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Observation

When observing a repetitive task, it helps to break the task down and look at its task elements (i.e. the sequence of actions that are repeated over and over again). For example, a repetitive task packaging gingerbread may involve the following task elements:

  1. Open cardboard sleeve
  2. Reach for gingerbread
  3. Slide gingerbread into sleeve
  4. Place product across table

The task elements, performed in sequence, make up the task cycle. The cycle time is the amount of time that it takes to perform the task cycle.

In this case, the cycle time is between 1 – 2 seconds. It is fairly clear where the task cycle ends and the next cycle begins and each task cycle is fairly similar to the previous cycle. Sometimes task cycles are not always clear-cut. The task cycle may vary, along with the cycle time. In such cases, try to identify task elements that involve a similar pattern of motion and are repeated over and over again.

Using a video camera

Updated: 2011-10-08