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methods engineering[′meth·ədz ‚en·jə′nir·iŋ]
A technique used by progressive management to improve productivity and reduce costs in both direct and indirect operations of manufacturing and non-manufacturing business organizations. Methods engineering is applicable in any enterprise wherever human effort is required. It can be defined as the systematic procedure for subjecting all direct and indirect operations to close scrutiny in order to introduce improvements that will make work easier to perform and will allow work to be done smoother in less time, and with less energy, effort, and fatigue, with less investment per unit. The ultimate objective of methods engineering is profit improvement. See Operations research, Productivity
Methods engineering includes five activities: planning, methods study, standardization, work measurement, and controls. Methods engineering, through planning, first identifies the amount of time that should be spent on a project so as to get as much of the potential savings as is practical. Invariably the most profitable jobs to study are those with the most repetition, the highest labor content (human work as distinguished from mechanical or process work), the highest labor cost, or the longest life-span. Next, through methods study, methods are improved by observing what is currently being done and then by developing better ways of doing it. The standardization phase includes the training of the operator to follow the standard method. Then the number of standard hours in which operators working with standard performances can do their job is determined by measurement. Finally, the established method is periodically audited, and various management controls are adjusted with the new time data. The system may include a plan for compensating labor that encourages attaining or surpassing a standard performance.