Setting Work Standards

The improvement of work should precede the setting of work standards. Obviously, if changes are made in the method of performing an operation, the time required for the performance will be changed.

Once the improved method is found, it should be standardized and all workers should be trained in using the improved method.

Managers use time standards to answer a number of important questions:

1. What is the time required for each operation in the scheduling of production?
2. How can production in one department, or at one machine be balanced with other department and machine in the plant?
3. How can the company develop a solid basis or a standard cost accounting system?
4. What amount of time will a job take for the purpose of estimating the price to place in a bid?
5. What basis is best for an incentive system?

The original method of setting time standards time standards is F W Taylor’s procedure of using a stopwatch to time a representative man actually working on a given job.

Because stopwatch time study has received considerable criticism, other methods of setting standards have been developed. Several of these (methods-time measurement, work factor, basic motion time study) make use of catalogues of motions, with a table of time values for each. The catalogues contain data that have been developed thorough detailed research in laboratories. They are the basis fro setting time standards without the use of a stopwatch.

Another technique of work measurement that has received increased attention is work sampling. It can be for two purposes:

1. to determine the percent of time that workers are engaged in different activities (or not engaged in any productive effort), in order to find the proper allowance to be added to normal time, and
2. to set standards for irregular work and for indirect labor

Work sampling depends upon random sampling theory. It involves the breaking down of the total working time of all workers who perform the operation into instants of time that are used as the basic unit for sampling. The exact instants of time for actual observation are determined by some random method. After the observer tallies the action occurring at a large number of different instants of time, the total number of instants at which each type of activity has been observed is divided by the total number of observations, the results are the percentage of instants at which each type of activity was observed. These percentages are the basic data provided by work sampling. This yield directly the information needed for determining allowances.

The setting of time standards is a difficult and important problem for management. Because time standards have many valuable applications, it is worth considerable effort to make them as sound as possible.

If a time standard is set hastily, management will have difficulty instilling confidence not only in that standard but also in the entire standards program. A “loose” standard is difficult to change once it has been adopted. A worker on a job having a “loose” standard becomes accustomed to the low requirements. If management tries to ‘tighten’ the standard, the worker will charge that it is attempting to “speed up” and that there is no reason to try to meet or exceed the standard if management is going to take as evidence that the standard needs raising. It is for this reason that a basic policy of management should be that once a time standard is set for an operation, it will not be changed unless the operation has been hanged in some significant manner. With such a policy, management is faced with the problem of determining just what type of change is significant. Typically, workers tend to make a number of small improvements in a job, none of which warrants a restudy. Accurate description of the job when it was timed, therefore, becomes especially important as a basis for determining just when a job has changed enough to need a new standard. Comparison of the description at the time of the previous study with the current operation will provide a means of showing workers the reason for the study.

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