Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Do You Therblig?

Or, perhaps: I love red, ripe, juicy, therbligs!
Or, more to the point: take the ergh! out of ergonomics.
The fundamental motions of the hands of a worker. These operations are made up of 17 types of motion: search, select, grasp, reach, move, hold, release, position, pre-position, inspect, assemble, disassemble, use, unavoidable delay, avoidable delay, plan, and test to overcome fatigue. Frank Bunker Gilbreth defined these motions in his system of motion study. (Therblig is Gilbreth spelled backwards).
Time and motion study was a big deal a hundred years ago, or so. Seems there were two approaches. The Taylorites led by Frederick Taylor sought to make work more efficient, and thus increase productivity. Taylor was followed in the field by Frank and Lilian Gilbreth, whose methods were aimed at making work better, and thus faster. Both methods sought to reduce unit production costs. Taylor assumed the worker was working slowly for his own reasons. The Gilbreths examined the work to see if it could be arranged in a more efficient manner and assumed that the workers would be willing.
Both approaches worked. I find the Gilbreths, particularly Lillian's discoveries, more useful in my kitchen.
-- ml


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