The Role of Methods Engineering and Work Measurement in Controlling Work Task Variation

Every company is looking for opportunities to make their work activities more efficient and effective. Methods Engineering and Work Measurement let you identify all opportunities to make work go faster, simpler and more accurately.



Hello Mike,

I am a master student in civil engineering at a European university. One of my courses about operational research treats methods engineering and work measurement. As we study all methods and procedures of efficiency improvements, we also want to investigate the pratice in reality.

Which kind of companies apply which kind of strategies? Which charts are mostly used to discover inefficient points and develop improvements? Which elements are considered to be more or less relevant than others? And so on…

To have a ‘global’ idea of the practical use of work studies, I must search different companies in different sectors, and examine their used methods and measurements. Are you able to send me some fact sheets of companies (preferably international ‘known’ companies) so I can derive which methods are mostly used for which kind of sectors? Or do you have an analystic overview of different companies? Do you have a certain ‘base-treatment’ for different kinds of industries?

Your information should be very usefull for me, and our investigation team of the University. Of course this information won’t be used for profit goals, publicities, or any other issue. It is nothing but an investigation assignment in name of the University.



Dear Talis,

What a fascinating subject it is that you are studying. Methods engineering and work measurement is a topic that I have read about extensively. It is a highly valuable technique to use in industry. In response to your request, there is some guidance I can offer you from real workplace situations.

You should look closely at manufacturers that use the Lean Manufacturing practice of Single Minute Exchange of Dies (SMED). It is all about the least time wasteful way to do a task.

You can also look at Formula 1 racing car pit crew practises, as their work must be accurate and fast and they have designed pit stop activities that are world class machinery maintenance methods.

Another Lean technique used by manufacturers that might be useful to you is Value Stream Mapping. Usually it is used at work process level to measure variation in selected variables and parameters associated with the process, but it can be applied on work tasks as a technique to investigate work time variation and time losses from wasteful actions. You would have to adapt the technique to measure the variation in task times and the time losses/wastes in doing each work task activity. Once you know where the variations and losses are excessive you can use methods engineering and work measurement to control the variation standard deviation.

One interesting event that I saw recently was a manufacturing company that introduced job time measurement software and got all employees to book the times taken in doing their work. There was massive difference across employees doing the same job. Some of it was due to laziness and ignorance. Methods engineering and work measurement could be applied to redesign the work flow and develop standardised work tasks for all employees to use. It might be of value to you to investigate how companies that use job time tracking can then use methods engineering and work measurement to optimise individual tasks.

Another vital area for research is how methods engineering and work measurement solutions can be imbedded into a company’s work quality control practices so that all work activities are performed more efficiently and effectively. This is an area of industrial engineering where the Accuracy Controlled Enterprise 3T (Target-Tolerance-Test) work quality control method provides powerful solutions.

Finally, a warning. All that you do with methods engineering and work measurement to improve work flow can be sabotaged by the worker. Unless you engage the worker in the research, and subsequent workplace change process, you will one day wonder why the theory mysteriously does not work in practise.


My best regards to you,

Mike Sondalini
Managing Director
Lifetime Reliability Solutions HQ


PS. If you require advice on work quality control or work management system development, feel free to contact me by email at