Jidoka, also known as autonomation, refers to people and equipment working together to monitor processes and improve results. With jidoka, a construct workers and equipment have license to halt progress when abnormality strikes. Jidoka recognizes the necessity of automatic processing, but seeks to avoid the manufacture of defective products, throttle overproduction, and redirect human energy to understanding and eliminating the recurrence of production problems. The core sequence is:
→ Detect abnormality
→ Stop process
→ Correct abnormality
→ Probe root cause
→ Effect corrective action
Jidoka isn’t 100% automatic nor machine-autonomous. Instead, it engages a combination of automation with human intervention. There’s no longer reliance wholly on workers to continuously check processes and outcomes; instead when a concern is encountered, the machine alerts and stops process. Then, a worker intervenes and stops production to engage in investigation and countermeasures. In the long run, this serves to address and eliminate thorny problems directly at their source.
With Jidoka, there are beneficial productivity gains as well as job enrichment influences. Operators are released from many of the repetitive tasks that were previously in their remit. A single worker no longer oversees only a single machine or process with sole accountability for its continual quality oversight and control… in other words, a lesser skilled production function bias. Instead, under autonomation, a worker learns and leads numerous processes where it’s necessary to gain pertinent and broader equipment expertise… in other words, a higher skilled supervisory function bias.
Jidoka is one of the two founding principles of the Toyota Production System. It enhances the defect detection rate improving quality as machines report product requirement excursions and stop work-in-progress before more scrap is produced; enriches the job description of those who now must know more about the work and in particular how to problem-solve; and, lifts productivity by applying labor across more production than prior man-machine models.
To see how jidoka works in real life, read out Robot Vacuum blog post!