Method study enables the industrial engineer to subject each operation to systematic analysis. The main purpose of method study is to eliminate the unnecessary operations and to achieve the best method of performing the operation. Method study is also called methods engineering or work design.
Method engineering is used to describe collection of analysis techniques which focus on improving the effectiveness of men and machines. According to British Standards Institution (BS 3138): “Method study is the systematic recording and critical examination or existing and proposed ways or doing work as a means or developing and applying easier and more effective methods and reducing cost.”
Fundamentally method study involves the breakdown of an operation or procedure into its component elements and their systematic analysis. In carrying out the method study, the right attitude of mind is important. The method study man should have:
Method study scope lies in improving work methods through process and operation analysis, such as:
Objectives of Method Study
Method study is essentially concerned with finding better ways of doing things. It adds value and increases the efficiency by eliminating unnecessary operations, avoidable delays and other forms of waste. The improvement in efficiency is achieved through:
The objectives of method study techniques are:
Scope of Method Study
The scope of method study is not restricted to only manufacturing industries. Method study techniques can be applied effectively in service sector as well. It can be applied in offices, hospitals, banks and other service organizations. The areas to which method study can be applied successfully in manufacturing are:
Steps or Procedure Involved in Methods Study
The basic approach to method study consists of the following eight steps. The detailed procedure for conducting the method study is shown in the following figure.
Method study procedure
Only the first two steps have been dealt in detail.
Selection of the Job for Method Study
Cost is the main criteria for selection of a job, process and department for methods analysis. To carry out the method study, a job is selected such that the proposed method achieves one or more of the following results:
CONSIDERATIONS FOR SELECTION OF METHOD STUDY
The job should be selected for the method study based upon the following considerations:
Other factors which favor selection in technical aspect are:
Recording Techniques for Method Study
The next step in basic procedure, after selecting the work to be studied is to record all facts relating to the existing method. In order that the activities selected for investigation may be visualized in their entirety and in order to improve them through subsequent critical examination, it is essential to have some means of placing on record all the necessary facts about the existing method. Records are very much useful to make before and after comparison to assess the effectiveness of the proposed improved method.
The recording techniques are designed to simplify and standardize the recording work. For this purpose charts and diagrams are used.
The method study techniques are explained below
Recording techniques for method study
CHARTS USED IN METHODS STUDY
This is the most popular method of recording the facts. The activities comprising the jobs are recorded using method study symbols. A great care is to be taken in preparing the charts so that the information it shows is easily understood and recognized. The following information should be given in the chart. These charts are used to measure the movement of operator or work (i.e., in motion study).
Types of Charts
It can be broadly divided into (A) Macro motion charts and (B) Micro motion charts. Macro motion charts are used for macro motion study and micro motion charts are used for micro motion study. Macro motion study is one which can be measured through ‘stop watch’ and micro motion study is one which cannot be measured through stop watch.
MACRO MOTION CHARTS
Following four charts are used under this type:
The flow process chart is useful:
Like operation process chart, flow process chart is constructed by placing symbols one below another as per the occurrence of the activities and are joined by a vertical line. A brief description of the activity is written on the right hand side of the activity symbol and time or distance is given on the left hand side.
Diagrams Used in Method Study
The flow process chart shows the sequence and nature of movement but it does not clearly show the path of movements. In the paths of movements, there are often undesirable features such as congestion, back tracking and unnecessary long movements. To record these unnecessary features, representation of the working area in the form of flow diagrams, string diagrams can be made:
Diagrams are of two types:
One of the most valuable features of the string diagram is the actual distance travelled during the period of study to be calculated by relating the length of the thread used to the scale of drawing. Thus, it helps to make a very effective comparison between different layouts or methods of doing job in terms of the travelling involved. The main advantages of string diagram compared to flow diagram is that respective movements between work stations which are difficult to be traced on the flow diagram can be conveniently shown on string diagram.
Following are the procedures to draw string diagram:
Symbols Used in Method Study
Graphical method of recording was originated by Gilberth, in order to make the presentation of the facts clearly without any ambiguity and to enable to grasp them quickly and clearly. It is useful to use symbols instead of written description.
METHOD STUDY SYMBOLS
An operation occurs when an object is intentionally changed in one or more of its characteristics (physical or chemical). This indicates the main steps in a process, method or procedure.
An operation always takes the object one stage ahead towards completion.
Examples of operation are:
An inspection occurs when an object is examined and compared with standard for quality and quantity. The inspection examples are:
A transport indicates the movement of workers, materials or equipment from one place to another.
Movement of materials from one work station to another.
Workers travelling to bring tools.
Delay D: Delay (Temporary Storage)
A delay occurs when the immediate performance of the next planned thing does not take
Storage occurs when the object is kept in an authorized custody and is protected against unauthorized removal. For example, materials kept in stores to be distributed to various work.
ILLUSTRATION 1. Develop a Process Chart for making a cheese sandwich.
SOLUTION. The following chart is one possible solution. The level of detail in process charts depends upon the requirements of the job. Time is often included to aid analysis of value added.
Distance in Symbol Process description meter
Develop a Multiple Activity Chart for doing three loads of laundry, assume you will have access to one washing machine and one dryer.
The following chart is one possible solution. The level of detail in process charts depends upon the requirements of the job. Time is often included to aid analysis of value added.
MICRO-MOTION STUDY CHART
Micro-motion study provides a technique for recording and timing an activity. It is a set of techniques intended to divide the human activities in a groups of movements or micro-motions (called Therbligs) and the study of such movements helps to find for an operator one best pattern
of movements that consumes less time and requires less effort to accomplish the task. Therbligs were suggested by Frank O. Gilbreth, the founder of motion study. Micro-motion study was mainly employed for the job analysis. Its other applications include:
SIMO chart symbols
The micro-motion group of techniques is based on the idea of dividing human activities into division of movements or groups of movements (Therbligs) according to purpose for which they are made. Gilbreth differentiated 17 fundamental hand or hand and eye motions. Each Therbligs has a specific color, symbol and letter for recording purposes. The Therbligs are micro-motion study involves the following steps:
Simultaneous motion cycle chart (SIMO chart) is a recording technique for micro-motion study. A SIMO chart is a chart based on the film analysis, used to record simultaneously on a common time scale the Therbligs or a group of Therbligs performed by different parts of the body of one or more operators.
It is the micro-motion form of the man type flow process chart. To prepare SIMO chart, an elaborate procedure and use of expensive equipment are required and this study is justified when the saving resulting from study will be very high.
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