PURPOSE AND JUSTIFICATION OF ENGINEERED LABOR STANDARDS
LXLI International Ltd. Caledon, Ontario We can see and feel the waste of material things.Awkward, inefficient, or ill-directed movements of men, however, leave nothing visible or tangible behind them. Frederick Winslow Taylor Engineered laborstandards are a cornerstone of industrial engineering. Through the years, many books and articles have been written on the application of the many techniques that make up the science of work measurement, though very few have actually discussed in detail the benefits of engineered labor standards. Over the years, work measurement has lost some of its popularity, mostly because the industrial engineeringcommunity has failed to outline the overall benefits associated with a well-tailored work measurement program. This chapter will discuss the purpose of engineered labor standards, justify their implementation, and outline why work measurement is so crucial to the business decision process and how it becomes impossible to optimize any operation without it. The notion of engineered labor standardsas an old approach developed at the beginning of the twentieth century to make people work harder will be debunked. The global benefits of implementing engineered labor standards will be revealed, and in the end, the reader will discover that work measurement is a complex information system that provides timely and accurate measurement of the work content of a task, process, andoperation—information that is crucial to so many day-to-day managerial tasks.
Germane to this discussion are Frederick Taylor’s thoughts at the beginning of the twentieth century as he was laying the foundations of scientific management, the precursor to industrial engineering. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, industrial engineers around the world are working hard to reduce operatingcosts and optimize processes.The industrial engineering profession has seen many changes during the last hundred years, but one fact still remains the same: identifying and eliminating wasted time without the proper tools remains at best an elusive process. Looking back at the early days of industrial engineering, we recognize a group of exceptional individuals—Frederick Taylor, Frank and LillianGilbreth, Henry Gantt, and others—who dedicated a good part of their lives to a quest to develop better and more efficient companies. These individuals fought hard to defend what they believed was the road to greater prosperity for both employers and employees. Along the way they invented, refined, and tailored fundamental tools needed to wage the ongoing battle toward better efficiency.Workmeasurement is considered one of their finest achievements, which may explain why many consider it the forerunner of industrial engineering. These pillars of our profession have left us a legacy that should be preserved and enhanced to benefit society as a whole. Most industrial engineers dedicate the early part of their careers to learning the basic requirements of their future profession.They typicallyspend three to five years in universities or colleges cultivating the core knowledge of industrial engineering.Their diplomas attest that they have been exposed to a wide array of complex tools. Unfortunately, over the years universities have modified their vision of what the content of our toolbox should be.The industrial engineering community’s minimal reaction to these modifications of thecurriculum have been leading work measurement and other important basic tools down the path to eradication. Very few recent graduates can recognize and explain the benefits of engineered labor standards. An even smaller number would be able to prescribe engineered labor standards solid enough to withstand the most basic of union audits. Some very serious questions arise: Can this new breed of...