Methods-Time Measurement – When TIME is of the essence



Methods-Time Measurement (MTM) systems are predetermined motion time systems that are used primarily in the manufacturing industries to analyze the methods used to perform any manual operation or task and, as a product of that analysis, set the standard time in which a worker should complete that task. The MTM process languages are the internationally recognized method standards for the description, evaluation and design of human work.

The MTM-1 method was developed in the USA and first released in 1948. Since then, MTM systems for batch manufacturing, the logistics sector and administration  have been developed. MTM is a Work Measurement system which does not make use of a Stop Watch or Time Study (Time and Motion) and also negates the need for Pace Rating. When used on its own, or with Lean or Six Sigma it is a powerful System for Process Design, Tooling Design and Layout Design.

With MTM, companies have the ability to determine process times, products and personnel requirements, significantly increase productivity in the company and at the same time contribute to occupational health. 

The following illustration shows all MTM systems relative to process type, method level and application:

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How to Create an MTM-1 Analysis (Methods-Time Measurement)

Below is a summary of each MTM system. Expand each section for an overview.

Select MTM TRAINING for information regarding course details.

MTM-1 is the basic building block from which all other MTM systems have been developed. This timeless system, which is used worldwide, determines the time necessary for performing a given operation by analyzing the manual motions required and assigning a time value to each. MTM-1 is ideally suited to use in mass production environments with permanent short-cycle repetitions.

The predetermined data values for each “motion” is further sub-classified according to the parameters that effect the time required for the average operator to perform it. Each of these motions has a unique code and time value ranging from 2.0 TMU (Time-Measurement Unit) up to the maximum value of 53.4 TMU. 28 TMU’s in one second.

The 17 Basic MTM-1 Motions:

Apply Pressure

Eye Focus
Eye Travel

Foot Motion
Leg Motion
Side- Step
Turn Body
Bend, Stoop and Kneel
Sit and Stand

In total there are more than 1,600 unique MTM-1 values.

MTM-HWD is a movement model derived from human beings. Both the individual movements of the body, head and hand-arm system and the body posture during and at the end of a cycle can be described and evaluated chronologically. MTM-HWD® captures significantly more influencing factors than previous biomechanical and temporal evaluation methods. Thus, the description of human work gains immensely in quality.
MTM-HWD is at the system hierarchy level of movement sequences with regard to process type (between MTM-1 and MTM-SD). However, MTM-HWD delivers four results with only one analysis: Process description, time, productivity and ergonomics. It is the only system that simultaneously combines work design and ergonomic assessment.

No data card or pre-printed description form
Few application rules (partly automated)
In focus: process type large-scale production
Assessment of physical stress by means of EAWS (Ergonomic Assessment Worksheet)
Ideal for design optimization (time and ergonomics)

MTM-SD can be used for long-cyclic operations (cycle time greater than 0.5 minutes), performed by workers with a comparatively high routine level and low variance in the individual operator methods. Under these conditions the application of MTM-SD is more efficient than using MTM-1.

MTM-SD is a 2nd level GET/PLACE system and is twice as fast to apply as MTM-1 and does not require two handed method analysis. The application of MTM-SD is related to process type 2 (large batch production). According to the features to characterize the process types there is a smooth transition between process types 1 and 2 in practice.

MTM-SD can be found in all phases along the value chain in applications for structuring, planning, design, time evaluation, balancing and improvement including tasks relevant for time management, such as preliminary costing, human resource planning, data for wage and salary systems.

Creation of company-specific building blocks using MTM-SD (Basic Data) is suitable for workplace design as they are based on MTM-1 basic motions. This leads to rather small building blocks that still give detailed information on the work method.


MTM-2 is a very simplified form of PMTS, derived exclusively from MTM-1. It is referred to as a second-generation system.

The system was designed and developed largely by the efforts of the UK, USA and Swedish National MTM associations and was approved by the International Methods-Time Measurement Directorate in 1965.

The system is exceptionally descriptive of human motion analysis. Although MTM-2 is not as detailed as MTM-1, it permits the analysis of work into unique micro time elements. Officially defined as being sufficiently accurate for evaluating work cycles in of 0.8 minutes (1,600 TMU) experience has shown that the system has been applied successfully for operations as short as 0.2 minutes.

It’s relative simplicity was achieved by statistically combining, averaging and substituting the basic motions that form the MTM-1 system in order to arrive at much fewer application codes and time values. MTM-2 has 39 unique codes, whereas MTM-1 has more than 1,600 codes, each with specific time values.

The 9 Basic MTM-2 Motions:

Get and Get Weight – 16 TMU values
Put and Put Weight – 16 TMU values
Apply Pressure*
Eye Action*
Foot Motion
Bend and Arise*

* Note – One single TMU value for these motions

Research has shown that a skilled MTM Analyst will require between 100 and 150 minutes to complete a detailed MTM-2 analysis of a work cycle of one minute’s duration. Therefore the speed of application is approximately two to three times faster than MTM-1.

MTM-UAS is known as a 3rd level MTM system and was developed between 1976 and 1978 by a consortium of the German, Swiss and Austrian MTM Associations.

The system was specifically developed for batch production where speed of analysis has priority over methods and operational detail.
The data was developed having following objectives in mind:
High analysis speed
Reproducibility of working methods
Sufficient accuracy for standard operations
Universal application

The system requires the following production characteristics:
Similarity of tasks
Standard work places
Good organisation of the work
Availability of good detailed work specifications
Qualified workers, trained and motivated

The data was derived from MTM-1 analyses from films of typical batch production operations.

MTM-UAS (Basic Operations) consists of seven activities:
Get and Place
Handle Tool
Motion Cycles
Body Motions
Visual Controls

Additional second-level standard data in MTM-UAS cover activities such as fastening, marking, packing and assembling.
The data Card shows a total of 77 unique codes, which values range from 5 to 160 TMU (0.15 to 4.8 secs). The analyst time required to apply MTM-UAS is about 30 times the task cycle time.

The accuracy of MTM-UAS compared to MTM-1 has never been officially defined, but generally it is claimed that MTM-UAS is not suitable for cycle times of less than 1 minute (1,667 TMU).

In the Shipping and Receiving departments lie the first and last steps in delivering a product to market. Understanding the complexity and work load in these vital areas is another key piece of information.

MTM-Logistics is the best and easiest method to record, standardize and optimize company logistic processes. It is a high-level MTM system derived from MTM-UAS and designed specifically for the rapid analysis of manual motions in the logistics sector.

MTM-Logistics covers a comprehensive set of building blocks for the following operations:
Open and closing packing
Forklift trucks
Electric tow tractor
Hand pallet truck
Transport trolleys
Crane Data

MTM-MEK is based on statistical analysis of MTM-1 data, designed for economical measurement of small lot or one-of-a-kind unit production with long cycle times. MTM-MEK is also ideal for other infrequently performed tasks that were once considered too costly or difficult to measure, as it has a high capacity for work manner diversity.

The application conditions can be described through the following aspects:
Order-oriented production of products with little or no repetition
Large number of product types and variations
Long-cycle or non-cyclic work processes
Constant changes in the work processes and conditions
Relatively low degree of routine
Limited possibilities for detailed work instructions with the associated result of increased variation in the work method

Typical application areas exist in companies involved in machine and steel construction, plant construction, aircraft construction, as well as, in the areas of maintenance and repair, logistics, set-up and change-over work.

When selecting appropriate methods and practices for structuring an organization and implementing efficiency programs, the particular characteristics of the various activities in the following sectors need to be considered:
Industrial administration
Health care
Financial service providers
Trade and service
Public service sector

These activities occur mainly in offices and can therefore be generally termed “office sector.” New information and communication technologies are increasingly facilitating tasks in this sector. However, an office equipped with data processing technology does not guarantee a successful business, as modern technology cannot automatically improve an inefficient organization.

MTM-OS is a functional system used for work measurement applications of administration and services work activity including typing or keypunching, filing, reading and writing. It was developed by the German MTM Association with its sister Associations in Switzerland and Austria. MTM-OS can help you understand the work load in your office.

MTM Visual Inspection is a building block system for planning, designing, and assessing times for those visual inspection activities, which depend on human judgment and decision-making. The time required for such activities is the result of a high degree of complex mental processes, thus they cannot be reliably analyzed with the common techniques of time calculation.

The latest findings of numerous research projects in industrial science and medicine have been taken into account in developing the building blocks. MTM Visual Inspection also facilitates the proper selection of optic aids such as magnifying glasses, microscopes and monitors, as well as, the design and assessment of visual inspection activities using these aids.

Typical application areas exist in companies with a significant degree of visual inspection activities such as the visual inspection of:
Soldered joints or conductor paths on circuit boards
Coated surfaces
Molded parts for completeness and surface quality
Dials and markings on visual devices
Parts transported on conveyor belts (e.g. bottles, tiles)

EAWS is a first level risk assessment tool for biomechanical load developed by an international team of experts. The method supports its users in the assessment of physical strain in conducting risk analyses and the assessment of measures to improve the ergonomics – from planning and design to on-going improvement.
It offers compliance with the relevant CEN/ISO standards and is structured to exploit the information available in the MTM analysis to support cycle description and risk evaluation. It is a holistic system (covering all risk areas) and it provides detailed results in four sections:
Body Postures
Action Forces
Manual Materials Handling
Upper Limbs

The purpose of EAWS is to analyze and prevent the risk factors that may lead to overloading the operator and eventually, occupational diseases. As always, the final goal is the redesign of the work system so that any risk can be minimized and the performance eased.

MTM Systems, MTM Productivity Services Corporation, methods-time measurement, work study, time study, standards, manufacture, logistics, ISO, CEN, Ergonomics, MTM Association, labor, MTM-1, MTM-UAS, MTM-LOG, EAWS, Certification, Instructor, United States, Canada, English, One-MTM Network