Time study : Benefits and Practices

According to Gene Levine ” TIme study is a procedure used to determine the time it should take a well-trained, qualified  person with average motivation, working at normal pace, using a specific method, to do a specific task of specific quantity.” The procedure employs the stopwatch as a measuring device. The concept of time study is often expanded to include the improvement of an operation.

The purpose of doing time study is:-

  • To lower the cost of existing operation keeping the level of quantity maintained by developing a preferred system and method.
  • Making standards for system and applied methods.
  • Assisting in developing training module and imparting training to the workers.
  • Determining the time required by a qualified and proper trained person working at a normal pace to do a specific task or operation.


General Principles and practices

  • It is the aim of a time study observer to set an honest standard time value, which an be met by the average worker working at normal speed, under normal conditions, using a specific method to produce a unit or work of satisfactory quality.
  • The person making the study must become thoroughly experienced in the operation to be timed. This person must gain the confidence of the worker(s).
  • There should be prior recording of the method to be studied and improved, if not, then it should be done.
  • The time study person must make a thorough analysis of job vy doing operation analysis and then take the opinion from all the stakeholders of the operation.
  • Impart training to the workers in the same operation using new method. It should not be forced but sold.
  • While doing the improvement, the worker should be placed of guaranteed wages to keep the motivation on. Piece rate are not advisable.
  • Establish the method and make sure that the employee apllicable have the thorough knowledge of the methods and expected output of quantity and quality.
  • Once the time value has been set, it must not change unless the corresponding method, machine or material changes.
  • Once standard is set, a standard video of the operation should be kept for reference.
  • Do regular follow ups once the standard has been set to turn a standard into a practice.
  • Detailed work time study sheets should be kept for record purpose.
  • Time study is a management tool not tool for exploitation of the labor.


Benefits of properly developed piece rates:-

  • Obtain lower unit cost at all levels of production because production is more efficient.
  • Getting greater output from a given amount of resources.
  • Improving the schedule of work.
  • Acting as the basis for future planning of money, manpower and machines.
  • Continually focuses attention on cost reduction and control.
  • Offers worker a definite objective statement of what is expected of them in a given period.
  • Increase the profit margin and quotation feasibility due to lower unit cost.
  • Provides a target to management to meet or exceed performance within their area of control.
  • Reward best worker and keeping their motivation level high rather than awarding each one equal compensation  for unequal amount of work.
  • Places greater emphasis on quality by paying only for the work which passes inspection.
  • Allows an individual to work at his/her own pay and decide his/her own take way compensation.

How a time study helps in increasing the production and lowering the cost?

  • Labor performance reports:- Using the production standard as a gauge, managers can take immediate action in a situation if need arises. Comparing one labor performance report with other shows the undetected problems, which slows the production.
  • Standard cost:- Standard cost helps in selling the product at the price point where it not only satisfies the compensation demand of production but also churns out profit. A lower standard cost can result into sales of million but also loss of millions. An higher price point may place your product at a price point where sales dwindles and an truly profitable item should be forced to be discontinued.
  • Determining factory and machine capacity:- Each machine in a department, and even in a factory has a certain capacity. Once the capacity is determined, steps can be taken to prevent over booking of plant, buying decision and much more.
  • Balancing work on line assemblies:- Each and every operation takes its own time and even two operator performs a same operation at different pace. Time study helps us to create a theoretical balance even before the actual production starts to reduce setup/Changeover time.
  • Estimating direct labor contents for bids :- Companies are often asked to quote for the products which they have never manufactured before, Thus leaving them ob wild guess for making the exact quote. The time study helps the planners to breakdown the product in to operations and create a near perfect utilization scenario which helps in prediction of near accurate cost thus making bids more accurate.


Always remember 5 “S” of Time study:-

  • Specify a task:- Analyze the sequence of operation for the whole job.
  • Specify a definite method:- Indicate how the operation is to be performed.
  • Specify the Time:- Determine the time for the operation using stopwatch.
  • Spread the method:- Impart training to the concerned people.
  • Sustain:- Sustain the method and pace using awards/recognition or other method till next time study.