How To Perform a Time Study

A time study is a way to calculate or track employee workload or efficiency by tracking time used per task.  This is a helpful method for targeting and removing wasted activity that uses time and/or resources in non-value-adding ways.

There are many different ways to conduct a time study, depending on the nature of the business.  There is no specific “right” or “wrong “ time study technique, just be sure to use the technique or techniques that fit with the type of work conducted at your business.

A time study will only require simple observation and a stopwatch.  For more technical methods of studying motion within an industrial production line, you may use electronic mechanisms, but we will focus on simple observation.

Before you perform a time study, it will be helpful to set up a time study sheet in which you can log your times, dates, projects, and calculations.  These specifics depend on what you are studying.  Work measurement may study an operator, an entire process, a particular machine, a movement within the mechanism, or any element of the production line (even if it is within an office).

For examples of things you might want to include on your time study sheet, you can list the Client and/or specific Project or Department of the study.  Also list the Cost and/or Quantity produced.  It might be helpful to include the date, for future reference, and also consider what your Target Pay Rate and Time Allotment are.

Tailor your time study sheet to your specific business or production process.  Include all of the individual tasks that need to be completed for the Project - break these down into small steps.  For example, you might use these categories: Planning, Consulting, Cutting, Assembling, Sewing, Detailing, or any other category your business or production line uses.  List the scheduled time allotted to each task and then you will also record actual time used for each task.  Leave room for a calculation of the pay rate and time used, and also plenty of room for notes to evaluate the process and elaborate on areas for improvement.

After preparing the time study sheet, obtain a stopwatch that you can wear either around your neck or on your wrist while you or your employees complete the work being studied.  Start the stopwatch when you begin each new task and record the amount of time used.  You may either stop the stopwatch whenever there is an interruption or you may also record the amount of time used for extraneous motion depending on your study’s needs.  This may include restroom breaks, coffee breaks, daydreaming, and so on.  You may include the interruptions in a separate column on the time study sheet.

These observations may be done either in person or with video recording.


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