Business Studies Part I
Business Studies Part II

Techniques of Scientific Management

Functional Foremanship

In the factory system, the foreman represents the managerial figure with whom the workers are in face-to-face contact on a daily basis. In the first chapter of the book, you have seen that the foreman is the lowest ranking manager and the highest ranking worker. He is the pivot around whom revolves the entire production planning, implementation and control. Thus, Taylor concentrated on improving the performance of this role in the factory set-up. In fact, he identified a list of qualities of a good foreman/supervisor and found that no single person could fit them all. This prompted him to suggest functional foremanship through eight persons.

Taylor advocated separation of planning and execution functions. This concept was extended to the lowest level of the shop floor. It was known as functional foremanship. Under the factory manager there was a planning incharge and a production incharge. Under planning incharge four personnel namely instruction card clerk, route clerk, time and cost clerk and a disciplinarian worked. These four personnel would draft instructions for the workers, specify the route of production, prepare time and cost sheet and ensure discipline respectively.

Under Production incharge, personnel who would work were speed boss, gang boss, repair boss, and inspector. These respectively were responsible for timely and accurate completion of job, keeping machines and tools etc., ready for operation by workers, ensure proper working condition of machines and tools and check the quality of work.

Functional foremanship is an extension of the principle of division of work and specialisation to the shop floor. Each worker will have to take orders from these eight foremen in the related process or function of production. Foremen should have intelligence, education, tact, grit, judgment, special knowledge, manual dexterity, and energy, honesty and good health. Since all these qualities could not be found in a single person so Taylor proposed eight specialists. Each specialist is to be assigned work according to her/his qualities. For example, those with technical mastery, intelligence and grit may be given planning work. Those with energy and good health may be assigned execution work.

Taylor was an ardent supporter of standardisation. According to him scientific method should be used to analyse methods of production prevalent under the rule of thumb. The best practices can be kept and further refined to develop a standard which should be followed throughout the organisation. This can be done through work-study techniques which include time study, motion study, fatigue study and method study, and which are discussed further in this chapter. It may be pointed out that even the contemporary techniques of business process including reengineering, kaizen (continuous improvement) and benchmarking are aimed at standardising the work.

Standardisation refers to the process of setting standards for every business activity; it can be standardisation of process, raw material, time, product, machinery, methods or working conditions. These standards are the benchmarks, which must be adhered to during production. The objectives of standardisation are:

  • To reduce a given line or product to fixed types, sizes and characteristics.
  • To establish interchange ability of manufactured parts and products.
  • To establish standards of exce-llence and quality in materials.
  • To establish standards of perfor-mance of men and machines.

Simplification aims at eliminating superfluous varieties, sizes and dimensions while standardisation implies devising new varieties instead of the existing ones. Simplification aims at eliminating unnecessary diversity of products. It results in savings of cost of labour, machines and tools. It implies reduced inventories, fuller utilisation of equipment and increasing turnover.

Most large companies like Nokia, Toyota and Microsoft etc. have successfully implemented standardisation and simplification. This is evident from their large share in their respective markets.

METHOD STUDY

The objective of method study is to find out one best way of doing the job. There are various methods of doing the job. To determine the best way there are several parameters. Right from procurement of raw materials till the final product is delivered to the customer every activity is part of method study. Taylor devised the concept of assembly line by using method study. Ford Motor Company used this concept very successfully. Even now auto companies are using it.

The objective of the whole exercise is to minimise the cost of production and maximise the quality and satisfaction of the customer. For this purpose many techniques like process charts and operations research etc are used.

For designing a car, the assembly line production would entail deciding the sequence of operations, place for men, machines and raw materials etc. All this is part of method study.

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. Unnecessary movements are sought to be eliminated so that it takes less time to complete the job efficiently. For example, Taylor and his associate Frank Gailberth were able to reduce motions in brick layering from 18 to just 5. Taylor demonstrated that productivity increased to about four times by this process.

On close examination of body motions, for example, it is possible to find out:

  • Motions which are productive
  • Motions which are incidental (e.g., going to stores)
  • Motions which are unproductive.

Taylor used stopwatches and various symbols and colours to identify different motions. Through motion studies, Taylor was able to design suitable equipment and tools to educate workers on their use. The results achieved by him were truly remarkable.

TIME STUDY

It determines the standard time taken to perform a well-defined job. Time measuring devices are used for each element of task. The standard time is fixed for the whole of the task by taking several readings. The method of time study will depend upon 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.

For example, on the basis of several observations it is determined that standard time taken by the worker to make one cardboard box is 20 minutes. So in one hour she/he will make 3 boxes. Assuming that a worker has to put in 8 hours of work in a shift and deducting one hour for rest and lunch, it is determined that in 7 hours a worker makes 21 boxes @ 3 boxes per hour. Now this is the standard task a worker has to do. Wages can be decided accordingly.

FATIGUE STUDY

A person is bound to feel tired physically and mentally if she/he does not rest while working. The rest intervals will help one to regain stamina and work again with the same capacity. This will result in increased productivity. Fatigue study seeks to determine the amount and frequency of rest intervals in completing a task. For example, normally in a plant, work takes place in three shifts of eight hours each. Even in a single shift a worker has to be given some rest interval to take her/his lunch etc. If the work involves heavy manual labour then small pauses have to be frequently given to the worker so that she/he can recharge her/his energy level for optimum contribution.

    There can be many causes for fatigue like long working hours, doing unsuitable work, having uncordial relations with the boss or bad working conditions etc. Such hindrances in good performance should be removed.

DIFFERENTIAL PIECE WAGE SYSTEM

Taylor was a strong advocate of piece wage system. He wanted to differentiate between efficient and inefficient workers. The standard time and other parameters should be determined on the basis of the workstudy discussed above. The workers can then be classified as efficient or inefficient on the basis of these standards. He wanted to reward efficient workers. So he introduced different rate of wage payment for those who performed above standard and for those who performed below standard. For example, it is determined that standard output per worker per day is 10 units and those who made standard or more than standard will get Rs. 50 per unit and those below will get Rs. 40 per unit. Now an efficient worker making 11 whereas a worker who makes 9 units

According to Taylor, the difference of Rs. 190 should be enough for the inefficient worker to be motivated to perform better. From his own experience, Taylor gives the example of a worker named Schmidt who was able to earn 60% more wages 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 box cars at Bethlehem Steel works by following scientific management techniques.

It is important to have a relook at the techniques of scientific management as comprising a unified whole of Taylor’s prescription of efficiency. Search for efficiency requires the search for one best method and the chosen method must lead to the determination of a fair day’s work. There must be a compensation system that differentiates those who are able to accomplish/exceed the fair day’s work. This differential system must be based on the premise that efficiency is the result of the joint efforts of the managers and the workers. Thus, rather than quarrelling over the share in the resultant surplus, the workers and managers should work in harmony for maximising the output rather than restricting it. Clearly the sum and substance of Taylor’s ideas lies not in the disjointed description of principles and techniques of scientific management, but in the change of the mindset, which he referred to as mental revolution. Mental revolution involves a change in the attitude of workers and management towards one another from competition to cooperation. Both should realise that they require one another. Both should aim to increase the size of surplus. This would eliminate the need for any agitation. Management should share a part of surplus with workers. Workers should also contribute their might so that the company makes profits. This attitude will be good for both of them and also for the company. In the long run only worker’s well-being will ensure prosperity of the business.

Now, having studied the elements, principles and techniques of scientific management we can consider the practical applications of the same at the time of F.W. Taylor and in the present.

We can also examine the present status of scientific management. Today, many new techniques have been developed as a sequel to scientific management. Operations research was developed in the second World War to optimise the deployment of war material. Similarly assembly line was also discovered by F.W. Taylor, which was used very successfully by Ford motor company for manufacturing ‘Model T’ car for the masses. This concept is much used now. The latest development in scientific management is ‘LEAN MANUFACTURING’. Now a days robotics and computers are being used in production and other business activities. This is part of scientific management of these activities. It has increased productivity levels. The techniques of operation research have also been developed and are being used as a result of scientific management.

The various work study techniques that help in developing standards to be followed throughout the organization are described below:

  1. Time study: It seeks to determine the standard time taken to perform a well-defined job. The objective of time study is to determine the number of workers to be employed, frame suitable incentive schemes and determine labour costs. By using time measuring devices for each element of task, the standard time is fixed for the whole of the task by taking several readings.
  2. Motion study: Motion study refers to the study of movements of limbs of a worker while doing a particular task. It seek to divide all such movements into three categories namely;
    • Motions which are required
    • Motions which are unnecessary
    • Motions which are incidental.
      Thus, motion study helps to eliminate unnecessary movements of a work and enables him to complete the given task efficiently.
  3. Method study:The objective of method study is to find out one best way of doing the job among the various methods available of doing the job. This can be done by taking into consideration several related parameters.
  4. Fatigue study: It seeks to determine the amount and frequency of rest intervals that should be provided to the workers for completing a task. This technique helps in increasing productivity as the rest intervals will help a person to regain stamina and work again with the same capacity.

Differential Piece Wage System is the incentive bonus plan that Anshul may implement so as differentiate between efficient and inefficient workers.
Differential Piece Wage System is a performance based wage system which was introduced by Taylor so as to distinguish between the workers who were able to achieve the standard or performed above standard from those who performed below standard. For example, it is determined that standard output per worker per day is 10 units and those who made standard or more than standard will get Rs. 40 per unit and those below will get Rs. 30 per unit. Now an efficient worker making 11 units will get 11 x 40 = Rs. 440 per day whereas a worker who makes 9 units will get 9 x 30 = Rs. 270 per day. According to Taylor, the difference of Rs. 170 should be enough for the inefficient worker to be motivated to perform better.