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Industrial Engineering Method Study

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Industrial Engineering Method Study applied at : FIBC BAG Manufacturing Unit

What is Method Study In Industrial Engineering

Method study is the process of subjecting work to systematic, critical scrutiny to make it more effective and/or more efficient. It is one of the keys to achieving productivity improvement.

Industrial engineering Method Study is the first of the two main divisions of wotk study and is concerned with the way in which work is done. Method study is essentially used for finding better ways of doing work. It is a technique for cost reduction. 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.
It was originally designed for the analysis and improvement of repetitive manual work but it can be used for all types of activity at all levels of an organisation

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Main objectives of the industrial engineering method study

The objectives of method study can be :

•    The improvement of processes and procedures.
•    The improvement of factory, shop and workplace layout.
•    The improvement of the design of plant and equipment.
•    Economy in human effort and the reduction of unnecessary fatigue.
•    Improvements in the use of materials, machines and manpower.
•    The development of a better physical working environment.
•    Improvement of quality of the products.

The distinction of method study is that it is a step-by-step procedure for improvements of methods of work, starting with the objectives, the selection of the activity to be studied, it proceeds to the collection and recording of the facts. The critical examination of the facts is the crux of the method study. This is followed by development of an improved method and the attainment of assured results• in terms of greater output, cost savings and other benefit. This standard procedure, with flexibility of critical examination makes method study the most penetrating tool of investigation known to the Management.

The eight steps in the industrial engineering method study procedure are:

1.    Select the work to be studied and define its boundaries.
2.    Record the relevant facts about the task being undertaken by direct observation and collect such additional data as may be needed from the appropriate sources.
3.    Examine the way the job is being performed and challenge its purpose, place, sequence and method of performance.
4.    Develop the most practical, economic and effective method, drawing on the assistance of those concerned.
5.    Evaluate different alternatives to developing a new improved method, comparing the costs and efficiencies of these methods with the current method.
6.    Define the new method clearly and present it to those concerned.
7.    Install the new method as a standard practice and train the people involved in its application.
8.    Maintain the new method and introduce controls to prevent the slip back to the old method.

Work selected for method study may be an identified problem area or an identified opportunity. It may be identified through a systematic review of available data, normal monitoring or control processes, high levels of dissatisfaction and complaint or as part of a change in management policy, practice, technology or location, and usually because it meets certain conditions of urgency and/or priority.
Where to Look For :

  • Poor use of resources
  • Bad layout
  • Bottlenecks
  • Inconsistent quality
  • High fatiguing work
  • Excessive overtime
  • Employee’s complaints

Before any method study investigation is begun, it is necessary to establish clear terms of reference which define the aims, scale, scope and constraints of the investigation. This should also include an identification of who "owns" the problem or situation and ways in which such ownership is shared. This may lead to a debate on the aims of the project, on reporting mechanisms and frequencies, and on the measures of success. This process is sometimes introduced as a separate and distinct phase of method study, as the "Define" stage. It leads to a plan for the investigation which identifies appropriate techniques, personnel, and timescale.

The Record stage of method study involves gathering sufficient data (in terms of both quality and quantity) to act as the basis of evaluation and examination. A wide range of techniques are available for recording; the choice depends on the nature of the investigation; the work being studied; and on the level of detail required. Many of the techniques are simple charts and diagrams, but these may be supplemented by photographic and video recording, and by computer based techniques.
Especially with "hard" (clearly defined) problems, method study often involves the construction and analysis of models, from simple charts and diagrams used to record and represent the situation to full, computerised simulations. Manipulation of and experimentation on the models leads to ideas for development.

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  1. In order to visualize selected activities in their “entirety” for investigation, with a view to improve them by subsequent critical analysis, it is necessary to have some means of placing on record all the necessary facts of the existing method
  2. A record is essential if a “before and after” comparison is to be made to assess the effectiveness of the investigation and the subsequent installation of the new method.
  3. Use the simplest and most economical technique – chosen according to the nature of the job being studied and the purpose for which the record is required.



  1. Ensure adequacy, correctness and accuracy of facts recorded.
  2. Present the facts in a concise and comprehensive manner for analysis.
  3. Ensure a common and standard way to communicate among the various personnel.
  4. Identify or differentiate between productive and non-productive activities.

The following information should be provided in all charts and diagrams:

  • an adequate description of all the activities or movements entailed in the method;
  • whether the present or proposed method is shown;
  • the specific reference to where activities begin and air;
  • the time and distance scales used, where applicable;
  • an explanation of any abbreviations or special devices;
  • the date of construction of the chart or diagram.

The information may be obtained by direct observation, by calculation or by means of a photographic technique. In the case of very detailed (micromotion) studies, elaborate equipment and specialized knowledge is necessary.

Sometimes more than one technique may be used to provide all the necessary information.


For Proces & Time

Outline or Operation process charts – for principal operations and inspections.
Flow process charts – for activities of men, material or equipment.
Two-handed process charts – for manual operations using both hands.
Multiple activity charts – for activities of men and/or machines on a common time scale.
Simultaneous motion cycle (simo) charts – for the activities of a worker’s hands, legs and other body movements on a common time scale.

For Path of Movements

Flow and string diagrams – for paths of movement of men, materials or equipment.
2- and 3-dimensional models – for layout of workplace or plant.
Cyclegraphs and chronocyclegraphs – for high speed, short-cycle operations.
Block diagrams – for coordinating activities between people at different locations.
Travel charts – for distances between any number of places.


Process Chart Symbols
Symbol Activity Predominant Results



Produces, changes, accomplishes, furthers the process.



Moves, carries or walks.



Holds, keeps or retains.



Waits, interferes or delays.



Verifies, checks quantity and/or quality.

For OPCs and FPCs, these symbols represent the steps in the procedure or manufacturing process.

For two-handed process charts, they represent the elements of the work cycle.

Where an operation and inspection take place simultaneously, the symbols are combined.

It is also possible to combine operation or inspection with transport symbols.


Gives an overall view of a process, from which it can be decided whether a further and more detailed record is needed.

Is a graphic representation of the points at which materials are introduced into a process, and of the sequence of all main operations and inspections associated with the process.

It is concerned only with operations and inspections - only 2 of the 5 recording symbols are used.

The chart does not show where work takes place, or who performs it.

Useful application – in the design stage of a product.

OPCs are used to assist in the layout of plant and in the design of the product or of the machinery for making that product.

The charts record the basic data, which can then be subjected to the complete method study procedure while still on the drawing board.

Features in the design which are wasteful or material or labour can often be eliminated. Also, expensive equipment may be found unnecessary in the light of the investigation.


In the beginning, decide in what detail operations are to be recorded and consistency must be shown throughout the chart. It is then constructed by following the same person or material from the start of the job to the end of the last activity.

A start is made by drawing an arrow to show the entry of the main material or component. Above the arrow write a description of the component; below the arrow, write a description of the condition.

As each operation or inspection takes place, the appropriate symbol is entered.

The symbols are numbered in sequence. On the right of the symbol write a brief description of the operation or inspection; on the left note the time taken, if required.

The major process is drawn towards the right-hand side of the chart and the subsidiary processes are to its left. These subsidiary processes are joined to one another and to the main trunk at the place of entry of the materials or sub-assemblies.

Operations and inspections are numbered commencing with the major process and continuing until a point of entry of a subsidiary process is reached. The sequence of numbering is then continued from the start of the subsidiary process and proceeds down that subsidiary process and the main trunk if necessary, until the next point of entry of another subsidiary process.

When the shape, size or nature of a material being processed is changed that its handling properties from then on are altered, the change is shown on the chart by breaking the chart line and inserting a brief legend describing the changed nature of the material.

When an operation divides a material into several parts, which from then on receive separate treatment, the main trunk is divided into the appropriate number of branches. The right-hand branch will normally represent the major flow and other flows will be drawn successively toward the left of the chart in order of importance. The proportion of the original material in each branch may be shown above the branch if needed.

When it is necessary to carry out the same operation at more than one place or by more than one operator, the chart can be split into two or more paths, each of which represents a duplication of the operations. This can also be done to show that some material may follow alternative but complementary routes during a process.

When simultaneous operations have to be carried out on the main part of a unit and an assembled component, a partial dismantling may be unavoidable at times.

When the chart is complete, a summary must be given to show the numbers of operations and inspections respectively. The total time taken may be included for completeness.

The chart is now ready for the examine and develop stages of the basic method study procedure.


A flow process chart sets out the sequence of the flow of a product or procedure by recording all the events in details under review. It is an amplification of the OPC in that it shows all the 5 activities or functions of the process.

A FPC expresses the process in terms of the events as they affect the material being processed, or the activities of the man or the use of certain types of equipment.
Only the activities of the particular subject to which it refers (man, material or equipment) are recorded on any single chart.

FPCs recording simultaneous activities of 2 or more subjects can be presented alongside each other on the same sheet of paper to indicate more clearly their interdependence.


The conventions used in the construction of a FPC and the methods of construction are the same as for the OPC, except that all 5 symbols are used.

The distance traveled is recorded on the left of the symbol for transport in the same way as time is recorded against operations. The total distance is then entered in the summary at the foot of the chart.

A FPC may be enhanced by making use of colours and hatching in order to show up some particular aspect of a process. To show movement in one way or another, the direction the transport symbol faces may be altered.

When a particular activity extends over a large area covering different workplaces, a clearer understanding of what is done at each place is obtained if they are separated on the chart. The movement between the sections concerned is also brought out.


2-handed process charts, Simo charts, cyclegraphs and chronocyclegraphs are used in micromotion analysis, which is concerned with the most detailed aspects of methods improvement.

Micromotion analysis is expensive to conduct and should be undertaken only after large scale improvements have been fully investigated as a result of using the other recording techniques.


A two-handed process chart is used for further detailed study of manual work for maintenance or assembly work, being more applicable to operators staying stationary, working in one place.

It gives a synchronized and graphical representation of the sequence of manual activities that take into account only the use of hands and arms of the worker.

A two-handed process chart has 2 columns, one for each hand. The symbols representing the activities of the left hand and the right hand are recorded in the respective columns. The symbols in the two columns on the chart are aligned so that simultaneous movements by both hands appear opposite each other. A brief description of each activity is inserted beside the corresponding symbol.

The inspection symbol of FPCs is omitted as inspections will be shown as movements of the hands. They can be labeled as inspections by bracketing such movements and writing the word in. The triangle symbol represents hold instead of storage.

When only an overall picture of the activities at the workplace is required, the activities of the hands are described solely in terms of operations.

If more detail is required for the study, then the symbols for transport (hand moving), delay (empty hand at rest) and hold will also be used.

Neither paths of movement, nor detailed movements of hands and arms are shown. These charts are used to assess whether the expense of detailed micromotion analysis is justified.

Movements of the two feet can be recorded by making two additional columns.

When further distinction is necessary, the operation activity of a two-handed process chart may be divided into the following:

Make ready activities    These are concerned with the preparation of material or workpiece, plant or equipment and set in position to enable “Do” operations or “Inspections” to be performed.

Do operations    These represent the actual performance of work on the material or work with plant and equipment and they result in a change in the properties or characteristics (shape, physical condition or chemical composition) of the material.

Put away activities    During which the work is moved aside from the machine or workplace.
These are concerned with the placing aside or clearing up work from the machine or workplace after the “Do” operation or “Inspection”.
The “put away” activities of one operation may be the “make ready” activities of the next.

The recorded data are subjected to examination and analysis; formalised versions of this process are critical examination and systems analysis. The aim is to identify, often through a structured, questioning process, those points of the overall system of work that require improvements or offer opportunity for beneficial change.

Develop & Evaluate
The Examine stage merges into the Develop stage of the investigation as more thorough analysis leads automatically to identified areas of change. The aim here is to identify possible actions for improvement and to subject these to evaluation in order to develop a preferred solution.

Sometimes it is necessary to identify short-term and long-term solutions so that improvements can be made (relatively) immediately, while longer-term changes are implemented and come to fruition.

The success of any method study project is realised when actual change is made 'on the ground' - change that meets the originally specified terms of reference for the project. Thus, the Install phase is very important. Making theoretical change is easy; making real change demands careful planning - and handling of the people involved in the situation under review. They may need reassuring, retraining and supporting through the acquisition of new skills. Install, in some cases ,will require a parallel running of old and new systems, in others, it may need the build-up of buffer stocks, and other planning to manage the change. what matters is that the introduction of new working methods is successful. There is often only one chance to make change!

Some time after the introduction of new working methods, it is necessary to check that the new method is working, that it is being properly followed, and that it has brought about the desired results. This is the Maintain phase. Method drift is common - when people either revert to old ways of workin, or introduce new changes. Some of these may be helpful and should formally be incorporated; others may be inefficient or unsafe. A methods audit can be used to formally compare practice with the defined method and identify such irregularities.

Tools in Method Study

Article Keywords : Industrial Engineering Method Study, Industrial Engineering Methodology, Industrial Engineering Concepts,Industrial Engineering principles,

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