Time Study

What is it?

Time study is a tried and tested method of work measurement for setting basic times and hence standard times for carrying out specified work. Its roots are back to the period between the two World Wars.

The aim of time study is to establish a time for a qualified worker to perform specified work under stated conditions and at a defined rate of working.

This is achieved by a qualified practitioner observing the work, recording what is done and then timing (using a time measuring device) and simultaneously rating (assessing) the pace of working.

The requirements for taking a time study are quite strict.


There are two main essentials for establishing a basic time for specified work i.e. rating and timing.

Some terminology explained


The observer records the actual time taken to do the element or operation. This usually is in centiminutes (0.01 min.) and is recorded, using a stop-watch or computerized study board.


When someone is doing work his/her way of working will vary throughout the working period and will be different from others doing the same work. This is due to differing speeds of movement, effort, dexterity and consistency. Thus, the time taken for one person to do the work may not be the same as that for others and may or may not be 'reasonable' anyway. The purpose of rating is to adjust the actual time to a standardized basic time that is appropriate and at a defined level of performance. Rating is on a scale with 100 as its standard rating. (Managers-net Website topic Rating).


A complete job usually will be too long and variable to time and rate in one go, so it would be analysed into several smaller parts (elements) which, separately, will each be timed and rated.

Basic time

This is the standardised time for carrying out an element of work at standard rating.

Example: An observer times an element as 30 centiminutes (cm) and because it is performed more slowly than the standard 100, he rates it as 95. Thus the basic time is 95% of 30 or 28.5 basic cm. The formula is: (actual time x rating)/100.


Extra time is allowed for various conditions which obtain, the main ones being relaxation allowance for:

  1. recovery from the effort of carrying out specified work under specified conditions (fatigue allowance)
  2. attention to personal needs
  3. adverse environmental conditions,
  4. others concerned with machine operations

The basic time is the time for a complete cycle to be performed but as not all elements are repeated in every cycle their times per average cycle must be pro rata. In the example which follows, element 2 only occurs once every eight cycles so its basic time is one eighth of the element time, per cycle. Similar treatment for element 7 (one twelfth).

Standard time:

Basic time + allowances

An example of a time study - extracts from the two main documents in time study follow:

Time study observation sheet
Department: Main Stores Section: Goods Inwards
Astudy ends:10.35 am
Bstudy starts:10.03 am
Cstudy time:32 min.
Dcheck times:1.68 min.
Etotal study time:33.68 min.
Felapsed time:34 min.
Gdifference F-E0.32 min.
Htiming error: G/F%0.9%
Section head: E. Thompson

Analyst J.Allen Date: 12 July
Operation:Raise and process Goods Received Note
Element numberElement Descriptionratingobserved time (cm) basic time (cm)
1 Look out relevant Purchase Demand (PD) 90 30 27.0
2 Obtain pad of Goods Received notes (GR) 80 95 76.0
3 Make out GR note 80 45 36.0
4 Pin green copy to PD and place in internal post bin 90 10 9.0
5 File white copy 75 22 16.5
6 Pin other 3 copies to goods and place goods on pallet 80 17 13.6
1repeat 803326.4
(etc.)(etc. etc.)
(etc. etc..)

Time study analysis sheet
Department: Main Stores Section: Goods Inwards
Section head: E. Thompson Date: 12 July
Operation:Raise and process Goods Received NoteAnalyst J.Allen
El.Element Description basic times (b.min)RA% std.mins.
basic t. frequency b.t. x freq.
1 Look out relevant Purchase Demand (PD) 29 1/1 0.290 100.319
2 Obtain pad of Goods Received notes (GR) 75 1/8 0.094 100.103
3 Make out GR note 38 1/1 0.380 100.418
4 Pin green copy to PD and place in internal post bin 9 1/1 0.090 100.099
5 File white copy 15 1/1 0.150 100.165
6 Pin other 3 copies to goods and place goods on pallet 17 1/1 0.170 150.196
7Move pallet to stores 961/120.080 180.094
total sm =1.394
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