Ask the Expert: Work Methods and Measurements

Macroscopic standards

Q: My company has products with thousands of SKU numbers, which makes figuring the cost of each SKU very difficult. If you have thousands of SKU numbers and about 50 different machines in the plant, what is the best way to figure out a cost for each SKU number since doing a time study is not feasible for thousands of products?

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Labor ratio

Q: What is the ideal direct-to-indirect labor ratio? How do you calculate it? I am assuming quality, maintenance, warehouse, and engineering staff as indirect labor.

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Measuring R&D

Q: My department primarily deals with work measurement and cost reduction for our food processing plants. Our area of expertise is the measurement of the short-cycled, highly repetitive jobs of the production lines.

I have been asked to provide assistance to our corporate laboratory and research services department in assessing their staffing levels. The labs are staffed with chemists and microbiologists who perform a wide variety of research and analytical testing. Are there any guidelines or assessment tools to evaluate laboratory staffing?

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Leaving early as a bonus

Q: Can you direct me to research on time-based incentives? In particular, what amount of "go home early" bonus should be expected in a time-based incentive system with fixed measured work loads where employees can leave as soon as they have completed their work? In other words, if employees are assigned 40 standard hours of work, will they complete the assigned work, on average, in 30, 32, 36, or 38 hours?

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