Executing a Time Study

Getting Started with your first time study for the Forest Productivity Database

This guide is designed to aid users through the completion of their first time study, or refresh users on how to properly complete a time study. The guide can also be downloaded as a PDF here.

Table of Contents

  1. Study Idea Development
  2. Study Design
  3. Background Information Sheets
  4. Time Study App
  5. Collect Tree / Site Data
  6. Time Study Data Processing
  7. Submission to Database

 I.  Study Idea Development

  • Look at your current operations to find processes or procedures that might not be working perfectly or where production might be improved or costs lowered.
  • Identify the equipment, location, stand factors, objectives, and other general descriptions of the proposed study. 
  • For instance, I want to study a harvester in smaller diameter KZN Eucalyptus plantations – flat topography, to better understand debarking productivity.  How much time might we save by doing 3 passes instead of 5 debarking passes?

II.  Study Design

  • Visit the Select Objective page on this website and follow the decision tree questions – The end result here will be a proposed “study type” and “experimental design”.  Links are provided to the Time Study Standards page that have detailed descriptions and examples on how to set up your study.
  • Using these guides, design your study to collect the correct data so they can be used to meet your study objective and allow for appropriate statistical analyses.  Failure to design your study up front often leads to wasted effort and investment in irreverent or unnecessary data collection.
  • Also look up the equipment/operation specific time study elements that will need to be timed or measured available here.   These are also located in the Time Study Standards in section 5.0.
  • For instance, looking up a pitting machine for doing single pits, the pre-defined elements to study are listed as “Pit and Move” and “Turn”.  Break points are listed to clearly define when to start and stop timing, and additional measurements or data to be collected like distance are also noted.  Pay close attention to the “Specific time-study information required” section below the table of elements for additional information about the measurement units, the measurement equipment to be used, and other references for more information.  (see example below)

EXAMPLE:  Pitting machine: Single pit


Specific time-study information required:

  • Time: Measure time in minutes and centi-minutes – i.e. hundredths of a
  • Distance: Record distance traveled (m) either through pacing, measuring wheel or GPS data
  • Measuring equipment: Calipers (digital or manual), vertex (or other simple hypsometers – Suuntu) and tape measure or logging tape. A GPS is another useful tool for truck distance measurement, particularly when longer distances are being studied. For measuring methodology refer to South African Forestry Handbook (2012 & 2000).
  • Refer to IUFRO Time-models

III.  Background Information Sheets

  • Background information sheets have been developed and are available available for download (PDF and Excel) for filling out and use in the field. Locate these forms here.
  • The top section of these sheets will be used to record general information such as name, company, dates, etc.
  • Additional sections have space to record stand and site factors, equipment information, operating factors, and additional information/notes about your study.
  • It is imperative that this information is accurate and complete. These data sheets will provide future database users the relevant study details so they can find datasets of interest. For instance, some users may only be interested in studies focusing on Eucalyptus.  Without the background information included on these sheets, users will not be able to filter the data set to find the appropriate studies.

IV.   Time Study App

  • As part of this Forest Productivity project an android app was developed leveraging the South African Time Study Standard with the specific elements for each machine. Functions include:
    •  Element time recording
    • Delay time recording
    • Other manually input information and notes (tree #’s, distances, comments)   
    • Ability to output to a .CSV file for processing and analysis
  • This app can be downloaded from the Time Study App page.
    • Users must enter their email address in order to start the download. Your email will be used to contact you with any updates to the app.
    • You will download a file titled “timer-v1.0.0.0.apk”, open this file from your Android device to install the application. The installed application will be titled “Forestry TimeStudy”, with the android icon.
    • A step by step video of the installation process is available on the Time Study App Tutorials page to help show you how to do this.
  •  Setup/Use
    • A walk through video is provided to go over the basic use of the Time Study App.   See Tutorials

V. Collect Tree / Site Data

  • Collection and recording of additional data regarding specific site and tree information is not covered on the background info sheets or in the Time Study App, and will need to be done prior to starting the time study.
  • In section  “5.1 Standardised Element Lists by Machine”  of the Time Study Standards each machine has listed “Specific time-study information required”.  Review these details to ensure that you will collect all necessary data.  Depending on the machine, addition measurements might include
    • Numbering and measuring DBH/height/log lengths
    • Distance between trees/planting sites/other activities and total distance traveled during each cycle
    • Quantities and rates such as pump rate (L/hour) and fluid quantities.
    • Measuring equipment and measuring methodology are listed including references to the South African Forestry Handbook.

VI.Time Study Data Processing

  • Data collected on Android devices using the Time Study App can be easily downloaded into Excel on any computer.
    • Study Data can be exported/shared directly from the app to many different cloud storage spaces, emails, messages, etc.
    • If your android device does not have access to internet, this data can also be exported manually. To manually download data, first plug the Android device into the computer using a USB connector, open device folder on the computer, and search for “Timer” on the device. A folder should appear titled “Timer”, which can be opened to view all collected datasets, in Excel format. File naming is as follows: Activity/process_date_time. For example, a file could have the title “auger_13-2-2017_3-48-42.csv”.
  • Raw data output by the Time Study App will have the following columns:
    1. Cycle number
    2. Element
    3. Element time
    4. Cumulative time
    5. Tree number (only one per cycle)

EXAMPLE: Harvester


  • This data is not in an appropriate format for easy data analysis and must be organized before submitting to the database.
    • Reorganization of the data can be easily completed using pivot tables and vlookup functions in excel.  A step by step video that goes through this process  is available on the Time Study App Tutorials page.
    • Properly formatted data should look like the following:

EXAMPLE: Harvester


VII.  Submission to Database

  • Background Information:
    • An electronic background information form has also been developed for use when submitting background information. This form can be located on the Background Information page. It will ask for the same content as the in-field background information sheets but can be used for submitting information for both harvesting and silviculture operations.
  • Data:
    • All data should be submitted to forestproductivityza@gmail.com in a properly processed excel file.
    • Please name the file with your company name, equipment, and collection date – for example:  CompanyA_Auger_2017-12-31.xlsx

 Need help planning or executing your study?

Send us an email at forestproductivityza@gmail.com to let us know what you want to do or what you need help with and we will do our best to assist you.