Walter G. Holmes
WFC Times blauw0202


Walter G. Holmes (born on .............. at .............. and died on ............. in .....................) together with A.B. Segur, worked as one of the first people on a system of predetermined times. In the first place and mainly, they wanted to develop a system to valuate the different methods of working and to determine the most welcomed method. Only secondly, to develop a tool to be able to determine the production of workers. They developed tables of motion times that accounted for the effect on time of the distance travelled and the body part used.

In Oktober 1938 Holmes published a book entitled “Applied Time and Motion Study”, issued by The Ronald Press Company, New York. In this book  Holmes shows various tables of motion times for different body parts. He called his system “Body Member Movements”, BMM. At that time he worked as a time study engineer at the Timken Detroit Axle Company, Michigan. In 1945 he works as a standards engineer for the Mid-West Machine Products Company in Detroit. At that time he uses the B.S.M.E. and B.Sc degrees .

Holmes distinguished 24 therbligs consisting of the well known 17 therbligs of Gilbreth plus the Hold-therblig and 6 therbligs for Acquire (Acq), Start (St), Stop (Stop), Deviate (D), Nerve Reaction (NR) and Mind Decision (MD). With these additional therbligs, the analyst is able to credit the operator with time value for nerve reaction and mental processes.
It is remarkable that the 24 “fundamental motions” are called “therbligs” and were denoted by their proper acronym and nevertheless he never uses the therblig symbols.

The time values in his table for Body Member Movements are expressed in decimal minutes, like: R(4”) = 0,0035; HT(-90o) = 0,0090; Fo = 0,0020 - 0,0040 and Ins = 0,0035 - 0,0045. Moreover, every movement must be preceded by the therblig MD with a time value between 0,0015 - 0,0050, while even sometimes an MD is necessary to stop the motion. However, semi-trained and trained operators may not need time for NR and MD.
Regarding the intrinsic tempo he writes: “No matter what type of work is performed, or the extent of concentration, fatigue or skill, the operator is expected to acquire a reasonable speed and precision in his activities. Picking up a package of sigarettes would be: R(8”), Gr, M(6”) = 0,0048 + 0,0017 + 0,0040 = 0,0105 min. (Compare with Segur: 1015 SU, DWF: 120 TU, RWF: 11 RU and VWF: 13 VU)

David Ferguson, one of the workers of the Gilbreth Foundation, who did some research on Holmes stated: Holmes was certainly not a "Gilbreth trainee" as he ignored so many of the Gilbreth's principles. One should understand that there were still some die-hard Taylor fans at that time, who felt motion study was just a tool in Taylor's system. Mr. Holmes appears to be one of them.

On the review of Holmes’ book David Ferguson declares: “This book was so unbelievable bad, detailed review will not be done. It is doubtful if this person ever read any previous text on the subject or ever conducted his own work. He is a perfect example, stating he is a Time Study engineer for a Detroit company, of the faker so often mentioned. For example, he states that fewer motions are not necessarily less fatiguing or that when a complicated operation with constrained work positions is encountered, more time study is necessary”

The fundamental difference between motion times developed and recorded by early researchers and modern systems of predetermined motions times, is that the early researchers did not develop and record complete, integrated time systems to be used for method study or tempo rating. For the greater part their data consisted of simple, isolated motion times, and lacked so many values that it was impossible to cover for all working situations. Furthermore, they lacked rules or formulae with which times could be applied consistently in a complete time study and method study.