A discipline that is more in keeping with a human resources function, methods engineering specifically focuses on the integration of workers into a process. The fundamental aim of method engineering is to reduce the associated costs and optimize the reliability of a process through analyzing task performance. The role can also be referred to as corporate reengineering as it analyzes and instigates improvements to an established working practice. A high-level alternative to the in-depth analysis provided during a methods engineering process exists in the form of a time and motion study.
The role of a methods engineer is to establish where people are best utilized in a process to allow them to complete an allocated task in the most effective manner possible. There are five main stages that are utilized during a methods engineering procedure with a view to meeting its objectives more effectively. The stages need to be taken in order to ensure that the existing processes are fully analyzed prior to a new working practice being introduced.
In carrying out a methods engineering assessment, the five stages that need to be followed are project selection, data acquisition, analysis, development, and implementation. Project selection, the first stage in the procedure, is the point at which a methods engineer will be tasked with improving a process. In this stage, a project is identified that either requires an efficiency enhancement or is a new production process where reliability, accuracy, and efficiency are of particular importance.
Stages two and three of a methods engineering process are concerned with collating and analyzing data from the existing activity or production line. This data can include output records, detailed design drawings, and marketplace demand or performance records. Data that is collected during the second stage is analyzed in stage three to establish the optimum man-to-machine ratio and production line outputs. This third stage can also suggest improvements in regard to working conditions, production floor layout, and materials handling.
Developing the key improvements identified during the data analysis exercise is carried out in stage four. It is in this penultimate stage that man-to-machine ratios and the number of operators allocated to a machine — or number of machines to a single operator — are established and developed into a workable process. Once final improvements have been established, the economic benefit to the company must be detailed before being presented at management level. At this final point, the methods engineer must be confident in proving the benefits of the improved process to justify the outlay that will be required from the company to implement the new procedures.