A time study is an analysis of the production process that is designed to improve efficiency by identifying areas of production where time is wasted. It can be conducted by a firm that specializes in such studies or it may be directed by personnel within a company. Time studies can reduce waste and streamline the production process to make it go by more quickly. Companies of all types and sizes can utilize efficiency studies to improve their performance.
The first step in a time study involves breaking down the process into a series of discrete units that can be studied independently. The administrator of the study analyzes the entire process to pick out the steps, and then looks at each step individually. This includes examining how steps are performed, identifying unnecessary motions and activities that happen during each step, and timing the optimal completion of each step.
Another term for a time study is a time and motion study, in reference to the fact that the motions made at each step are studied as well. Once the entire process has been thoroughly studied, a report can be prepared to detail where areas of inefficiency lie and to provide suggestions for improvement. Improvements can include retraining employees, moving parts of the process around, replacing equipment, and taking other steps to cut down on the time spent at each stage of the process. The time study can also include a metric for evaluating performance afterward to determine whether or not the business is meeting its goals.
The concept of the time study dates to the turn of the 20th century, when workplaces were becoming increasingly repetitive and mechanized. Studies were used to identify areas of the manufacturing process that needed improvement and to make gains in employee efficiency. A number of early pioneers in the manufacturing world were involved in streamlining production processes and developing methods for assessing assembly lines and working environments.
In addition to being used in the business community, time studies can also be applied in other areas. Students sometimes find that breaking studying into discrete tasks and studying the process can help them study more effectively. Likewise, athletes may use a variation of the time study to analyze their workout routines and look for areas where they could benefit from improvement. The same techniques that work in offices and on assembly lines can be applied to other activities in life.