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Gilbreth Time and Motion Study in Bricklaying

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Uploaded on Aug 7, 2010

Frank Gilbreth (1868-1924) and his wife Lillian (1878-1972) created an entirely new method of time-and-motion study on how to improve industrial efficiency. Their groundbreaking studies examined how people, especially factory workers, performed tasks and found ways to eliminate wasted movement and increase efficiency.

The Gilbreths used film to help study and break down work habits. Their camera was an early 35-millimeter model made before 1910. It required hand cranking, and depending on light conditions and other factors was sometimes cranked slow and sometimes fast. In order to get an accurate timing, they placed a specially calibrated clock, called a micro-chronometer, in the frame.

Frank discovered his vocation back in 1885, the year he graduated from high school and started training in the world's second oldest profession -- bricklaying. On his second day, he noticed several different methods. He asked the Master Journeyman training him about it, and was told there were three techniques: one for a regular day, the second to hurry up to finish a wall, and the third to do just enough to stretch out the job to fill the day.

This got him thinking about the "one best way" to go about it. The traditional method, even after some 6,000 years, involved a lot of waisted motion. The most time-consuming, back breaking part of the job was stooping 125 time an hour for bricks... and 125 times for mortar.

Gilbreth was able to reduce the number of motions per brick from about 18 to 5. He designed a new, "non-stoop" scaffolding that raised both bricks and mortar to eliminate wasted motion. Using his method, bricklayers could lay more bricks, standing normally, were able to increase the number of bricks laid per hour from 125 to 350, and still go home at the end of the day not nearly so tired.

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