time and motion study

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time and motion study

time and motion study, analysis of the operations required to produce a manufactured article in a factory, with the aim of increasing efficiency. Each operation is studied minutely and analyzed in order to eliminate unnecessary motions and thus reduce production time and raise output, which increases productivity. The first effort at time study was made by F. W. Taylor in the 1880s. Early in the 20th cent., Frank and Lillian Gilbreth developed a more systematic and sophisticated method of time and motion study for industry, taking into account the limits of human physical and mental capacity and the importance of a good physical environment.
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time and motion study

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Time and Motion Study


a method of studying the utilization of working time by means of continuous observation and measurement of all expenditures of time over the course of a shift.

Time and motion studies are made in order to identify unused reserves of labor productivity. The information they provide is used to determine the way labor time has been actually used, the actual volume of production, and the rates of output over the course of a shift. The studies also reveal and explain losses of working time and provide data used in setting norms governing the time to be spent on starting up and shutting down processes and equipment and on maintaining the work area. Norms governing rest periods and the maintenance of equipment and machines are also set using data from the studies.

Time and motion studies make it possible to expose obsolete and erroneous norms, to analyze the utilization of working time by peredoviki (exemplary workers), to determine the optimal number of workers for a brigade and the most efficient way of dividing labor under the brigade method of labor organization, and to obtain data on the hourly level of output over the course of a shift. The studies can be carried out on individuals, groups, brigades, and operators of more than one machine. Other types of studies include those encompassing production lines and those carried out by the workers themselves.

In carrying out a time and motion study, the observer, after completing the preparatory steps, records all the operations performed by the worker or workers under observation and accounts for all expenditures of time over the course of a shift or shift segment. The observer’s report is then analyzed, and organizational and technical measures are introduced to eliminate time losses. The results of the study are also used in setting norms for the balance of the workday and in calculating coefficients of working time.


Zakharov, N. N. Tekhnicheskoe normirovanie truda i mashinostroenii. Moscow, 1958.
Trugman, M. I., and A. I. Budilov. Spravochnik normirovshchika promyshlennogo predpriiatiia. Moscow, 1966.
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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

time and motion study

[¦tīm ən ′mō·shən ‚stəd·ē]
(industrial engineering)
Observation, analysis, and measurement of the steps in the performance of a job to determine a standard time for each performance. Also known as time-motion study.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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