Steps in Method Study22/02/2020
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.
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 organization.
The process is often seen as a linear, described by its main steps of:
- Select (the work to be studied);
- Record (all relevant information about that work);
- Examine (the recorded information);
- Develop (an improved way of doing things);
- Install (the new method as standard practice);
- Maintain (the new standard proactive).
Although this linear representation shows the underlying simplicity of method study, in practice the process is much more one of repeated passes through the sequence of steps with each dominating at a different stage of the investigation.
The cyclic process often starts with a quick, rough pass in which preliminary data are collected and examined before subsequent passes provide and handle more comprehensive and more detailed data to obtain and analyse a more complete picture.
- Selection of Work/Job to be Studied
This is one of the most important tasks to select appropriate job, activity or situation for method analysis and mainly it is a managerial responsibility. Method study and its implementation will cost money.
Practically any activity is a potential project for improvement but only those jobs should be selected when there are some valid reasons for method study (like job/activity is unpopular or considered dirty by workers). Maximum cost benefit is the normal objective.
- Collection and Recording of Necessary Information
Obtain the facts about the present method of doing the job and record them. In order to improve an activity or procedure the factual information is collected from the place where the job under study is being executed by direct visual observation.
This can be done by:
(i) Recording movement of machines or materials.
(ii) Recording the critical procedure in the job.
(iii) Recording the operator’s performance.
(iv) Recording the path of movement of workers w.r.t. machines and allied operations
(v) Recording the path of movement to improve workplace layout.
(vi) Recording the scrap generated
There are many standardized techniques (i.e. charts, diagrams, graphs etc.) available which may be used for proper recording and presentation for further analysis. The choice of technique depends on the type of information which is to be recorded.
This is an important step since the improvement m existing method or development of new method depends on how exactly the facts about the existing method have been recorded.
- Critical Examination of the Existing Method
Now examine the facts critically. This is a key step in the whole study. The information available in the form of chart and graphs after step II can now be thoroughly studied and analysed m order to detect the production stages where improvement in the method is possible. This is achieved by questioning the different activities of the process in a systematic logical and objective manner.
- Develop the New Improved Method
The analysis of existing work method can provide a starting point for a synthesis of suggested improvements in job performance. The technique specially designed for improving work method is called the process improvement formula.
The four steps of the formula are:
(i) Eliminate the unnecessary activities
(ii) Combine two or more activities
(iii) Sequence the various activities properly
(iv) Simplify the activities
Complete elimination of unwanted activities is the most important step in developing an improved method. If elimination is not possible then possibility of combining the different activities should be explored. The next strategy in development stage is to identify scope of changes in the sequence of operations or activities.
The last and most important plus expensive step in process of method development is the simplification of activities in order to allow the operator/worker to complete the job more quickly and easily by reducing the number of operations, reducing or eliminating the delays and storage etc.
Finally after selecting the work method to be adopted, certain amount of experimentation will be required to locate and eliminate snags if any.
Specify the improved method. It is essential that the selected method be described fully and in a systematic manner.
Specifications of the selected method accomplish several purposes like:
(i) Communication of the method to the management for its approval
(ii) Communication to those concerned with its implementation like instructions to workers and so far as the machines and layout are concerned
(iii) Provision of an official record of the method
The new method should possess the following aspects:
(a) Full use of worker’s body
(b) Arrangements of workplace
(c) Design of tools and Equipment
The acceptance of new method will mainly depend upon the cost benefit, trade unions approach, working hours and security requirements etc.
- Install the Improved Method
This involves training of those who are going to utilize the new method. Cooperation from both supervisory staff and operators is essential to the successful installation of any proposed and selected method. So the installation of the new method should then be entrusted to some responsible person.
The method implemented can be further improved by way of continuous observations and discussions. The trial runs may be carried out during which minor modifications may be made to facilitate working.
Any method selected is ultimately to be utilized by the employees in an environment created by the management. So employees and management should be subjected to intensive analysis so that the proposed method is operated in the best possible manner.
Installation phase of the method study is complete as soon as the newly installed method starts working smoothly and satisfactorily and provides encouraging result (such as time saving and scrap reduction etc.).
- Maintain the Improved Method
Even after the workers have been trained and requisite changes in machines and layout have been incorporated, there is no guarantee that the method will be used the way it was designed.
The proper functioning of the installed method is ensured by periodic checks and verifications. The purpose of checks and reverse is to determine if the method being adopted and practised is the same or it has some deviation from the selected one.
Reasons for deviation if any should be explored and the required changes may be incorporated in the procedure being practised so as to revert back to the authorized or selected one.
Views of persons concerned (like operators and supervisors) with the installed method can be of much help in exploring further improvements in the system. Therefore the method should be reviewed at intervals to provide allowances for any changes.