. The beginnings
of PTS stretch back to the study of Frank B. Gilbreth, who first classified human motion into
“therbligs” which were the basic building blocks of most standard hand and body motions
encountered in a process. However, the first Predetermined Time System was established by A. B.
Segur in 1927, calling the system Motion Time Analysis. Segur stated that “within practical limits
the time required for all experts to perform true fundamental motions is a constant”.

Following the Second World War, however, a system called the Methods-Time Measurement
(MTM) was developed, that later went on to become one of the most widely used systems for work
measurement. MTM was developed by H. B. Maynard, G. J. Stegemerten and J. L. Schwab, who
worked on the system at the Westinghouse Electric Corporation in the United States. The
significance of the MTM system is that the findings were publicly published and are made freely
available to everyone.

4.2 The MTM System

The Methods-Time Measurement (MTM) system is one of the most widely used Predetermined
Time Systems. It involves dividing human motion into various categories such as Reach, Move,
Grasp, Apply Pressure, Position, Turn, etc. For each category of motion, predetermined times are
supplied, based on the conditions of the work. For instance, in the case of Reach, there are 5 classes,
based on the nature of the reach. ‘A’ represents reaching for an object at a fixed location, ‘B’
represents reaching for an object whose location may vary from cycle to cycle, ‘C’ represents reach
for an object that is jumbled with other objects in a group, ‘D’ represents reaching for a very small
object or where accurate grasp is needed, and ‘E’ represents reaching to an indirect location, usually
for body balance. For each subcategory, times are provided, based on the distance of reach
travelled. Similarly, for other hand and body motions, times are provided for the various scenarios
that may occur. Thus, if the entire operation is divided into the various motions presented in the
MTM system, it is possible to determine the time that would be needed to perform each work
element, and thus, the total time needed to perform the operation.
4.3 Advantages of Predetermined Time Systems
1. Predetermined Time Systems eliminate the need for measuring time by a stopwatch or by

2. It is possible to determine the standard time for an entire operation even before the operation
has begun or while it is at a design stage. This facilitates the development of a method that is cost

3. The Predetermined Time System is fairly easy to apply and does not require any tedious effort
on the part of the analyst in measuring time.

4. They are useful for determining standard times for very short, repetitive cycles such as assembly
work in the electronics industry.

5. Ratings are not required in this system in any way, since they are built into the system. Thus,
there is no requirement of the judgment on the part of the analyst in evaluating the pace of the

4.4 Criticisms of Predetermined Time Systems

1. Predetermined Time Systems are rather complicated, and are not easy to learn. A work study
man requires a good deal of practice before he can apply it correctly

2. PTS does not consider any special cases of motion such as a case where a full cup and an empty
cup of liquid would be given the same time for movement. However, in the case of the full cup, the
motion has to be slower, especially when care must be taken to avoid spilling the liquid.

3. It is sometimes considered invalid to add up times for individual motions as proposed by the
PTS, since motions will be influenced by the ones preceding them and following them. However,
this limitation was overcome in some systems such as the MTM system.

4. Direction of motion influences the time taken. For instance, moving in one direction might
taken more time than in the reverse direction if there is an incline in one of the directions.

5.1 Introduction
This system employs a database of normal time values, organized by work elements, in order to
establish the time standards for a particular task/operation. Normal time values for the work
elements are usually compiled from previous direct time studies (DTS). Unlike those previous time
studies, it is not necessary to directly observe the task in order to set a time standard using a
Standard Data System (SDS). Accordingly, standards can be determined for a task before the job is

When using the Standard Data System, the analyst lists the work elements that would be required
for a new task, specifying the details and parameters that will affect the time to accomplish the
element. By adding the appropriate allowance factor, we can compute the standard time for each
element. Thus the standard time for the entire operation can be computed from the sum of the
standard times of individual component work elements.

To apply a Standard Data System, the database of normal times for work elements must initially be
developed. This may be done using Direct Time Study and/or Predetermined Time Systems. When
a Predetermined Time System (PTS/PMTS) is used to develop times for a standard data system, it is
for either of the following purposes:

1. to supplement the database of DTS values because some of those data values are missing, or

2. to develop the SDS database of work element normal times from the basic motion element times
in the PTS/PMTS.

Thus, a Standard Data System is considered to be a macroscopic approach to Work Measurement,

while PTS/PMTS is considered a microscopic approach.

5.2 Applications of Standard Data Systems (SDS)

1. Standard Data Systems can be applied to work facilities where several of the tasks performed
are similar in nature.

2. This system is best suited for medium production of batches.

3. It can be applied in situations where a large number of standards are to be set. In such cases, the
SDS method proves to be more efficient, compared to DTS and PTS/PMTS, especially when the
analysts available on hand are less in number.

4. Standard Data Systems can be used to establish time standards for an operation even before it
has begun operation.
5.3 Advantages of Standard Data System
1. Standard data systems require far less time for setting time standards compared to direct time

2. Standard data systems serves as a fairly cost efficient method when the number of standards
required to be set are high in number, since it compromises on the cost of additional analysts that
would otherwise be required by other methods such as direct time study.

3. Standard time can be set before commencement of production using Standard Data Systems.
This is not possible with direct time study since it requires direct observation. This helps in cost
estimation and also can be used as an input to other planning and scheduling programs such as
Material Requirement Planning (MRP) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

4. Performance ratings are factored into the system, and hence there is no need for them. This
eliminates the need for judgment on the part of the analyst.

5. Standard Data Systems tend to be more consistent as compared to direct time study since it is
created from the average of several time studies made earlier.

5.4 Disadvantages of Standard Data System

1. Developing a Standard Data System requires considerable time and effort. This system is thus
not economically feasible when the number of standards to be set are relatively low.

2. Standard data system employs a database built from previous work measurement data taken
through time study or predetermined time studies. Hence, the company must have access to such
data and should ensure the integrity of the data before carrying out the study. If the data is biased in
a certain way, then the results will also be biased in that direction.

3. A standard data system is designed with a certain scope of coverage in mind. It is developed
from data from a defined family of tasks and its applications are limited to setting time standards for
new tasks in that same family. In that sense, Standard Data Systems are slightly limited in nature.
Work measurement forms an integral part of work study, and is highly essential for companies from
a managerial perspective. The importance is realized from the fact that work measurement gives an
indication of the level of output, in terms of time, from the workforce in an organization, and since
this is often directly related to compensation and incentives, it is essential to ensure that the method
of work measurement used is efficient and appropriate. The ultimate objective is to obtain the
standard time for an operation, and there are four basic methods that are in use for this purpose. The
applicability of each method varies as per the work conditions.

Direct time study is a highly versatile method that can be applied in situations where the cycle time
is neither too small nor too long. However, direct time study is highly tedious in nature, and
requires worker consent prior to performing the study. Work sampling on the other hand, can be
applied in situations where the cyele time is very long, and is far less tedious. The Predetermined
Time System (PTS/PMTS) is useful when the cycle time is very small, and has the advantage that it
is less tedious than direct time study, and the work measurement data can be obtained before the
operation has commenced, thus giving an idea of the costs involved. A similar case is with the
Standard Data System, since it can be accomplished before the process has begun and takes less
time as compared to other methods. The SDS and PTS/PMTS systems are virtually similar in
nature, but with different approaches, one being microscopic in nature and the other being
macroscopic in nature. However, since SDS depends on previous data, it is essential to ensure the
integrity of the data to prevent the data obtained from the SDS to be biased.

The objective of obtaining the standard time for the various operations at an organization can be
obtained through any of the four methods listed above and it is up to the management to decide the
method that is best suited to their scenario, by analyzing the various advantages and disadvantages,
and applicability of each method.
1. Barnes, R. M. “Motion and Time Study. Design and Measurement of Work”. 7th ed. John
Wiley & Sons, Inc.

2. International Labour Office. “Introduction to Work Study”. 3rd ed. International Labour Office,
Geneva. 1981.

3. Groover, M. P. “Work Systems and the Methods, Measurement, and Management of Work”.
Prentice Hall. NJ. 2007