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Time Studies

Time study is the application of a scientific method of determining process times using data collection and statistical analysis. The times that are calculated through a scientific study are used for various initiatives such as:

  • Establishing accurate productivity goals
  • Compiling objective data that compares automation/methods
  • Identifying non-value-added time percentages
  • Determining current staff utilization and identifying opportunities
  • Quantifying gains through layout and/or method changes
  • Reducing labor costs

Element definition, data collection, and statistical analysis are utilized in order to establish times that are both fair and accurate. Argent’s industrial engineering background and over 20 years of field experience make us uniquely qualified in providing companies with the appropriate time study resources, knowledge, and results.

Time studies were initially performed primarily in manufacturing and construction environments. However, over the last 100 years, the discipline has expanded and is now used in many other environments including:

  • Distribution and warehousing operations
  • Medical laboratories
  • Call centers
  • Manufacturing and refurbishing facilities
  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Data processing and data entry functions
  • Trucking and transportation operations
  • Retail store operations
  • Administrative and technical support functions
  • Inside and outside sales operations
  • Field service operations
  • Service and repair facilities

Time studies are useful in determining vital information such as:

  • Accurate times for job functions
  • Amount of processing time for equipment/automation
  • Calculated time reduction for process, layout, technology, or workstation changes
  • Percentage of time utilization by operators and/or equipment
  • Appropriate staffing levels based on workload
  • Batch processing times, turn-around times, cycle times, process lead time, change-over time, etc.
  • Percentage of non-productive time during a given time period
  • Amount of time spent on random, non-value-added activities, such as equipment changes, system failure, etc.

A time and motion study is used to determine the amount of time required for a specific activity, work function, or mechanical process. By determing the work elements and cycles to be studied, capturing cycle time data, and using statistical analysis, accurate times can be calculated and used for planning, measurement, and comparison purposes. Time studies are used for a variety of initiatives such as:

Performance measurement and incentive programs
Automation comparisons
Staffing, equipment and layout planning
Time utilization analysis
Workload planning
Accurate performance quotas
Identification of non-value-added activities

In order to calculate accurate activity, machine, or process cycle times, key components are utilized.  These components ensure that the resulting times are accurate and take into consideration the specific factors associated with the work environment. These key components are:

Elements – Each task, mechanical process, or job function to be time studied is analyzed and broken down into finite elements such as calibration, picking up a carton, applying a label, completing documentation, etc. This allows the engineer performing the time study to collect the data in such a way that it can be broken down and assigned to the appropriate work determinant. This, in turn, allows the development of a meaningful cycle time or productivity goal that considers all critical work determinants related to the process.
Random Time  This time includes functions such as disposing of trash, checking with a supervisor, replenishing necessary supplies, etc., and must be included in the time study. During the time study, legitimate time for these activities is captured. It is then factored into the performance goal proportionally in order to allow time for all necessary work even though it does not directly add value to the task.
Indirect Activities – This time includes activities such as completing unnecessary paperwork, or walking to another area of the facility on a regular basis. If these types of activities are included in the day-to-day work of an operator, the appropriate amount of time to do those tasks is included in the time study, but can easily be removed later if the non-value-added work is removed from the job.

Exception Time  Non-productive time such as personal discussions with other operators, or correcting excessive mistakes should not be a part of the productivity goal. Therefore, this time is captured during the time study and removed. Minimizing the amount of non-productive activities during an operator’s work day is one of the primary areas where productivity increases can occur almost instantly.

Performance Rating (Pace & Skill) – When compiling productivity goals or engineered labor standards, Pace and Skill rating are also used. Argent engineers are experienced in utilizing pace and skill rating and attributing the proper factor for each associate’s work pace and skill level. These factors are compiled into the productivity goal to make them fair and reasonable for all associates to achieve when using the proper work methods and working at an average pace.

Personal Allowance – A time factor is also applied for personal needs and fatigue when productivity goals or engineered labor standards are being established. The time factor is added to the calculated normal time to incorporate acceptable allowance for personal breaks and diminishing pace of work throughout a shift depending on the work being performed.

VantageRPM  is an automated Labor Management System (LMS) that provides productivity and utilization tracking, manpower planning, and performance reports by department, shift, activity, associate, etc. Some of the benefits of using VantageRPM are:

  • Ability to monitor performance on an ongoing basis
  • Manpower planning by area, department, etc.
  • Built-in employee performance appraisals
  • Stepped goals, rewards, discipline and incentive capabilities
  • Easy access to productivity charts and reports
  • Operational visibility
  • Labor cost reductions