Jidoka – Injecting Human Touch into Automation

6 Min Read
Jidoka - Injecting Human Touch into Automation

Every company strives for successful lean. When value flows to the customer, it creates a sense of loyalty in them because they can always count on the best experience from you.

For that, you must ensure that the product quality is up to par and remains that way or improves. However, this is not easy to achieve. Given the different elements that go into producing the final results, anything can go wrong.

Jidoka is one of the lean methodologies that companies can apply to avoid this. The approach allows you to detect issues in your processes so that you can deal with them accordingly. Learning more about the lean method should give you an idea of what it can do for your business.

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What is the Meaning of Jidoka?

Jidoka (also jidouka or jidohka) is originally a Japanese word that was modified by Toyota to be used for the word autonomation.  

  • Jido: Toyota meaning for a machine with a built-in device for making judgments.
  • Jido: Japanese meaning (automation) A machine that moves on its own.
  • Jidoka: Toyota “automation with a human touch,” or “intelligent automation,” not just a machine that moves under the guidance of an operator.

Jidoka is about process design, execution, and automation based on defined rules where human tasks are shared between people or systems based on pre-defined business process rules. 

Automatic stop of a process in case of any problems, irregularities is essential for a good production system. Subsequently – where possible – attempt to eliminate the reason for the stop.

Jidoka Toyota History

Autonomation goes back to the 1900s when Sakichi Toyoda, was looking for a way to improve quality with his automatic loom. Sakichi later created the Toyota Motor Company. 

He invented the automatic weaving machine that stopped when a thread broke. Before that, the machine would produce defective material because it would keep working even with a broken thread. For this reason, an operator needed to keep monitoring the loom to prevent faulty products.

The invention of the automatic loom meant it only demanded one hand to operate it instead of two. This offered the solution to both improved quality and increased efficiency. This led to the principle of Jidoka.

Jidoka Lean: What does Jidoka mean in lean?

Jidoka is a Lean manufacturing principle designed to detect errors and stop a process until the problem is resolved, ensuring quality is automatically built into a production process.

Its main application is the manufacturing industry, but the approach can work in other environments. The lean methodology is one of the main pillar principles in the Toyota Lean Manufacturing and World famous Toyota Production System (TPS).

At its core, the lean essential is about stopping and fixing. When an error occurs, you have to halt the process so that you can identify what’s wrong. The tool for stopping the process is called the Andon Cord, also known as the Andon Board. 

Then you can proceed with the solution. Therefore, autonomation builds quality into the process thereby reducing the risk of making defective goods. At Toyota, anyone who encounters an issue can stop the process and fix it. However, other companies might adopt the concept differently.

Jidoka Principles of Autonomation

What four steps are used in Jidoka? The four main principles exist in the method:

  • Detect the abnormality
  • Stop the process
  • Fix the immediate problem
  • Find the root cause of the issue

These principles can apply in different sectors, this allows businesses to take advantage of the benefit of autonomation. 

You can automate the first and second principles. So, in a knowledge-based sector, such as software development, you can set up measures to detect errors and stop the process, for example, rejecting code. 

The third and fourth require human intervention hence the definition of this approach. Depending on the problem, any number of people can work on these two elements.

The Value of Autonomation

What should a company expect to find by implementing the lean method? The biggest advantage is getting to save resources. Automation with human intelligence lets workers spot problems before they trickle down the value chain. It means that they can prevent defective goods from one stage to the next. Without intervention, a company would keep making sub-standard products that they would have to replace or repair later, thus costing more money.

The lean principle enhances productivity. When employees don’t have to track a particular process or machine constantly, it saves time. Workers can be responsible for several equipment pieces, which improves productivity. Alternatively, employees can allocate the time saved to other duties.

Another significant benefit is the ability to consistently deliver high-quality offerings to customers. Automation, when properly implemented, reduces the risks of defective products. Customers appreciate value, and they will pay that back with return purchases. If buyers can always count on your products to meet their standards, then they won’t have trouble recommending your brand to others.

Lean focuses on achieving more with less and that requires efficiency. With autonomation in place, you can boost not just efficiency, but productivity as well. Enterprises can customise the lean principles to suit their needs.

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