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- Shop Management - 20/24 -

complete sets of time observations, the operator should be given the opportunity of working up one or two sets at least by summing up the unit times and allowing the proper per cent of rest, etc., and putting them into practical use, either by comparing his results with the actual time of a job which is known to be done in fast time, or by setting a time which a workman is to live up to.

The actual practical trial of the time student's work is most useful, both in teaching him the necessity of carefully noting the minutest details, and on the other hand convincing him of the practicability of the whole method, and in encouraging him in future work.

In making time observations, absolutely nothing should be left to the memory of the student. Every item, even those which appear self-evident, should be accurately recorded. The writer, and the assistant who immediately followed him, both made the mistake of not putting the results of much of their time study into use soon enough, so that many times observations which extended over a period of months were thrown away, in most instances because of failure to note some apparently unimportant detail.

It may be needless to state that when the results of time observations are first worked up, it will take far more time to pick out and add up the proper unit times, and allow the proper percentages of rest, etc., than it originally did for the workman to do the job. This fact need not disturb the operator, however. It will be evident that the slow time made at the start is due to his lack of experience, and he must take it for granted that later many short-cuts can be found, and that a man with an average memory will be able with practice to carry all of the important time units in his head.

No system of time study can be looked upon as a success unless it enables the time observer, after a reasonable amount of study, to predict with accuracy how long it should take a good man to do almost any job in the particular trade, or branch of a trade, to which the time student has been devoting himself. It is true that hardly any two jobs in a given trade are exactly the same and that if a time student were to follow the old method of studying and recording the whole time required to do the various jobs which came under his observation, without dividing them into their elements, he would make comparatively small progress in a lifetime, and at best would become a skilful guesser. It is, however, equally true that all of the work done in a given trade can be divided into a comparatively small number of elements or units, and that with proper implements arid methods it is comparatively easy for a skilled observer to determine the time required by a good man to do any one of these elementary units.

Having carefully recorded the time for each of these elements, it is a simple matter to divide each job into its elementary units, and by adding their times together, to arrive accurately at the total time for the job. The elements of the art which at first appear most difficult to investigate are the percentages which should be allowed, under different conditions, for rest and for accidental or unavoidable delays. These elements can, however, be studied with about the same accuracy as the others.

Perhaps the greatest difficulty rests upon the fact that no two men work at exactly the same speed. The writer has found it best to take his time observations on first-class men only, when they can be found; and these men should be timed when working at their best. Having obtained the best time of a first-class man, it is a simple matter to determine the percentage which an average man will fall short of this maximum.

It is a good plan to pay a first-class man an extra price while his work is being timed. When work men once understand that the time study is being made to enable them to earn higher wages, the writer has found them quite ready to help instead of hindering him in his work. The division of a given job into its proper elementary units, before beginning the time study, calls for considerable skill and good judgment. If the job to be observed is one which will be repeated over and over again, or if it is one of a series of similar jobs which form an important part of the standard work of an establishment, or of the trade which is being studied, then it is best to divide the job into elements which are rudimentary. In some cases this subdivision should be carried to a point which seems at first glance almost absurd.

For example, in the case of the study of the art of shoveling earths, referred to in Table 3, page 164, it will be seen that handling a shovelful of dirt is subdivided into, s = "Time filling shovel and straightening up ready to throw," and t = "Time throwing one shovelful."

The first impression is that this minute subdivision of the work into elements, neither of which takes more than five or six seconds to perform, is little short of preposterous; yet if a rapid and thorough time study of the art of shoveling is to be made, this subdivision simplifies the work, and makes time study quicker and more thorough.

The reasons for this are twofold:

First. In the art of shoveling dirt, for instance, the study of fifty or sixty small elements, like those referred to above, will enable one to fix the exact time for many thousands of complete jobs of shoveling, constituting a very considerable proportion of the entire art.

Second. The study of single small elements is simpler, quicker, and more certain to be successful than that of a large number of elements combined. The greater the length of time involved in a single item of time study, the greater will be the likelihood of interruptions or accidents, which will render the results obtained by the observer questionable or even useless.

There is a considerable part of the work of most establishments that is not what may be called standard work, namely, that which is repeated many times. Such jobs as this can be divided for time study into groups, each of which contains several rudimentary elements. A division of this sort will be seen by referring to the data entered on face of note sheet, Fig. 2 (page 151).

In this case, instead of observing, first, the "time to fill a shovel," and then the time to "throw it into a wheelbarrow," etc., a number of these more rudimentary operations are grouped into the single operation of

a = "Time filling a wheelbarrow with any material."

This group of operations is thus studied as a whole.

Another illustration of the degree of subdivision which is desirable will be found by referring to the inserts, Fig. 5 (opposite page 166).

Where a general study is being made of the time required to do all kinds of hand work connected with and using machine tools, the items printed in detail should be timed singly.

When some special job, not to be repeated many times, is to be studied, then several elementary items can be grouped together and studied as a whole, in such groups for example as:

(a) Getting job ready to set.

(b) Setting work.

(c) Setting tool.

(d) Extra hand work.

(e) Removing work.

And in some cases even these groups can be further condensed.

An illustration of the time units which it is desirable to sum up and properly record and index for a certain kind of lathe work is given in Fig. 6.


The writer has found that when some jobs are divided into their proper elements, certain of these elementary operations are so very small in time that it is difficult, if not impossible, to obtain accurate readings on the watch. In such cases, where the work consists of recurring cycles of elementary operations, that is, where a series of elementary operations is repeated over and over again, it is possible to take sets of observations on two or more of the successive elementary operations which occur in regular order, and from the times thus obtained to calculate the time of each element. An example of this is the work of loading pig iron on to bogies. The elementary operations or elements consist of:

(a) Picking up a pig.

(b) Walking with it to the bogie.

(c) Throwing or placing it on the bogie.

(d) Returning to the pile of pigs.

Here the length of time occupied in picking up the pig and throwing or placing it on the bogie is so small as to be difficult to time, but observations may be taken successively on the elements in sets of three. We may, in other words, take one set of observations upon the combined time of the three elements numbered 1, 2, 3; another set upon elements 2, 3, 4; another set upon elements, 3, 4, 1, and still another upon the set 4,1, 2. By algebraic equations we may solve the values of each of the separate elements.

If we take a cycle consisting of five (5) elementary operations, a, b, c, d, e, and let observations be taken on three of them at a time, we have the equations:

[Transcriber's Note: omitted]

The writer was surprised to find, however, that while in some cases these equations were readily solved, in others they were impossible of solution. My friend, Mr. Carl G. Barth, when the matter was referred to him, soon developed the fact that the number of elements of a cycle which may be observed together is subject to a mathematical law, which is expressed by him as follows:

The number of successive elements observed together must be prime to the total number of elements in the cycle.

Namely, the number of elements in any set must contain no factors; that is, must be divisible by no numbers which are contained in the total number of elements. The following table is, therefore, calculated by Mr. Barth showing how many operations may be observed together in various cases. The last column gives the number of observations in a set which will lead to the determination of the results with the minimum of labor.

[Transcriber's note -- Table omitted]

Shop Management - 20/24

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