With funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, researchers at the Department of Agriculture, Mediterranean University of Reggio Calabria set out to prove the impact of environmental heat exposure on labor loss in the vineyard.
The time and motion study has been a tool for setting the price of manufactured products: the manufacturer records the length of time it takes for humans and/or robots to complete a number of individual manufacturing tasks. The labor cost for each manufactured unit and the cost to assemble are added to the overall cost of materials and distribution to arrive at a product’s price.
Could time and motion be applied to vineyard labor?
The researchers in Calabria claim the global wine industry represents ∼0.2% of the world’s gross domestic product . They also claim, even with the mechanization of vineyard work throughout the world, much of the work to produce wine is still manual labor --perfect to evaluate through a time and motion study.
Climate has been increasingly warmer in areas suitable for grape growing. The Mediterranean region has felt that change, so the researchers felt it important to know what effect, if any, the warming has on the cost of vineyard labor. For the study, they selected Cyprus, where the mean high temperature during harvest is above 36°C (96°F). According to the researchers, “laboratory studies have shown that the above-mentioned amount of thermal strain during grape picking can impair the human physiologic function and capacity to perform prolonged exercise and work.”
The primary aim of this study was to assess the impact of workplace heat on the work shift time spent performing labor (WTL); in other words, picking grapes. Time-motion analysis was done by way of a video camera to follow the vineyard workers’ movement and time spent. According to the paper, “This method is very powerful, since the investigator can analyze every second spent by each worker during every work shift, thus accurately assessing WTL without bias.”
The study’s secondary aim was to determine whether environmental seasonal conditions influence the grape pickers.