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MTM – A journey through time

Der Interviewpartner Carl Becks in einer Gesprächssituation

Frank Bunker Gilbreth (1868 to 1924), American contractor and pioneer in the study of movement, laid the foundation for the development of the MTM method at the beginning of the 20th century together with his wife Lillian, a psychologist with a doctorate. Harold Bright Maynard, together with John Lenhard Schwab and Gustave James Stegemerten, worked out the (work) scientific basis of MTM. In 1951, he founded the U.S. MTM Association for Standards and Research in New York  the initial spark for the worldwide dissemination of the method. One person who experienced Lillian Gilbreth and Maynard himself is Carl Becks, from 1992 to 2000 managing director of the Deutsche MTM-Vereinigung e. V., now MTM ASSOCIATION e. V. Experience an MTM journey through time with Carl Becks.

filmed MTM history

Carl Becks has a lot to tell – and the past is amazingly present for the now 88-year-old. He remembers well, for example, Lillian Gilbreth, who, together with her husband, had established in a large number of studies that the time needed to complete a task depends on the method chosen. This was the foundation stone for Methods-Time Measurement (MTM). After the death of her husband, Lillian Gilbreth continued his work and was eventually considered a leading expert in efficiency improvement. Perhaps some of you know the film version of the book about the Gilbreth couple and their twelve children: “Cheaper by the Dozen” (1950). Absolutely worthwhile and very entertaining – especially under the aspect of the methodical approach. 

Development of mtm-Uas and MTM-MEK

As a young engineer, Carl Becks observed the development of MTM in the USA as well as its later dissemination by US consulting companies in Europe. Becks also met Maynard personally at one of these meetings with industrial companies. As early as 1955, the first national MTM association in Europe was founded in Sweden, followed by Switzerland in 1957, then Holland, France – and Germany in 1962. At the time, Becks was working as a work planner at Vorwerk, one of the founding members of the German MTM Association.

In 1968, Becks took the next step and joined the German MTM Association. From the end of the 1970s, his work was characterized by, among other things, the development of the MTM-MEK® and MTM-UAS® process building block systems, the topics of standard performance/normal output, MTM-REFA work factor, influencing variables and method level, MTM and lean. In 1992, he succeeded Dr. Winfried Helms as managing director of the Deutsche MTM-Vereinigung e. V.

Past, present and future in view

What was important to him in this position, where he sees MTM in the future, and what he thinks is needed to achieve this goal – also with a view to digitization and internationalization – are discussed by Carl Becks in an interview with Prof. Dr. Peter Kuhlang, CEO MTM ASSOCIATION e. V., and Ina Klose-Hegewald, Team Leader Communications and Marketing.