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Simultaneous Motion (Simo) Charts

Therbligs are a great way to analyse processes but how do we make use of this information to improve efficiency and optimise productivity?

Minimize Your Therbligs

The real key to workplace systems optimisation with Therbligs is to try not only to speed them up but to reduce them. The standard way of starting this process mapping is with a Simultaneous Motion (Simo) Chart. These can be applied at all organisational levels from the boardroom to the shop floor.

What Is A Simo Chart?

A Simo Chart is simply a special chart that records the various Therbligs used in a process, indicating different units of work with special symbols. The Simo chart can then be analysed to look for ways of simplifying the process and making it more efficient. This can both increase worker productivity and reduce fatigue. This can result in greater employee satisfaction and productivity.

Simos were probably the first work simplification flowcharts. Originally the Simo chart was drawn on paper. Today, of course, you can buy numerous software packages and tools to assist in the task.


Analysing and minimising Therbligs can provide useful input into the optimisation process, however they should not be treated as the only factor. Sometimes "optimising" a procedure can have unexpected consequences. Workers are humans not machines.

There's a famous story concerning Frank Gilbreth himself. He attempted to study the way he shaved in the morning in order to speed the process. Eventually he tried using two razors at once. He reported that this was a "success" in the sense that he saved around 90 seconds shaving time. Unfortunately he then had to spend several minutes patching up the cuts!

Employee buy-in, involvement and reward must be considered during any "time and motion" analysis. Failure to do so risks shaving business expenses at the cost of damaging cuts in staff relationships and morale.