Time Study is a scientific technique introduced by FW Taylor as a part of work study.

Time study is a structured process of directly observing and measuring human work using a timing device to establish the time required for completion of the work by a qualified worker when working at a defined level of performance.

Time study may be defined as “the art of observing and recording the time required to do each detailed element of an industrial activity/operation.”

The technique of time study involves determination of:

  • The standard time required to perform the job.
  • Setting up the target for workers.
  • Determining the number of workers required to perform a job.
  • Categorizing the workers in efficient and inefficient categories.

Taylor suggested that to set the standard time, the speed of an average worker should be observed for repeated times. Keeping the observed time in mind, the standard time should be set up.

Time study, when properly undertaken, involves the use of specific control mechanisms to ensure that timing errors are within acceptable limits. Increasingly, timing is by electronic devices rather than by mechanical stopwatch; some of these devices also assist in subsequent stages of the study by carrying out the process of “extending” or converting observed times into basic times. The basic time is the time the element would take if performed at a specified standard rating.

The number of cycles that should be observed depends on the variability in the work and the level of accuracy required. Since time study is essentially a sampling technique in which the value of the time required for the job is based on the observed times for a sample of observations, it is possible using statistical techniques to estimate the number of observations required under specific conditions. This total number of observations should be taken over a range of conditions where these are variable and, where possible, on a range of workers.

Once a basic time for each element has been determined, allowances are added (for example, to allow the worker to recovere from the physical and mental effects of carrying out the work) to derive a standard time.

Time study is a very flexible technique, suitable for a wide range of work performed under a wide range of conditions, although it is difficult to time jobs with very short cycle times (of a few seconds). Because it is a direct observation technique, it takes account of specific and special conditions but it does rely on the use of the subjective process of rating. However, if properly carried out it produces consistent results and it is widely used. Additionally, the use of electronic data capture devices and personal computers for analysis makes it much more cost effective than previously.


The following are the objectives of Time Study:

  • The main aim is to estimate the target time for each job scientifically.
  • The sound comparison of alternative methods can be made possible by comparing their basic times.
  • On the basis of the target times, the incentive plans can be formulated.
  • It leads to proper balancing of work distribution.
  • Time study helps in analyzing the activities for performing a job with a view to eliminate or reduce unnecessary or repetitive operations so that efforts of human can be minimized.
  • It aims at standardize the efficient method of performing operations.
  • It aims at standardize the conditions for efficient performance.
  • It aims at determining men and machines ratio for effective and efficient utilization of both.


The following are the advantages or applications of time study:

Time study helps to plan the future production as it is required for:

  • Estimation of equipment or machinery requirements.
  • Estimation of production cost per unit in order to determine/ fix selling price.
  • Estimating manpower requirements.
  • Taking make or buy decisions.
  • Balancing the work of operations constituting the group.
  • Estimating delivery dates.
  • Estimating times required for a specified inventory level generation.
  • Estimation of labor costs.
  • Making alternative investment decision in purchasing machines/ equipment.
  • Developing efficient plant layout and material handling arrangement.

Time standards help in evaluation of performance as in following cases:

  • The evaluation of productivity of various workstations.
  • The development of individual or group incentive schemes for above average performance.


The following are the limitations of Work Study:

  • Standards cannot be established by this technique on jobs which are not well defined.
  • Sometimes, it is difficult to define the quality standards precisely, in that case setting of incentive plans may leads to quality deterioration.
  • Where piece rate wage system exist, it is impossible to maintain standard time.
  • Time study is helpful for ‘doing’ jobs only not for ‘thinking’ jobs.
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