Monitor-Box to address practical problems in piece work operations

Piecework Operations

Piece work (or piecework) is any type of employment in which a worker is paid a fixed piece rate for each unit produced or action performed regardless of time.

  • Piecework is normally set up as a system with a normative cycle time
  • Cycle time is measured from the start of an item until the start of the next item.
  • Cycle time setting methods via clocking or video analysis are outdated
  • The normative cycle time is the basis of the reward system
  • In most countries law requires from employers to set a piece work rate that ensures that all workers are able to earn minimum wage
  • The cycle time for each detail is agreed between workers and management based on measurement or experience
  • A set %-age of total work-time divided by “agreed” cycle time is the norm for the minimum wage
  • Workers that fail to meet the standard get minimum wage but are likely to be dismissed
  • High output workers increase production capacity of a faciltity

Challenges in traditionally organized Piecework Operations

Impossible to determine cycle times for every small item

If a factory has many different items how to set new norm times? Impossible to determine cycle times for every small item.

Dropping quality level

Obviously high output is rewarding and especially in situations where the output cannot be traced back to individual employees this may result in low quality output. 

Attempts to lower the norm

Workers will negotiate to set the norm lower as to make more income. Clocking of the cycle is complicated and the process may be manipulated. With some of the workers not achieving the standard (by a bit) the workforce tries to renegotiate.

Drive for overtime

When a surcharge to basic salary applies for overtime, the team may work towards this to ensure additional pay-outs. 

Frustration Within the Team

Team members have an interest to keep the norm low.

Frequent switch-over to new designs may be a cause for frustration as the team may expect a drop in income when going through the learning curve. 

When high piece work amounts are paid above base salary, eventually there may be a considerable pay-out disparity between the (talented) fast workers and the slower workers possibly causing frustration.

Smart Monitoring System

M-Box benefits in Piecework Operations


Traditional clocking systems

Issues addressed for reliable norm setting

One would not attempt to lower the norm by slowing down the general speed of body movement. Instead there will be “work-bursts” with work done on a normal speed, interrupted by unscheduled breaks. 

The variety of new items in leather and textile makes it impossible to set cycle times by hand but depends on experience values. 

Cycle time via analysis of (secret) video footage is time consuming and may not be welcomed. 


Easy and fair norm setting with M-Box

Realistic Insight in the Cycle Time

M-Box monitoring system allows you to have realistic insight in the cycle time since it monitors all workers and all work stations with registration of the work instruction (which detail is being produced). The normative cycle time can easily be determined by comparing cycle times of various workers over small intervals throughout a day.

For example:

– compare 100 intervals of 10 minutes
– Choose a bracket of “best performing” intervals according to a fair system. (blend of workers, top 20%) and determine on basis of the average cycle time in that selection. Automatic and fair.

Bonus value

Team engagement

Transparent payment system

M-Box monitoring system allows to do away with the excels and paper notes on basis of which workers get rewarded. Instead each team member can have real-time insight in their own performance via personal mobile device. No more disputes or haggling over pay-outs.