Top 6 Techniques of Scientific Management

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Everything you need to know about the techniques and methods of scientific management. “Scientific Management is a conscious orderly human approach to the performance of management responsibilities as contested with the day in and day-out rule of thumb, hit or miss-approach”.

According to Harlow Person “the term scientific management characterizes that form of organization and procedure in purposive collective effort which rests on principles or laws derived by the process of scientific investigation and analysis, instead of a traditions or a policies determined empirically and causally by the process of trail or error.”

Some of the techniques and methods of scientific management are:- 1. Work Study 2. Functional Foremanship 3. Standardisation and Simplification of Work 4. Differential Piece Wage System 5. Mental Revolution 6. Scientific Task Setting.


Top 6 Techniques and Methods of Scientific Management as Suggested by Taylor and His Associates

Techniques of Scientific Management – According to the Experiments Conducted by Taylor

While Taylor’s principles focused on basic principles of training and controlling, it also focused on determining scientific approaches to managing operations (or getting things done) of an organisation in an optimal manner.

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To determine suitable scientific techniques, Taylor conducted several experiments to identify the best performance level for certain jobs as described below:

Technique # 1. Functional Foremanship:

According to Taylor functional foremanship is a mana­gement technique wherein the duties of a traditional foreman are distributed between several workers. This technique separates the planning function and executive function in an organisation. Functional foremanship is considered to be an extention of the principle of division of work and specialisation.

For example- under ‘Production-in-Charge’, the duty of a traditional foreman “Speed Boss” is to ensure timely completion of jobs. This Speed Boss will employ workers who are specifically instructed to check that the jobs are completed on time. These workers will be accountable for the specific work who will report back to the Speed Boss for further instruction.

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Functional foremanship thus implies that a specialised capability of a functional foreman (like the Speed Boss) who will have specialised powers to oversee, instruct and guide workers. This foreman will plan number of workers required for the job and his/her duties will be divided among these workers. The workers will also be selected based on their qualifications and capabilities in accordance to the job. In the Speed Boss example, the selected workers should be capable of being alert and stern and have certain experience with the work in the organisation. Each worker will be responsible to check on different activities in the organisation as per the instructions of the foreman.

Technique # 2. Standardisation and Simplification of Work:

Standardisation of work means the processes of work are well-integrated, specified or programmed. Standardisation of work attempts to eliminate spoilage and wastage of resources. Accordingly standardisa­tion of work during production involves consistent form, size composition, methods and quality maintained for all products / services. Alternatively simplifica­tion of work means processes involved are consistent in terms of effort, costs and time.

Simplification of work complements standardisation by creating consistency in products / processes in terms of sizes / weights, types, qualities, etc. Simplification of work aims at restricting production of products to limited qualities or types that facilitate efficiency in resources utilised in the business. It attempts to eliminate useless and disadvantageous diversity and variety.

For example, an umbrella manufacturer requires raw materials like the handle (place to hold), shaft (the metal stick that connects handle to the canopy), canopy (protective fabric), etc. As per customer requirements, umbrella manufacturer decides the canopy colour to be crimson red, the rib length should be 53 centimetres, weight of the overall umbrella should be 192 grams, etc.

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Correspondingly, the manufacturer uses standardised techniques, machines and tools that can produce umbrellas of specified size and colour in feasible working conditions for workers. To avoid any wastes from diversity the umbrella manufacturer simplifies the work process by manufacturing umbrellas in two different canopy colours- crimson red and blue.

Technique # 3. Method Study:

Method study is the process that specifies the methods and activities considered in a job though an operations’ chart. Method study can be defined as the systematic recording and critical examination of existing and proposed ways of doing work, as a means of developing and applying easier and more effective methods and reducing costs. It is an extensive study of the whole operational process which aims at eliminating unnecessary elements of operations to obtain the fastest and the best method of performing a specific job.

It involves selecting a specific job to be done or a problem area, defining the job / problem area, recording and collecting relevant information about the job/problem area, considering alternative methods of doing a job or solving the problem, examining and developing relevant processes or solutions, installing or implementing the particular methods and processes to tackle the job / problem area as well as regularly maintain the processes and methods by obtaining feedback and monitoring processes.

The main objectives of method study are:

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(a) To improve processes and procedures.

(b) To improve factory, shop or workplace layout.

(c) To improve the design of plant and equipment.

(d) To bring about economy in human effort and reduce unnecessary fatigue.

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(e) To efficiently utilise raw materials, machines and human resources.

(f) To develop a better physical environment.

(g) To improve the quality of products.

Technique # 4. Motion Study:

Motion studies were developed by Frank and Lillian Gilbreth as an engineering and management technique. They maintained visual records (or movies) on the details of the workers’ activities to recognise possible areas of improvement during work.

Motion study is based on the phrase “work smarter, not harder”. It is the study of body motions used while working with the intention of improving the work methods. The principles laid down by the Gilbreths can be categorised into three major components-Use of human body; Arrangement of workplace and; Design of tools and equipment. Principles under use of human body implied suitable techniques in bodily movements workers could consider in a working environment that ensures personal safety, no injuries and increased productivity.

For example- a box should be lifted with two hands and while lifting the body should be bent in a way that avoids any spine injury. Also, arrangement of workplace implies that all tools, machines and equipment should be arranged suitably to make working conditions comfortable. For example machines should be fixed and final output is directly and automatically placed in boxes and packed. Similarly, design of tools and equipment should make work more feasible and efficient for workers. For example- multiple boxes can be lifted by one employee with the help of a fork lift.

Motion studies can eliminate useless and superfluous movements, while economis­ing on time and increasing workers’ efficiency. It also helps reducing fatigue among workers and helps establish standards of performance that involves – selection of efficient workers; analysis of motions involved in each job; finding the optimum time required to operate with minimal energy; keeping record of best motions and minimum time taken to perform a task and advocating the most appropriate motions while discarding the unnecessary motions.

Technique # 5. Time Study:

Time studies unlike motion studies, study the time taken by worker of reasonable skills and abilities to perform various elements of the tasks in a job. Time study is an observational study pioneered by Frederick Taylor that records, analyses and synthesises the time and elements of any operation, also allowing for fatigue and for unavoidable and personal delay. The purpose of time study is to determine the time normally required to perform a particular job and a fair days work (standard time multiplied by working hours equals fair days’ work) for the worker using timekeeping devices like stopwatches.

These studies are usually used when there are repetitive work cycles of short to long duration, wide variety of dissimilar work, or when process control elements constitute a part of the cycle. Its importance can be realised with calculation of costs of production, implementation of wage payment schemes, budgeting, resource allocation and production scheduling, establishment of production quotas for hourly- waged workers (part-time / contractual) and finally, for establishment of standard labour costs.

Accordingly, time studies attempt to include the following opera­tions:

(a) Sub-division of work.

(b) Recording the time taken by different employees to complete a task.

(c) Selecting the average worker.

(d) Recording the time taken by the average worker in performing the same work under normal conditions.

(e) Determining the standard time for the work.

Time studies, however, have several disadvantages. It cannot be used for non-repetitive jobs. It has limited use with jobs / tasks that are associated with quality. It is looked upon by suspicion and distrust among workers. Labour unions considered time study as a disguised tool of management designed to standardise and intensify the pace of production. Lastly, performance and pace of workers in terms of time can be very subjective.

Technique # 6. Fatigue Study:

Like motion studies, fatigue study was devised by Frank and Lillian Gilbreth. The Gilbreths studied the causes of fatigue due to long working hours, poor working conditions, unsuitable work, unhappy relations with superiors or collea­gues, etc. The fatigue studies determined the duration and frequency of rest intervals to complete a particular job. The rest refreshes workers to gain full capacity and efficiency in work.

Technique # 7. Differential Piece Wage System:

Frederick Taylor devised the differential piece wage system to motivate the workers by paying more to the most efficient worker. This system differentiated efficiency in terms of high wages and low wages. Workers who are most efficient earned higher wages than workers who were relatively less efficient. This system focuses on providing incentive to workers that encourages them to improve their performance. This system worked especially for mass production of goods leading to cost minimisation and profit maximisation.

Technique # 8. Mental Revolution:

In January 1912, Frederick Taylor testified before a House of Representatives committee investigating the effects of scientific management on the industry as quoted below:

“…sweep away a good deal of rubbish.”

“Scientific management was not any efficiency device…It is not a system of figuring costs; it is not a new system of paying men…it is not holding a stopwatch on a man…it is not a time study; it is not a motion study…not any of the devices which the average man calls to mind when scientific management is spoken of.”

“On the contrary, it was a complete mental revolution on the part of the working man and an equally complete mental revolution on the part of those on the management side. And without this complete mental revolution on both sides scientific management does not exist.” —Quotes by Frederick W. Taylor

The above mentioned quoted words by Taylor, clearly state the importance of workers and management working together to develop creative and innovative ideas and activities in an industry.

The meaning of mental revolution by Taylor was:

(a) Workers and management should have a complete change of outlook towards their mutual relations and work effort. A sense of integrity and responsibility among workers and management should be directed towards creating a product/service that is useful for both the parties.

(b) Management should create suitable and humane working conditions and solve all problems systematically and scientifically. For example, nobody would prefer to live in an unkempt and dirty house and the same mind set applies to any environment where one spends more than 6 hours of stay working or studying.

(c) Workers should also attend to their jobs with keenness, alertness, devotion and carefulness that do not lead to wastage of resources.

(d) Workers and management both should be paid an effective remuneration that supports the costs and standards of living.

(e) A sense of belongingness should be created for the workers.

(f) In return, workers should reflect discipline, loyalty and sincerity for fulfilling the tasks assigned to them.

(g) Businesses can expect more production and economic growth at a faster rate with development of harmonious relationships between workers and management.

Many experts have reflected on the importance of mental revolution over a period of time. For example- Peter Drucker has acknowledged that businesses should create useful products / services for customers. Profit, according to Drucker, was a reward for economic service and not the cause for a business’ survival. Noam Chomsky also viewed that businesses should create and innovate products / services that support stakeholders’ interests rather than shareholders’ interest.


Techniques of Scientific Management – Standardization, Motion Study, Time Study, Functional Foremanship, Differential Piece Rate Plan and Other Techniques

1. Standardization:

The methods of selecting standard tools and equipment to be used by workers as well as of maintaining standard working conditions with respect to lights, ventilations, etc., at the workplace are collectively termed as standardization. Tools and equipment must responds to quality standards without which operating workmanship is bound to suffer. At the same time, working conditions need to be congenial for efficient performance of jobs.

2. Motion Study:

Motion study is a technique that helps a manager to identify productive and unproductive motions of a worker. The main objective is to reduce or avoid unproductive and neat movements of the worker while performing a task; it gives an observation of the movement of the body and hands to perform a job.

3. Time Study:

Time study is a technique used to measure the time that may be taken by a workman of reasonable skill and ability to perform various elements of the tasks in a job. In time study, a worker of reasonable skill and ability is selected. Then a person watches him and with the help of a stop watch, notes the time spent on different activities. It helps in deciding how much time is normally required to perform a certain job.

4. Functional Foremanship:

Improving the quality of supervision of workers, Taylor formulated the idea of functional foremanship. In this, a worker is supervised by several specialist foremen. For example, matters relating to speed of work are looked after by the foreman called speed boss, breakdowns and repairs are supervised by the repair boss who is specialized in repairs, and so on. Taylor identified different types of functional foremen. He believed that a single person cannot be competent to supervise all functional matters. Each worker should be supervised by specialists.

5. Differential Piece Rate Plan:

This method of wage payment involves payment to workers on the basis of number of pieces produced. Worker, when produces more than a standard unit of output, he is paid at a higher rate per piece on the total output. Contrary to this, if someone produces less than the standard output, he is paid at a low rate per piece. Thus the efficient workers are paid at a better rate than the inefficient ones. Due to different rates for different sets of workers, it is known as differential piece rate plan.

6. Other Techniques:

Instruction cards, slide rules, graphs, charts, are also used by management in planning and standardising the tasks.


Techniques of Scientific Management – Work Study, Method Study, Time Study, Motion Study, Fatigue Study, Scientific Task Planning and a Few Others

i. Work study – Work study is the systematic study of all the tasks involving the operational efficiency of any specific activity. This study is a critical assessment of the efficiency of various operations in an enterprise. Taylor advocated work study to improve operational efficiency.

ii. Method study – There are various methods of doing a particular job. Method study finds out the best method of doing the job. This study helps in improving work methods so as to minimize costs and maximize quality of goods produced.

iii. Time study – Time study is a study of the time taken by the workers to perform each particular industrial operation. This study involves a careful study of the ‘time’ in which a particular work ought to be done. It helps in establishing the standard time taken to perform a specific job. Time study helps in measuring the number of workers to be employed in various operations.

iv. Motion study – Motion study is a study of the movements (i.e., motions) of men, materials, and machines in the production process. This study helps in eliminating useless movements so that it takes less time to complete the job efficiently. It helps in developing an efficient system of operations by discarding all ill-directed move­ments. This helps in achieving higher productivity and efficiency.

v. Fatigue study – Fatigue study is a study of the amount of rest (i.e., break) needed by workers for completing a task. A worker is bound to feel physically and/or mentally tired if he keeps on working without interruption for a long time. Fatigue study ensures that the performance of the standard task by workers should not lead to physical and/or mental exhaustion.

vi. Scientific task planning – Scientific task planning calls for decisions as regards – (a) What work is to be done? (b) How is it to be done? (c) Where is it to be done? (d) When is it to be done?

vii. Standardization of work – Standardization refers to the process of setting standards for every business activity. Standardization of production methods, equipment, tools, working conditions, performance of work­ers, etc., are necessary in order to ensure quality of manufactured goods. Setting of standard for every indus­trial activity is essential in order to maximize output. Standards are considered as benchmarks that should be attained during production.

viii. Differential piece wage system – This plan was suggested by Taylor to attract efficient workers. There are two piece wage rates based on the efficiency of workers (i.e., one rate for below efficient workers and the other rate for higher efficient workers). Taylor wanted to reward efficient workers. As a result, efficient workers earn wages at a higher piece rate and inefficient workers get wages at lower piece rate. Therefore, slow workers get penalized. This system of wage payment encourages workers to attain higher standard of performance and thereby earn higher wages.

ix. Functional foremanship – This is a form of organization that involves supervision of workers by several spe­cialist foremen. Taylor believed that a single foreman is not competent enough to supervise all functional matters. The purpose of functional foremanship is to improve the quality of supervision by employing specialist foremen.


Techniques of Scientific Management – As Suggested by Taylor and his Associates

To put the philosophy of scientific management into practice, Taylor and his associates suggested the following techniques:

1. Scientific Task Setting:

It is essential to set the standard task which an average worker should do during a working day; Taylor called it “a fair day’s work.”

2. Work Study:

Work study implies an organised, objective, systematic, analytical and critical assessment of the efficiency of various operations in an enterprise.

It includes the following techniques:

(i) Method Study:

It is the study which is conducted to know the best method of doing a particular job. It helps in reducing distance travelled by materials and brings improvement in handling, transporting, inspection and storage of raw materials and goods.

(ii) Motion Study:

It is the study of the movement of an operator or a machine. Its purpose is to eliminate useless motions and find out the best method of doing a particular job.

(iii) Time Study or Work Measurement:

Time study is the technique of observing and recording the time required to do each element of an industrial operation. Through this study, the precise time required for each element of a man’s work is determined. It helps in fixing the standard time required to do a particular job.

(iv) Fatigue Study:

Fatigue, physical or mental, has an adverse effect on worker’s health and his efficiency. This study helps in reducing fatigue among the workers.

3. Planning the Task:

Taylor emphasised the need for planning the work. He advocated that planning function should be separated from the executive function. Workers should not be asked to choose their own methods and decide what they have to do. The detailed planning should be done by the planning department. The planning department should prepare detailed instructions for the workers as to the type, quality and quantity of the products to be produced.

4. Standardisation:

Taylor advocated the standardisation of tools and equipment, cost system and several other items. Efforts should be made to provide standardised working environment and methods of production to the workers.

5. Scientific Selection and Training:

The management should design scientific selection procedure so that the right men are selected for the right job. Workers should be specifically trained for the jobs they are appointed so that they can perform their job is effectively.

6. Differential Piece-Wage Plan:

This plan was suggested by Taylor to attract highly efficient workers. Under this plan, there are two piece work rates, one is lower and another is higher. The standard of efficiency is determined either in terms of time or output based on time and motion study. If a worker finishes work within standard time or he produces more than standard output within the standard time, he will be given higher piece rate. On the other hand, if a worker is below the standard, he shall be given lower piece rate.

7. Specialisation:

Taylor advocated ‘functional foremanship’ to introduce specialisation. He recommended eight foremen in all to control the various aspects of production. He suggested four foremen in the planning department, namely, route clerk, instruction card clerk, time and cost clerk and shop disciplinarian. The four foremen recommended for getting the required performance from the workers include gang boss, speed boss, repair boss and inspector.


Techniques of Scientific Management – Functional Foremanship, Standardization and Simplification of Work and Work-Study Techniques

1. Functional Foremanship:

The operational level of management is responsible for effective and efficient implementation of plans. The operational level managers are responsible for planning the production process, achieving desired production targets and controlling floor activities to minimize wastage and costs.

Thus, Taylor concentrated on improving the performance at operational level in a factory set-up. He identified the qualities required in a good supervisor and realised that it would be difficult to find all the qualities in one individual. Therefore, he advocated the separation of planning and execution and developed the technique of functional foremanship, which is actually an extension of division of labour and specialisation.

Under Functional Foremanship, Taylor suggested that planning and production in the factory should be managed by separate in charge working under factory manager. Each in charge is assisted by four personnel, who gives instructions or orders to workers in the factory. Each foreman/supervisor is assigned responsibilities according to his/her capabilities.

The planning in charge would be assisted by four personnel:

i. Instruction card clerk for drafting instructions for workers,

ii. Route clerk to specify the production route,

iii. Time and cost clerk for preparing time and cost sheet and

iv. Disciplinarian for maintaining discipline in the factory.

The production in charge would be assisted by four personnel:

i. Speed boss – He/she is responsible to complete the job accurately and timely;

ii. Gang boss – He/she is responsible to keep machines and tools ready for operations;

iii. Repair boss – He/she will be responsible for keeping the machines and tools in proper working conditions and

iv. Inspector – He/she will be responsible to check and maintain quality of work.

2. Standardization and Simplification of Work:

Taylor, a great supporter of standardization has mentioned in his scientific principle ‘Science not thumb rule’ that business should analyse different methods of production used in the past to select the best practices and refine them to develop standard methods to be followed throughout the organisation.

Taylor developed work-study techniques like time study, motion study, fatigue study and method study to develop standardized methods of work.

Standardization refers to setting standards for each business activity. It can be a process, raw material, time, product, machinery, methods or working conditions.

Standards are the benchmarks followed during production to achieve following objectives:

i. To produce products of fixed types, sizes and characteristics.

ii. To establish interchangeability of manufactured parts and products.

iii. To establish standards of excellence and quality in materials.

iv. To establish standards of performance for men and machines.

Simplification aims to eliminate superfluous varieties, sizes, dimensions, and diversity of products. It leads to optimum utilisation of resources, increased production, lower labour and overhead costs and lesser stock levels.

Work-Study Techniques:

i. Method Study:

Method study is followed to find the best possible way of doing a particular job.

It involves establishing a method to be followed to complete a particular job. The method study decides the sequence of operations, placing of human and physical resources like machines, raw material etc. The production techniques devised using method study aim to minimize the cost of production and maximize efficiency, quality and customer satisfaction.

For example – The process followed for purchasing of raw material, producing finished product, its packaging, delivery to customer are all part of method study.

Taylor has devised the concept of assembly line by using method study. Process charts, operations research, batch production etc. are the few examples of production techniques based on method study.

ii. Motion Study:

Motion study refers to the study of movements like lifting, putting objects, sitting and changing positions etc., which are undertaken while doing a typical job. Motion study designs the best method to perform repeated jobs. Through motion study, unnecessary movements are eliminated and task can be completed in minimum time with greater efficiency.

There are three types of body motions – (i) Productive motions (ii) Incidental motions and (iii) Unproductive motions.

Taylor and his associate Frank Gailberth used cameras, stopwatches, various symbols and colours to identify different motions. They designed suitable equipment to eliminate unproductive motions and developed tools to educate and train workers.

Gailberth and Taylor used motion study to bring in efficiency in the process of brick layering in the factory they were working. By employing unskilled workers to check the bricks and sort them, they were able to reduce motions from 18 to 5. This increased the productivity by four times.

Examples of businesses using Motion Study – Automobile service stations, banks, departmental stores, ticket counters etc.

iii. Time Study:

Time Study determines the standard time taken to perform a well-defined job. To determine the standard time, time measuring devices like stopwatches are used to measure time taken to perform a repeated activity. It requires to measure time for each element of activity. The standard time is determined using average of several readings taken to perform the same activity. The method of Time study depends on volume and frequency of the task, the cycle time of the operation and time measurement costs.

The objective of time study is to determine the number of workers to be employed, frame suitable incentive schemes and determine labour costs.

Example – Factory manager of Joy Works Ltd. was preparing a production schedule. He was planning to give targets to every employee but was not sure how to do so. He decided to observe all workers and to check on their productivity. After several observations it was determined that a worker takes 5 minutes to pack one box.

Therefore, in one hour, he can pack 12 boxes and in an 8-hour shift, he can pack 84 boxes with one-hour lunch break. The manager could fix the task to be completed in a standard time. Once the standards were fixed, he could easily set targets and determine wages and incentives to achieve maximum productivity and efficiency.

iv. Fatigue Study:

Fatigue study considers the fact that an individual is bound to get tired physically and mentally while working for a long period of time. Therefore, he/she needs rest at regular intervals of time. The short breaks while working help to regain stamina to work with same energy leading to increased productivity. Fatigue study seeks to determine the amount and frequency of rest intervals required while completing a task.

Fatigue study suggests that long working hours, unsuitable work, lack of cooperation among workers, bad working conditions etc. cause fatigue among workers. For effectiveness of fatigue study, all the hindrances to work must be removed.

Example – Just imagine a school day without any breaks. You may have to attend lessons one after the other. Would you be able to concentrate? I am sure you will not. That is why schools have the concept of short and long breaks. Similarly, workers need rest intervals so that they can recharge their energy level for optimum contribution therefore every business organisation may it be factory or office, has lunch and tea breaks.

3. Differential Piece Wage System:

Taylor advocated the differentiation between efficient and inefficient workers. He suggested that once the business follows work-study techniques to determine the standard time and other standard parameters it becomes easy to classify the efficient and inefficient workers. He proposed that to achieve maximum productivity of workers it is important that efficiency is recognized in terms of appreciation and rewards.

To achieve this, Taylor introduced different rate of wage payment for those who perform above standard and for those who perform below standard.

For example – The factory head of Best Quality Products Ltd fixed the standard output as 10 units per day and the standard wage rate as Rs.50 per unit if the standards are met. He also mentioned in the wage policy that if any worker fails to meet the standards he will be paid Rs.40 per unit and if a worker exceeds standard output maintaining quality will be paid Rs.60 per unit for units produced above standard output.

i. Worker ‘A’ produced 13 units a day so received wages of Rs.680 {(50 x 10) + (60 x 3)}

ii. Worker ‘B’ produced 10 units a day so received wages of Rs.500 (50 x 10)

iii. Worker ‘C’ produced 8 units a day so received wages of Rs.320 (40 x 8)

Worker A’s efficiency and productivity was rewarded with higher wages whereas worker C was penalized for under performance. The difference in wages will motivate C to work with greater efficiency to achieve standards and B will be motivated to exceed standards so that he can earn higher wages. Thus differential wage rate will motivate workers to achieve their maximum productivity.

Taylor as one of his experiences at Bethlehem Steel has mentioned that after following scientific management techniques one of the workers called ‘Schmidt’ could earn 60% more wages. He could earn from $1.15 to $1.85 on increasing pig iron loading from 12.5 tons per man per day to 47 tons per man per day in boxcars.

To conclude, a company can achieve efficiency and maximum productivity if it follows techniques of scientific management to select the best method, which helps to determine a fair day’s work. The fixed standards help to set targets for workers and act as a yardstick to measure workers’ efficiency. The company must have differential compensation system giving due importance to group efforts and individual efficiency of workers. This motivates workers arid managers to work in harmony for maximizing the output.

Taylor emphasized that success of any business techniques depends on the mindset of workers and the management. According to him, workers must contribute their might for company’s growth and in return, management must share the company’s profits and success with workers. This will result in cooperation amongst management and workers instead of suspicion and competition. Taylor referred the change in mindset as ‘Mental Revolution’.

Let us study some practical applications of F. W. Taylor’s scientific management:

i. ‘Operations Research’ was developed during the Second World War to optimize the deployment of war material.

ii. ‘Assembly line’ method of production was discovered by F. W. Taylor was used by Ford motor company for manufacturing ‘Model T’ car for the masses. This concept is used by almost all factories involved in mass production.


Techniques of Scientific Management – Work Study, Scientific Task Planning, Scientific Selection and Training of Workers, Standardization and Simplification and a Few Others

Below, a summary of the important elements or techniques of ‘Scientific Management’, as developed by Taylor and others:

1. Work Study (Method, Time, Motion and Fatigue Study).

2. Scientific Task Planning.

3. Scientific Selection and Training of workers.

4. Standardization and Simplification.

5. Mental Revolution on the part of both management and workers.

Technique # 1. Work Study:

Work study means combining or integrating several techniques which can be applied to all kinds of efficiency problems, including labor productivity problems.

The main object of work study is to improve efficiency, in other words, (a) Getting same output by using fewer resources or, alternatively, using same resources on the task or duty but getting increased output, (b) Reducing number of workers engaged for performance of each task; (c) Designing a plan of action which costs less than the existing cost, and (d) Reduction in wastage of materials, scrap ratios, and so on.

Determination of ‘Fair Day’s Work’ or ‘Standard Task’:

In the absence of work standards specifying a daily output in the case of each worker and relationship between output and wages, determination of “a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay” may become diffi­cult. Taylor’s experience at the Midvale Steel Works showed that the management generally adopted a “rule of thumb” approach which led to a large amount of waste.

Fair day’s work for each worker is determined scientifically; detailed experiments and analysis is done to determine how much work an average worker would do if his task, method of work and working conditions are standardized and if there is spirit of co-operation and trust between the man­agement and workers.

According to Taylor, a fair day’s work in the case of each worker should be neither too heavy nor too light. Frank Gilbreth was the first to analyze different tasks into fundamental work elements, such as searching, finding, selecting, grasping, holding, transporting, loading, positioning, assembling, etc.

He gave a name therblig (i.e., Gilbreth spelt backwards), to work elements contained in the various tasks performed by workers. Therbligs are used to conduct method studies, each therblig having different symbol and color.

Analysis of a task into fundamental work elements is necessary not only for the sake of account­ability, but also to determine the time required to complete each element.

Methods to Determine ‘Fair Day’s Work’ or ‘Standard Task’:

The important techniques for determination of a fair day’s work or standard task are as follows:

(a) Method Study

(b) Motion Study

(c) Time Study

(d) Fatigue Study

(a) Method Study:

Method study means the study of methods to ensure that they are performed in the best possible way, i.e., by the best method.

The basic steps in method study are – (a) Selection of the task or duty to be studied; (b) Recording its details and the methods to be employed to perform it; (c) Development of a new method; (d) Instal­lation of the new method; and (f) Maintenance of the new method, that is to say, regular review of the new method to test its viability in the changed circumstances.

Method study will provide maximum benefit when it is conducted at the planning stage itself, i.e., before the plant or machinery is installed, workers employed, and expenses incurred, because then it would point to the ideal plant lay-out and the most efficient and least expensive manner of perfor­mance of individual jobs. However, it may also be undertaken as regards the jobs already in progress.

(b) Motion Study:

Motion study means study of movements of both operator and his machine to identify and eliminate unnecessary motions of both.

The need for motion study was highlighted by Taylor, though the credit for introducing mathemat­ical precision in this field should logically go to the husband-wife team of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth, who used different symbols, colors and microfilming to identify motions.

Motion study can be done through a careful observation, and recording, by using a stop-watch, of the following aspects of work:

(i) How much time a worker takes in moving from one job to another;

(ii) Whether he can use both hands without undue straining;

(iii) Whether the work is such that it needs to be put down every time it has to be picked up again; and

(iv) What tools or equipment would make the work easier and faster to perform.

Upon a close study of body motions involved in each operation, it is possible to determine which of the motions are—

(i) Productive, i.e., those directly contributing to the making of the product;

(ii) Incidental, i.e. those not directly contributing to the making of the product but necessary all the same (for example, going to the factory store and waiting for materials and tools to be issued), and

(iii) Unproductive, e.g., those which are neither essential nor incidental to production and therefore need to be eliminated.

Predetermined Motion Time Systems (PMTS) have collected and compiled, with remarkable pre­cision, all relevant information as regards what time it takes a worker to perform certain bodily move­ments. Accordingly, it takes 3.0 milli-minutes (three thousandth of a minute) to reach out one’s hand, 1.6 milli-minutes to grasp something in one’s hand, and 8.2 milli-minutes to turn from the hip through 45°.

Thus, if one knows how long each motion takes and what essential motions are necessary to per­form a particular job, it should not be difficult to determine how long it should take a person working at the standard rate to perform it. Also, it should be easy to know how long each different method of performing the job might take, If any worker takes longer to perform a job, it is an indication that he is performing certain useless motions which need to be identified and eliminated.

Through a combination of Method and Motion Studies, Taylor developed suitable equipment for certain types of jobs. He educated his workers on correct motions for proper performance of their tasks. He also introduced suitable rest intervals. The results achieved by him were indeed amazing; only 140 workers could now do what was earlier done by no less than 400 workers.

(c) Time Study or ‘Work Measurement’:

Time study means a “work measurement technique” designed to establish the time for a qualified worker to carry out specified elements under specified conditions at a defined rate of working, recorded by direct observation of the times, using a time measuring device and the ratings for individual elements.

The method used for timing will depend on the volume and frequency of the task, the cycle-time of each operation and the cost of conducting the measurement program. For extreme accuracy of tim­ing, stopwatch is used to measure each element. The study necessitates splitting up of a task or activity into a number of parts to know how long it will take a worker to perform it.

Time study necessitates splitting up of a job into a number of parts to know how long each of the different workers engaged in it will take to perform it. This will help not only in fixing responsibility in respect of performing each part of the job, but also in determining standard timings for different parts of the job.

For example, the PMTS technique lays down that it takes 0.11 minute to undo a 3 inch knot from a bolt, 7.6 minutes to strip off and replace the brake lining of a tractor, 9.7 minutes to test one electric circuit and so on.

Once standard timings for completion of each part of a task are determined, it becomes easy to calculate the standard timings for completion of the task as a whole. Thus it could be held that replace­ment of main shaft takes 27.4 hours, overhauling of a machine takes 3.25 hours, and so on.

(d) Fatigue Study— What Tires Out Workers:

Fatigue study means study of the levels of physical and mental exhaustion caused by performance of the standard task. It aims to determine the length of time for which a worker can perform a standard task without adversely affecting his health and efficiency.

Taylor was among the first few to conduct scientific analysis of each job from the point of view of physical and mental strain on the part of workers. He introduced suitable rest intervals as also the optimum size of tools to be used while performing any job.

For example, the shoveling experiments carried on by him led to the determination of the optimum size of the shovels which, combined with appropriate training and incentive-wages, enabled him to increase the worker pro­ductivity from sixteen to fifty nine tons shoveled per day, then reducing the number of shovellers from 400 to 140.

Technique # 2. Scientific Task Planning:

What is Task Planning?

Scientific production planning may be defined as the technique of forecasting and picturing ahead every step in a long series of separate operations, each step to be taken in the right place, of the right degree, and at the right time, and each operation to be done at maximum efficiency level.

Planning of production activities calls for decisions as to:

1. What work is to be done;

2. How it is to be done;

3. Where it is to be done; and

4. When it is to be done.

If a concern has only one product, and if it is processed only on a single machine, then there is not much need to plan its production activity in advance. It can go on manufacturing a given quan­tity of the product till such time as it is necessary to maintain stocks at a pre-determined level.

Still, some ratio will have to be maintained between the quantity produced each day and the stock levels. The rate of production will also have to bear some relation with the predetermined quality, and the question of cost control will have to be given due importance.

Where the undertaking manufactures a number of products, each of them passing through a num­ber of processes involving different machines, it will have to be especially careful as regards produc­tion planning because it may, from time to time, be called upon to adjust its input and output rates in tune with any changes in technological processes.

Objectives—Why ‘Task Planning’?

Production planning aims at the following:

(a) To lay down production targets and see that they are met on schedule;

(b) To ensure that there is strict quality control in the production of goods;

(c) To minimize costs by ensuring proper control measures;

(d) To bring about proper division of labor and encourage specialization;

(e) To work available human and physical resources to their maximum capacity;

(f) To maximize sales volume by speeding up production and honoring delivery schedules.

(g) To offer necessary cost information to help in the determination of selling price; and

(h) To ensure that production activity is not held up due to faulty or inadequate supply of mate­rials, tools and equipment.

What does Production Program Indicate?

Production program indicates the following:

(a) Quantity of goods to be manufactured;

(b) Time by which the goods should be ready;

(c) Sources from where, and the price at which, raw materials are to be procured;

(d) Tools and equipment; and

(e) Manpower (whether existing staff is enough or new recruitment required)

However, before finalizing the production program, the position relating to availability of raw materials, market demand, plant capacity, finance, etc., should be carefully studied.

How is Task or Production Program Planned?

To ensure the success of any production program, it should be executed in the following order:

I. Routing, i.e., establishing the sequence of production operations.

II. Scheduling, i.e., setting the deadlines, e.g., the limits of time before which a work is to be done.

III. Dispatching, i.e., issuing orders for proceeding with the work of production.

IV. Feedback, i.e., recording the actual performance and assessing it in terms of the planned tar­gets.

Technique # 3. Selection and Training of Workers:

No Square Pegs in Round Holes:

Taylor believed that it was important to spot the right person for the right job. He was against fitting of square pegs in round holes.

To this end, he said only technical and behavioral experts should be assigned the task of selection of workers. Taylor says job-applicants should be given various tests to determine their acumen for the job in question. He had developed a speed and reaction test for quality control inspectors.

Job-Specific Training:

Taylor was strongly in favor of job-specific training to workers. He said the consequence of not doing so would be that they would learn it on the job, causing loss of material and machinery.

Technique # 4. Standardization:

Objectives of Standardization:

Taylor is in favor of standardization to achieve the following:

(a) Restricting the line of products to pre-determined type, form, size, design, weight, Quality, etc.

(b) Manufacture of identical parts and components, such that they are easily inter-changeable.

(c) Establishment of standard methods, standard time, standard quality and standard perfor­mance on the part of workers.

Standard Product:

A long product range, where one product is little different from the other, complicates production activity. Production Department would be hard put to cope with it. Even the customer may not like it because of difficulty of choice.

The best thing, therefore, would be to standardize the product as also its components. The form, design, size, weight and quality of the standard product would meet the requirements and tastes of a wide variety of customers.

In motor car industry, for example, one model of a car is apparently different from the others, but their parts such as gears, frames, springs, nuts and bolts, are nearly the same.

Standard Materials:

Standardization of product can only be achieved if materials used to manufacture it are of a standard type and quality. If a worker handles a different type or quality of materials each time, both quantity and quality of his output will come down.

Standard Tools and Equipment:

It is important to standardize the tools and equipment handled by workers. Take the case of a factory where hammers, shovels, screws, etc., are all of a standard size and weight. A worker will soon get accustomed to using his tools.

If the tools are of different sizes and weight, it would not be easy for him because every time he picks up a tool, he will need to adjust his reflexes to suit the size and weight of the tool. This will affect his output per hour. Also, the quality of goods produced by him may decline.

Taylor says it is better to have uniform tools of inferior quality than mixture of superior and low-quality tools.

Standard Methods:

Establishing standard methods will require a careful study of the capacity and capability of both work­ers and machines. While Scientific Management seeks to achieve maximum efficiency per worker and per machine, it is not in favor of forcing workers or the machines to work beyond capacity. No worker or machine can overwork for a long time. Sooner or later, this will cause an adverse effect on efficiency.

Standard Quality:

Prescribing standards in respect of form, design, size, weight, quality, durability, etc. of the product to be manufactured will help in achieving efficiency and economy in production. It will also highlight deviation in actual performance from the standards and show what corrective steps are necessary.

Standard Working Conditions:

Working conditions denote the physical conditions in a workshop such as working space, ventilation, lighting, temperature, humidity, etc.

Under ideal working conditions, fitted with proper lighting and temperature-control equipment, both workers and machines will work to their maximum capacity. Clumsy layout and inadequate space for movement of men and material will adversely affect efficiency and productivity of workers.

Lack of proper cooling system may lead to machinery breakdown and absence of required humid­ity level will cause frequent thread-snapping in textile factory.

Technique # 5. Mental Revolution:

Main Problem is Sharing of the Surplus:

Taylor says the problems between management and labor largely centered on division of the surplus. He thought the best way to resolve this problem was for both parties to work to increase the size of the surplus, rather than fighting over what part of the surplus each was entitled to.

Scientific, Rather than Rule-of-Thumb Approach:

The second phase of mental revolution required that scientific methods, rather than hit-or-miss, or rule-of-thumb, approach be the basis for determining the proper procedure for performance of any task and standard output per worker.

Overall, self-imposed discipline is essential for both workers and management.


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