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The term may sound like a new computer term or some obscure part of the human anatomy, but Therbligs are actually the keys, which unlock the mystery of the way, we do work. In today's world of business, which requires longer and longer workdays of its employees, Therbligs might just be the method, which can shave hours from a workday. Therbligs comprise a system for analyzing the motions involved in performing a task.

The identification of individual motions, as well as moments of delay in the process, was designed to find unnecessary or inefficient motions and to utilize or eliminate even split-seconds of wasted time. Frank and Lillian Gilbreth invented and refined this system, roughly between and It is truly ironic that the most often requested Gilbreth material, was for a subject that was never covered in any of their books.

While the concept of the Therblig was born around , it was constantly being refined and tested, as a tool; a very powerful tool. In their writings from about through , the Gilbreths begin to talk about 15 to 16 "motion cycles", but rarely named them all and didn't allude to any comprehensive system. These sources have been used in this article, to provide an overview of the subject. Before proceeding, it should be made clear that Therbligs had no relationship to Time Study.

No matter what Taylor or his merry band of followers may have intimated, nor the later attempts of tying motion study to time study, as Frank Gilbreth put it: " Taylor never did any motion study of any kind whatever.

Through various methods of Motion Study Micro-Motion Study movie film and the Chronocyclegraph the Gilbreths were able to examine the smallest of motions. However, to make the process uniform, between practitioners, they needed a method of categorizing the types of motions.

The method would also have to be a system that could easily apply to all types of activities and yet still allow identification of what the Gilbreths viewed as unnecessary or fatigue producing motions. The resulting method included anywhere from 15 to as many as 18 Therbligs which were added to by the Gilbreths and later authors. The sequences of motions of each hand were plotted, as was a foot, if used for pedal controls.

Then, by examining the charts, one could determine which Therbligs were taking too long or which could be eliminated by rearranging the work. The Gilbreths never assigned time values to Therbligs or to various tasks, as they believed that with an improved method of doing work, the shortest cycle time would naturally follow.

The following table lists the Therbligs, along with their mnemonic symbols and standard colors for charting. Burnt Orange. The following definitions are a combination of those assigned by the Gilbreths, Alan Mogensen, Ralph Barnes and the author to provide the greatest scope for those attempting to use the system. The Gilbreths stated that in a search, " A two dimensional search might be finding a light switch on a wall and the three dimensional search would be locating a hanging pull-chain for a light or fan.

The Gilbreths also recognized that contrasting colors, shapes or embossed symbols could reduce the search function. This science has been expanded by the modern study of Human Factors Engineering. However, the classic example of the Gilbreths reducing Search was by arranging tools and parts in a physical sequence of use through the Packet Principle.

If there is an enigma in the Therblig system, Find is it. Barnes eliminated this Therblig, explaining that it was a mental reaction, at the end of the Search cycle.

While other mental processes are included as Therbligs, this one is so momentary that the time taken for the Find function would be hardly worth measuring.

It has been left in, since, in other applications it may be utilized. Find can be considered a demarcation line, denoting the end of the Search cycle. Even though we may not find frequent or essential use for this Therblig, it should be kept available, since it may become important in a future application of the system.

This Therblig may be considered a part of Search. However, through usage by the Gilbreths, it was found to indicate locating an object from a group of similar objects.

For example, an artist may Search for a box of colored pencils and then Select the proper color. If the Select function took too long, it might be wise to see how clearly the pencils are marked do the shafts of the pencil denote the color either by copying the color on their surface or having it's name printed on the shaft. Could this be aided by a pencil holder, where a bold bar of color aligned with the pencil location?

Of course, good lighting is required to discern minor variations in color. Another aspect that the Gilbreths included under Select was in picking objects that required a certain quantity. For example, let's say your job required you to fill bags with nails each. Your count must be accurate, since the customer will complain if the count is low and management will fire you if your count is too high; giving away product.

While you could count out each and every bag 1 to , you could save a great deal of time by having an accurate scale and finding the average weight of a bag of nails. Then, you could "count" the nails by weighing them. The important thing to remember is that the Search, Find and Select Therbligs may or may not be separate elements, depending entirely on the type of work being analyzed. In simplest terms, Grasp is when the worker's hand grabs the object.

There are actually many aspects to Grasp, which the Gilbreths recognized and which continue to develop today. In this Therblig, the time taken is directly proportional with the ease of the grasp. For example, the more dimensions the object has, the quicker it can be effectively grasped. Frank Gilbreth observed that a sales clerk would put a slight crease in a cash register receipt so it rose above the counter surface, making it easier to pick up.

Hot or cold objects could be grasped faster if they had insulated handles rather than using a rag or gloves to pick up an un-insulated handle. The Gilbreths also recognized that when Grasp was a static position, such as holding a block of wood while a screw was being inserted, that it should be eliminated by using a jig or foot-activated clamp or other holding device.

They felt that the hand was a poor vise and caused great fatigue. Mogensen and Barnes separated this into a new Therblig see Hold. An important element in saving time was whether the initial grasping of an object would be the proper grasp for the Use or Assemble function. However, in the body of the Gilbreths' work, the Grasp function was examined in detail, as to the type of Grasp power grip, hook, precision or pinch grip. In their writings, they emphasized the advantages of the power and hook grips and tried to avoid precision and pinch grips.

These findings are supported in current Ergonomics knowledge. Barnes said this Therblig was " While the Gilbreths considered this part of Grasp, Mogensen and Barnes were correct in making it a separate Therblig, so as to alert the user to a negative Therblig, which should be eliminated. This is particularly true in using Therbligs in ergonomics, where static holding is an undesirable posture.

By eliminating static Holding, you not only free up a hand for other uses, but also reduce overall fatigue. This Therblig begins after Grasp where the hand is doing "work" by moving the weight of an object, and ends when just before the Release Load, Use or Assemble Therbligs.

The main objective of this Therblig is to reduce the distance and subsequent time involved for transport. However, an obscure note in the Gilbreth papers has even more important ramifications in applying Therbligs to Ergonomics.

Gilbreth sometimes included numbers, indicating the weight of the object inside the "fingers" of the mnemonic symbol. This information, combined with reach distances, can identify possible problems leading to strains. Distances and effort can be reduced by the old Gilbreth maxim of making gravity work for you, by having sloped bins. This type of storage bin also would improve the Search function, since objects would be easier to see.

This is the motion of moving the unloaded hand from the point of Release Load, to the next function within the sequence. It can also be considered the hand motions involved between Select and Grasp, where the eye identifies the object and the hand moves towards it to grasp. This Therblig is a non-productive one, and as such, should be kept to a minimum. One could reduce the length of Transport Empty, by placing the release point close to the Assemble point, such as a gravity chute located by a hole in the work surface.

In many instances, reducing the length of either Transport Therblig can reduce the extent of reaching required; a sound ergonomic principle. This motion is the act of placing the object in the proper orientation for Use. For example, a screw lies on the workbench in a horizontal orientation, but is to be used in a vertical position.

Positioning would occur when the screw is picked up and rotated into the vertical position for inserting it into an object. This function may be completed during Transport Loaded or be a totally separate Therblig. This Therblig, like Hold, is one, which can completely be eliminated by the design of the work place. If a tool or part is placed such that it is stored in the proper position for Grasp, the object doesn't have to be reoriented.

Take, for example, the use of a pen. If kept in the shirt pocket, you must remove it with the tips of the thumb and index finger, by the opposite end of the point.

If the pen were lying flat on the table, people would generally pick it up by the mid-section. In each instance, the pen must be reoriented into the proper writing Position, before it can be Used. However, if the pen were in a holder, angled back toward the person, they could Grasp the pen in the same orientation as the Use position, thus never having to change Position. See also Pre-Position. This Therblig starts when two or more parts are placed together a peg into a hole and ends when either the assembled object is Transport Loaded or when the hand reaches for another part Transport Empty.

Long lengths of time for this Therblig open numerous possibilities for improvement. For example, in the case of placing a peg in a hole each of the same diameter , both Gilbreth and Barnes found that your can speed assembly by increasing the size of the target.

In the case of the peg, assembly time will be significantly shorter if the holes are countersunk, which aids in guiding the peg into the hole. The Industrial Engineering field has developed an infinite number of ways to reduce assembly time. For example, using "key-ways" to mark the proper orientation of a part reduces errors and the subsequent time to correct them. This Therblig should not be confused with Assemble.

Use is when an object is being operated as it was intended, and typically denotes a tool. For example, we would Assemble a drill by placing a drill bit in the chuck and tightening it, but we Use the drill to bore holes. Operation of controls on a machine would also be considered Use. Alan Mogensen later categorized Use as the Therblig requiring the most skill. This motion is essentially the opposite of Assemble, depending on the circumstances.

While it could be used where a mistake was made in Assemble, it could also be the act of removing a part from a jig or clamp, which held the part during the Use or Assemble motion.


Therbligs and 18 Motions Name with Symbols

Login Now. Therbligs primarily refer to motion of human body at the workplace and to the mental activities associated with it. They permit much more precise and detailed description of the work than any other recording techniques. Therbligs were suggested by Frank B. Gilberth the founder of motion study who differentiated 17 fundamental hand or hand and eye motions to which an eighteenth has been added.


Therbligs are 18 kinds of elemental motions, used in the study of motion economy in the workplace. A workplace task is analyzed by recording each of the therblig units for a process, with the results used for optimization of manual labour by eliminating unneeded movements. The word therblig was the creation of Frank Bunker Gilbreth and Lillian Moller Gilbreth , American industrial psychologists who invented the field of time and motion study. It is a reversal of the name Gilbreth , with 'th' transposed. A basic motion element is one of a set of fundamental motions required for a worker to perform a manual operation or task. The set consists of 18 elements, each describing a standardized activity.





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