Frank and Lillian Gilbreth were two of the great pioneers in the study of scientific management.
Two of there major writings were on Fatigue Study and Motion Study. Business scholars use many of their writings, today. Many of their results affect the work conditions in many companies. Brilliant Minds of Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Frank Gilbreth was born on July 7, 1868, in Fairfield, Maine. Lillian Gilbreth was born on June 24, 1924, in Montclair, New Jersey. The Gilbreths’ are considered two of the greatest American scholars in the field of scientific management. Many professional business managers use many of their writings. Many of their writings include The Psychology of Management, Fatigue Study, Motion Study for the Handicapped, Applied Motion Study, Motion Study, Primer of Scientific Management, Bricklaying System, and Concrete System.
One of the great literary writings by the Gilbreths was the study of motion. Motion study is a means to permanent and practical waste elimination (Gilbreth, 1917). This work aims to describe the work areas that motion study can be or is being applied and different methods to apply to the study.
Finally, the result of the study. Motion study was mainly used in American Industry. The goal of this study was to eliminate unnecessary effort used in the industry to as low as possible. The improvement of a job task while increasing productivity was the result. The American industrial sector was used because it was expanding during this time and America needed to improve industrial techniques to remain competitive against other countries. Motion study analyzed every detail in the operation to perform a particular task and determined the method which used the least amount of energy. An example of this research is the assembly of the piece used in the production of the braider manufactured by the New England Butt Company (Gilberth 1917). After analysis using a motion study, there was a three hundred and fifty percent increase in production with no increase in worker fatigue (Gilbreth 1917). The analysis consisted of what is the unit of measure, the different methods used, and devices needed. All three are needed to be incorporated to obtain a result.
The use of chronocyclegraph motion devices was another method used in motion study. Chronocyclegraph devices were used in the study to formulate a precise scientific conclusion to an investigation. Clocks, temperature, and location devices were used during the study. This was necessary to get the accurate time of day, temperature, and place a study was performed. The information can be a reference in the future or the present by scientists and scholars to compare other scientific results from motion study. The third type used to reach a conclusion in motion study was a motion model. Motion models were used mainly in the educational sector (Spriegel 1953). It dealt with the different methods of teaching by an individual. The synopsis of the study was that different methods are used to perform the task than what is taught by the teacher. In one example, the teacher taught a person who was unfamiliar with a subject a very thorough explanation on how to accomplish the task, which was very time consuming (Gilbreth 1917). On the other hand, when actually performing the task the instructor used shortcuts that reduced the amount of time to perform the task (Gilbreth 1917).
Another of the Gilbreths works was a study of fatigue in the workplace.
Fatigue is the weariness from labor or exertion (Webster 1994). This was designed to first, to determine what types of occupation causes different kinds of fatigue. Second, to assess how unnecessary fatigue can be eliminated. Third, to reduce the amount of fatigue in the workplace as low as possible. Fourth, to determine different methods to combat fatigue. Fifth, to put the information gathered by the study in a form that the average worker can understand. The two types of fatigue are necessary and unnecessary. Unnecessary fatigue is caused by work that uses more energy to accomplish a task than is needed or performing a job that should not be performed to reach a goal (Myers 1953). A good example of wasted energy is the work of the bricklayer. The method for centuries was for the bricklayer to raise his body, the mortar, and the bricks from the ground to the top of the building (Gilbreth 1916). This type of work used a large amount of unnecessary energy. Necessary fatigue is caused by the accomplishment of any task. For example, there might be an improvement to a work method, which resulted in an increase in productivity by fifty percent. Even though more work was accomplished in the same amount of time it did not or can be expected to eliminate all fatigue. One of the most effective ways to reduce fatigue is to improve the work environment of an employee. The employer needs to ensure a worker has enough time to rest and spend time with the family at the end of the day. One of the ways to ensure an employee is not exhausted is to provide a lunch period and at least one day a week off from work. Another method is to ensure the proper equipment is used to perform a task. The Gilbreths did a study, in which, they provided a reclining chair to all workers in a company. After one week of using the company increase productivity with less worker fatigue (Spriegel 1953).
Proper lighting in the workplace is another way to reduce fatigue. If a workplace has too much or not enough lighting the workers will fatigue at a greater rate because it will cause constant adjustment and re-adjustment of the eyes.
Improvement of working conditions is essential to increasing worker productivity. The Gilbreths dedicated their lives to inventing methods to reduce worker fatigue and waste of unnecessary energy. Many of their ideas are incorporated into many laws passed by the government during the 1930s and 1940s. Failure of businesses to follow the principles of the Gilbreths could result in lower worker productivity and morale. An important ingredient in a company’s profitability is a good relationship with management and the employee.
- Gilbreth, F., Gilbreth L. (1916). Fatigue Study. New York: Sturgis; Walton Co.
- Gilbreth, F.; Gilbreth L. (1911). Motion Study. New York: D. Van Nostrand Co.
- Merriam-Websters School Dictionary (1994). Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Inc.
- Meyers, C. E., Spriegel W. R. (Eds.). (1953) The Writings of the Gilbreths. Homewood, Illinois: Richard D. Irwin, Inc.
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