Time Study Methods in Operations Management

October 19, 2023

Time Study Methods in Operations Management


mbawankar |

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Time study in industrial engineering is an essential tool in the industry, only in industry? or in day to day life? of course in day to day life too.

Recently, one of my neighbors started a new business of furniture shop. On the very first day of start-up, he has received an order of 10 Tables for office purpose with client expectations of delivery within a week. As the business was new, he actually didn’t know whether he would be able to deliver the tables within the committed period of time.

On first day, he worked alone to make one table and find out one person can make one table in 4 hours. Likewise, for 10 tables, he will require 5 days if he worked alone.

And on 5th Day, he completed the order successfully and happily delivered the order of 10 tables to the customer to make him happy with the fastest delivery time.

Industry also work in a same way, like in one shop or in house we manage our activities based on the time required to perform that task, in Industry too, time study is one of the most important topic.

Time study in operation management is an essential tool as it allows organizations to measure the time required to complete a specific task or set of tasks.

Time study analysis results in optimization of the processes by improving resource allocations and it also play vital role in setting realistic targets. Apart from this, time study plays an important role in identifying training needs and monitoring the performance of the system.

There are different methods for time measurement, one of them is stopwatch time study, this is the oldest one. Apart from that, Predetermined Motion Time System (PMTS), Work Sampling, Production study are the regularly used time measurement methods.

In this article we will go through what is time study, its importance and methods which are popularly used in operations management.

Time Study

What is Time Study?

Time study is an “art of directly observing and measuring the time needed to perform a specific task.

In time study whole task is broken into small activities called elements. Time required to perform for each element is recorded. This results in estimation of time required to perform each task.

Why Time Study?

The purpose of time study is to determine the standard time taken by workman with specified skills and ability to performance task to know…

  • Number of Workers
  • Numbers of Machines
  • Lead Time
  • Overall Production Schedule
  • Set Production Goals
  • Labor Cost etc.

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Type of Time Study Methods / Time Study Techniques :

1. Stopwatch Time Study:

Stopwatch time study is a method of time study that involves the use of a stopwatch to measure the time taken by a worker to complete a task. The following are the steps involved in stopwatch time study:

Stopwatch Time Study

Stopwatch time study is useful in situations where the task or activity being studied is highly repetitive and the environment is stable. It is the cost-effective way to identify opportunities for improvement and increase efficiency.

However, it may not be appropriate for tasks that are variable or require a lot of judgment and decision-making.

2. Predetermined Motion Time System (PMTS):

PMTS is based on the principle that every task consists of a series of predetermined basic motions, each of which takes a certain amount of time to complete.

The PMTS system involves breaking down a task into its individual basic motions and assigning a predetermined time value to each motion. These time values are based on extensive time and motion studies and are stored in a database or reference manual.

PMTS System

PMTS is a standardized system that is based on empirical data, which makes it objective and reliable. It is also easy to learn and apply, which makes it suitable for a wide range of tasks and industries. PMTS can help organizations to identify inefficiencies, optimize work processes, and improve productivity.

Popularly known PMTS techniques in the markets are MODAPTS, MOST, MTM UAS, etc.

3. Work Sampling:

This is the statistical technique which is used to determine the time frame that workers spend on various tasks or activities.

The following are the steps involved in Work Sampling:

Work Sampling

Work sampling is particularly useful when it is difficult or impractical to perform a time study on every activity or task. It can be used to obtain a representative sample of a worker’s activities without having to monitor them constantly.

Work sampling is a powerful tool for process improvement and resource allocation. It is used in a wide range of industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, and service industries.

4. Production Study:

Production study is a method of time and motion study that is used to measure the time taken to produce a product or complete a project. It involves analyzing the entire production process, including all the activities and tasks involved, to identify areas of inefficiency and waste.

Production Study

Production study is an effective tool for process improvement and cost reduction. By recognizing areas of inefficiency and waste, it can help to optimize production processes and increase productivity. It can also lead to improved worker safety, job satisfaction, and morale, as workers are more likely to enjoy their work when it is optimized for efficiency.

Comparison of Stopwatch Time Study vs PMTS:



Stopwatch Time Study


Stopwatch Required Yes No, Time is predetermined in data card
Performance Rating Required Not Required
Ergonomically Sensitive No Yes
Method Sensitive No Yes
Accuracy Inconvenient for high accuracy Highly Accurate


Benefits / Importance of Time Study Methods:

  • Increase Efficiency:

    Time study helps in identifying inefficient processes and areas of waste within an organization. By analyzing the time taken to complete a task, it is possible to identify areas where the process can be improved or streamlined, leading to increased efficiency and productivity.

  • Better Resource Allocation:

    Time study helps in determining the required resources and staff for a given task. This helps in avoiding overstaffing, reducing labor costs and reducing unnecessary resource consumption. Effective Resource Allocation can be possible with used of varieties of Industrial Engineering tools like

    1. Man-Machine Chart
    2. SWCT (Standard Work Combination Table)
    3. Rotation of Resources
    4. Line Balancing, etc.
  • Improved Planning and Scheduling:

    With accurate data from time study, it is possible to create accurate project plans and schedules, which can improve planning and decision-making in an organization.

  • Cost Control:

    By identifying areas of waste and inefficiency, time study can help to reduce costs, optimize resources, and increase profitability.

Challenges of Time Study Methods:

  • Subjectivity in task or Variability:

    • The variability of tasks and processes can affect the accuracy of time study results. It may be difficult to capture all the variables involved in a task, leading to incomplete or inaccurate data.
  • Human Error:

    • Time study requires a high level of accuracy in data collection, and any errors in observation or recording can affect the results. Observer bias might be a problem, where an observer’s may unintentionally influence the outcome of the study.
  • Resistance to Change:

    • Workers may resist time study because they feel it is intrusive or that their performance is being monitored. This can make it difficult to get buy-in from workers and to implement changes based on the study results.
  • Process Changes:

    • Process changes may occur during the time study, making it difficult to accurately capture the data and compare results before and after the changes.
  • Ethical Considerations:

    • Time study may raise ethical concerns, particularly around privacy and surveillance. It is important to ensure that the study is conducted in a respectful and ethical manner and that workers are fully informed about the process.

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Time study plays a very important role in calculation of manpower, production targets, machines required, etc.

Over the period of time PMI has gained expertise in the work measurement techniques (time study methods) right from stop watch time study to PMTS techniques.

PMI assisted its client across different sectors like automobile, pharmaceutical, composites industry, tyre industry, plywood industry, etc. for productivity improvement, process improvement and sot reduction.

Overall, time study is an essential tool for any organization seeking to improve its efficiency, but it is important to be aware of the challenges involved and to address them appropriately to ensure accurate results and a successful outcome.


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