Summer is fading but the heat generated by the exchange of postings on IISE social media and Connect is continuing at a clip. ISE magazine readers are slowing down just long enough to share their thoughts on articles. We appreciate letters like the one below by Thomas S. Fiske as he comments on a June piece about time and motion studies. Are you connecting, reflecting and posting? Social messaging is even more robust and easier than ever for IISE members with IISE Connect:


When modernizing work measurement, don't forget the 'paper stopwatch' method
There is a problem with the article "Bringing time and motion studies up to speed" by Karen Craig (June's ISE magazine). On Page 34, Craig attempted to display a history of time and motion studies. In doing so, she has left out a significant method that came to be used in large numbers after World War II. It is the "paper stopwatch" method. Large companies used it in various forms and are still doing so, I am told. In fact, one of your advertisers promoted the method in your journal for years. I hope they are not insulted. They are providers of MTM.

Methods like MTM (methods-time measurement) and MTS (motion-time survey) have significant advantages over the stopwatch because they focus on the method an operator uses instead of the time it takes him or her to do a job. It also documents the method being used. This is handy because the industrial engineer often has to answer the question, "Who owns a new method?" when a change occurs and it is an improvement. Furthermore, paper stopwatches usually avoid the "flourishing stopwatch," which is often a red flag to an operator.

I taught a plant management course in college to graduate and undergraduate students and could hardly find a textbook in which the paper stopwatch was not explained in detail. So I am at a loss to explain how this advancement could be missing, except that the article seems to be focused on electronic gadgets.

If these are fair to the worker and the worker and his or her representatives have given permission for them to be used on the worker, then perhaps they are an improvement and we are better off.

Please note: One thing that is often overlooked about the "Hawthorne effect" is that it occurred during a national recession in which employees were afraid of losing their jobs. It probably is not typical of all periods of work measurement history.

Thomas S. Fiske
Fullerton, California

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