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:
- Open cardboard sleeve
- Reach for gingerbread
- Slide gingerbread into sleeve
- 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.
- See a video walkthrough of the gingerbread packaging task
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
- If recording a task with a video camera:
- Select a sports setting or increase the shutter speed to capture the posture of quick hand movements more clearly.
- Try to record the worker's whole upper body and arms together and from several different viewpoints, and check that you have recorded images that will help you to assess the posture of the head, neck, back and arms.
- Then focus the camera onto the worker's hands and wrists at the moments when they handle or manipulate items.
- Record the posture of more than one worker, where several people do the same task.
- Spend enough time recording the video to ensure that what you record represents normal practices.