Time & Motion Studies: Overview

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  • 0:02 The School of…
  • 1:26 Examples
  • 2:49 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley

Shawn has a masters of public administration, JD, and a BA in political science.

Time and motion studies were important tools used by followers of the scientific management school of thought. In this lesson, you will learn about time and motion studies. You'll also find out what a therblig is. You can then test your knowledge with a quiz.

The School of Scientific Management

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, with the rise of industry and factories that produced large numbers of consumer items, there developed a school of thought called scientific management, which sought to improve the efficiency of labor, and therefore, profits of the factory owners, by analyzing the process of industry and the work environment.

This school of thought was initially developed by Frederick Winslow Taylor, a mechanical engineer. Although we don't really use the term 'scientific management' anymore, the tools developed during that era are still used in business and management today.

One of the tools used in early scientific management studies, developed by Taylor himself, is the time study, which breaks down the distinct motions required for a work task into separate components and times each motion. The goal is to determine the appropriate amount of time it should take to complete each component of the task.

The other tool developed during the scientific management era and discussed in this lesson, the motion study, examines the exact types and numbers of motions required to perform a work task. The goal of the motion study is to eliminate any unnecessary motions from the task, thus increasing productivity.

The motion study was developed by Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, a married couple that were significant contributors to scientific management. They had a name for each distinct part of a task, the therblig.

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