Jidoka: The forgotten Pillar

Jidoka: The forgotten Pillar


The Toyota Production System is frequently modeled as a house with  2 pillars. The house will not stand without both pillars. Many of us focus on mechanisms of Implementation – 1 piece flow, pull production, TAKT time, Standard Work, KANBAN – without linking those mechanisms back to the pillars that hold up the entire system.  JIT is fairly well understood, but, this second pillar is key to making the entire system stick. A lot of failed implementations can be traced back to not building this second pillar. This pillar, which is often forgotten, is “JIDOKA”

The word Jidoka traces its roots to the invention of the automatic loom by Sakichi Toyoda, Founder of the Toyota Group.

Ji –

Refers to the worker,

if he/she feels “something is wrong”  or “I’m creating a defect”

                        Do –  

                        Refers to motion or work

                                    Ka –

                                    Refers to the “action”

  1. Jidoka is a Japanese word, translated into English as “Autonomation”
  2. Autonomation differs from automation. Autonomation derives from “autonomy” – the effort, here, is to make the machine autonomous
  3. Autonomation is also referred to as “Automation with a Human Touch”. It represents the fact that the human operator is not dispensed with, but is utilized more productively.
  4. Jidoka is not a concept restricted to only machines. It is extended to manually operated production lines as well
  5. The main idea is to prevent  the generation and propagation of defects in the processing and production flow

Concept & definition

Manual Labor:

All work is being done by the worker himself


Transfering part of manual work to a machine


All manual work in processing is taken over by a machine

Jidoka (also called ‘Human Automation’):

Providing human intelligence to machine is “Jidoka”

Jidoka is the future quality system. Jidoka is the Path to Zero Defect Build in quality at each process. It says:

Never pass defects to next operation

•           Detecting abnormalities

•           Responding immediately

•           Eliminating causes

Why Jidoka? 

The purpose of Jidoka is to free equipment from the necessity of constant human attention, separate people from machines and allow workmen to staff multiple operations. This has important psychological and practical effects that contribute greatly to “Continuous Improvement."

•          Process capabilities – is indicated by amount of stoppage on Line.

•          Containment. Defects are quickly identified and contained in the zone.

•          Feedback. So that quick countermeasures can be taken.

(Catching the culprit red-handed is always better than search for the culprit based on some clues-immediate correction) 

Jidoka is one of the factors for the success of Lean implementation

•           High defect rates lead to frequent line stoppages, which will make the flow and pull difficult.

•           Defects will jeopardize the TAKT time and make the process uneven, increase Lead Time and cost.

3 functions of Jidoka

Function 1: Separation of human work from machine work

Function 2: Development of defect-prevention devices

                     (“Poka Yoke”)

Function 3: Application of Jidoka to manual work

                     like assembly`

When utilizing Jidoka, Taiichi Ohno had some specific goals of this tool in mind. But with the advancement in its scope, following goals are being achieved through its application:

1.    Effective  utilization of manpower

2.    Product produced will be of top quality

3.    Shorter delivery time of products

4.    Reduction in equipment failure rate

5.    Improve level of customer satisfaction

6.    Increase quality of final product

7.    Lower costs (Internal, External, and Appraisal cost etc.)

In case you missed it, my last post was CEOs as CHANGE AGENTS

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