Jidoka was first used in 1896 by Sakichi Toyoda, who invented a textile loom that would stop automatically when it encountered a defective thread. Jidoka is a Japanese term used in lean manufacturing. The term describes a scenario where machines cease operating without human intervention when a problem or defect is discovered.
Jidoka then became one of the three pillars of the Toyota Production System (TPS) after Toyoda’s son Kiichiro transformed the textile company into an automobile manufacturer.
The concept facilitates autonomation, defined as automation with a human touch.
Having a human watch over a machine constantly is both physically demanding and prone to error.
For example, a worker required to inspect every part of a machine for one defect will quickly experience tired eyes or repetitive strain injuries.
Defect rates in most processes are well below 1%, which means a worker employed to look for them would become bored very easily.
Since Jidoka automates error detection, the business can reassign employees to more productive roles.
Like most aspects of lean manufacturing, Jidoka exists to minimize waste and improve efficiency.
Before modern businesses adopted the concept, manufacturing defects were not detected until long after they had occurred.
In some cases, the product had already been sold to a consumer before a problem was identified.
The four principles of Jidoka
Four simple principles of Jidoka exist, with each playing a role in preventing defects from reaching the customer.
Each principle takes the form of a step:
Discover an abnormality (automated)
In an ideal world, abnormalities are prevented by building quality into a process from the start and not by inspecting for quality at the end.
Stopping the line is as important as developing a culture where doing so is accepted and not feared.
Many Western businesses fear a loss of productivity when the line is constantly stopped for problems.
However, Jidoka favors addressing minor issues before they have a chance to become major issues.
Fix the immediate problem (human)
At companies such as Toyota, line interruptions are a way of life.
When operators detect a problem, supervisors are immediately notified to help solve the problem.
If the solution is easy, the problem is rectified and the line restarted.
If not, the appropriate expertise is called in for support.
Investigate and correct the root cause by installing a countermeasure (human)
Despite being notified of problems by superior technology, some businesses still find it difficult to correct the problem and identify the root cause.
To ensure problems are solved once and for all, personnel should be trained in root cause identification techniques.
Then, any change to relevant operating procedures must be documented and communicated to the staff.
- Jidoka is a Japanese term used in lean manufacturing which promotes autonomation, or automation with a human touch. It was developed by Sakichi Toyoda, whose son would eventually found the Toyota Motor Company.
- Jidoka exists to minimize waste and improve efficiency. This is achieved by detecting errors before they occur through automation, which frees up employees to be assigned to more productive roles.
- Jidoka is based on four simple principles, with each representing a step in the error detection process. Discovering the abnormality and stopping the line should be automated, while fixing the immediate problem, and correcting the root cause by installing a countermeasure is performed by workers.
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