Method Study

Method Study is a technique which analyses each operation of a given piece of work very closely in order to eliminate unnecessary operations and to approach the quickest and easiest method of performing each necessary operation; it includes the standardization of equipment, method and working conditions; and training of the operator to follow the standard method.  The philosophy of method study is that ‘there is always a better way of doing a job’ and the tools of method study are designed to systematically arrive at this better way of doing a job.   Method study is essentially used for finding better ways of doing work. It is a technique for cost reduction.

Method Study may also be defined as the systematic investigation of the existing method of doing a job in order to develop and install an easy, rapid, efficient and effective and less fatiguing procedure for doing the same and at lower costs. This is generally achieved by eliminating unnecessary motions involved in a certain procedure or by changing the sequence of operations or the process itself.

Method study is also known as methods engineering. The following  definition,  appears in the 3rd edition  of the Industrial Engineering Handbook. “The technique that subjects each operation of a given piece of work to close analysis to eliminate  every unnecessary element or operation and to approach the quickest and best method of performing  each necessary element or operation. It includes the improvement and standardization of  methods, equipment, and working conditions: operator training; the determination of standard  time; and occasionally devising and administering various incentive plans.”

Frank Gilbreth defines method study as “the science of eliminating wastefulness resulting from ill-directed and inefficient motions”. The main purpose is to find the scheme of least wastage of human resource. The modern concept of method study is a development of Gilbreth’s Technique of Motion Study.

Objectives of Method Study

The following are the objectives of Method Study:

  • Improvement of manufacturing processes and methods
  • Improvement of working conditions
  • Improvement to plant layout and work place layout
  • Reducing the human effort and fatigue
  • Reduced health hazards
  • Reducing material handling
  • Improvement of plant and equipment design
  • Improvement in the utility of materials, machines and man power and
  • Ensuring safety

Method Study Procedure

The following are the procedures and steps in Method Study.

1. Select the work worth studying and define the objectives to be achieved. An objective may be to reduce the manufacturing cost or to reduce bottleneck or to reduce fatigue incurred by the workers in order to increasing their efficiency.

2. Record all the relevant information pertaining to the existing method in details and in the form of a chart to obtain a more clear picture about the same. Recording can be done with the help of the following aids:

  • Process Charts,
  • Diagrams,
  • Motion and Film Analysis, and
  • Models.

3. Examine the recorded events critically and in sequence. It involves answer to a number of questions. An activity can be eliminated, simplified or combined with another. The likely questions to be asked are:

  • Purpose – What is done?
  • Person – Who does it?
  • Place – Where it is done?
  • Means – How is it done?
  • Sequence – When is it done?

4. Develop the best method as resulted form critical examination and record it. The developed method should be practical, safe effective and economical.

5. Installation of the (best) developed method or the improved method. It involves planning, arranging and implementing. During planning and arranging, necessary arrangements of resources, equipments, tools and instruction to workers overtime etc. are made. The actual installation involves the introduction of developed method as standard practice.

6. Maintain the new method. We should ensure the proper functioning of the installed method by periodic checks and verifications. If there are any deviations, the reasons for deviation should be explored and corrected. Views of the workers, supervisors and other person related with the authorize method can be of immense help in exploring further improvements.


Scientific management was further developed by the husband and wife  Frank  and  Lillian Gilbreth.  Gilbreth family managed to create  micromotion  that can record every movement made €‹ €‹by the workers and the length of time spent to perform each of these movements.  futile gesture which eluded the naked eye can be identified with this tool, and then removed.  Family Gilbreth also devised a classification scheme for naming seventeen basic hand movements (such as searching, grasping, holding) they call  therbligs(from their surname, Gilbreth, who spelled backwards with the letters  th  fixed).  The scheme allows the Gilbreth family in a more precise analyzes of the elements of each movement of the hands of workers.

THERBLIGS - Method Study

Scheme that they get from their observations on how the preparation of bricks.  Previously, Frank worked as a building contractor found that a worker did 18 motion for laying bricks for the exterior and 18 interior motion also.  Through research, he removes movements unnecessary so that the necessary movement to put the brick exterior was reduced from 18 to 5 motion movement.  As for the interior brick, it drastically reduces the movement of 18 to be 2 movement alone.  By using techniques Gilbreth, raw builders can be more productive and less fatigue at the end of the day.

For the purpose of recording the motions, he split up different motion of process into 17 fundamental elements made by various members of human body and each event was allotted a symbol and letter abbreviation. These symbols and abbreviations are used for preparing Motion Study charts.

Simultaneous Motion Cycle (SIMO) Chart

A SIMO chart, often based on film analysis used to record simultaneously on a common time scale the therbligs or groups of therbligs performed by different parts of the body of one or more workers.

The SIMO Chart is the micro-motion form of the man type flow process chart. Because SIMO charts are used primarily for operations of short duration, often performed with extreme rapidity, it is generally necessary to compile them from films made of the operation which can be stopped at any point or projected in slow motion. It is recorded by a ‘wink counter’ placed in such a position that be seen rotating during the filming.

To prepare such a chart, an elaborate procedure and the use of expensive equipment are required. Investigation in this degree of detail is only justified when the saving resulted from improved method will defray the cost of the work involved.

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