What is a Predetermined Motion Time System?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2019
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The concept of a predetermined motion time system, or PMTS, has been around for several decades. Essentially, the system is a means of establishing current labor rates within an industry by evaluating the amount of time required to perform tasks associated with each job position. By quantifying the time necessary to complete the task properly and efficiently, it becomes possible to determine how many times in an hour the task can be performed along with other tasks relevant to the position and determine an equitable wage for the collection of job requirements.

One of the oldest examples of a predetermined motion time system is the Methods Time Measurement approach, which first appeared in 1948. This approach concerned itself with mainly manual tasks, such as work on an assembly line or running a set of carding frames in a textile plant. As such, the focus was on repetitive tasks that required a fair amount of dexterity. Over time, three different incarnations of the MTM method developed, with each method focusing on a different types of tasks, ranging from manual short duration processes to processes that took longer time to create and were not as manually focused.


Along with MTM, the Maynard Operation Sequence Technique (MOST) is a commonly employed PMRTS today. First introduced in 1972, the original MOST also focused heavily on short term manual tasks that were repetitive in nature. However, with the continuing expansion of industry so that many countries no longer used manufacturing as the basis for evaluating productivity, MOST also began to develop additional approaches that would help to quantify tasks that were less repetitive in nature. Today, there are several variations of MOST including BasicMOST, MiniMOST, MaxiMOST and AdminMOST.

While a predetermined motion time system is an attempt to measure time needed to perform a given task properly and efficiently, it is a different approach to the more simplistic time study. With a time study, the results are often based on observation, with a stopwatch used to monitor the time needed to successfully complete a task. A PMTS digs a little deeper by breaking the task down into steps and quantifying each step in the process. The quantified times for each step is added together to arrive at the total amount of time needed to perform the task.

One advantage of a predetermined motion time system lies in this attention to each step in a task. By evaluating each step in the process, it is possible to identify points where a step could be performed with more efficiently. For example, the use of a predetermined motion time system may indicate that a clerical employee would perform data entry more efficiently if the computer mouse were placed on the right hand of the work space rather than the left, saving a second or two per repetition. In this manner, overall productivity of the individual would be enhanced greatly over the course of the workday.


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