Jidoka: Definition, Principles, and Examples in Lean Manufacturing

Experience seamless defect detection and resolution with Jidoka principles. Achieve flawless assembly lines effortlessly. Dive into Jidoka's principles, tools, and real-world examples in this insightful blog.
A car assembly line in a factory with machinery and equipment. A partly assembled car is centered in the frame, with components and tools organized around it. The setting is well-lit, and the industrial space appears clean and orderly.
Published on:
27 December 2023
Updated on:
21 February 2024

Defects are one of the most commonly found issues in the manufacturing world. Anyone working in manufacturing will have seen countless defects in their careers, whether in their products or production machinery.

Yet, wouldn’t it be great if defects can be automatically detected and resolved immediately? That is precisely what the “Jidoka” philosophy is striving to achieve. Yet, what is Jidoka? And how can you use this Japanese philosophy to create a defect-free assembly line?

This article will discuss Jidoka’s meaning, principles, examples, and the tools needed to implement it.

At the end of this article, we also provide a freely downloadable e-book PDF on lean manufacturing, a quality control checklist template PDF, and an 8D report template PDF. With these walkthroughs, you can immediately apply the Jidoka principles to improve your plant’s quality control process.

What Is Jidoka?

Before delving deeper, it’s essential to understand what Jidoka means and the history that led to its creation.

Jidoka’s Definition

Translated from Japanese, Jidoka means autonomation – a combination of “autonomous” and “automation.” Toyota, the pioneer of this concept, defines Jidoka as “automation with a human touch” or “intelligent automation.”

With Jidoka implemented, production machinery can detect defects independently, without human supervision. When a defect is detected, the machine immediately notifies an employee on duty, who will intervene and resolve the defect.

Thus, with Jidoka, no human intervention is necessary to detect defects. Human intervention is only needed when a defect has been defected. Not having to detect defects manually saves the employees an enormous amount of time.

As defects happen only occasionally, an employee can be in charge of multiple production machinery instead of just one, which is a significant cost-cutting advantage of applying Jidoka to your production facility.

A stack light with red, yellow, and green indications is mounted on industrial machinery. The background is filled with various mechanical and electronic components, all contributing to an automated manufacturing setup. The focus is on the illuminated light.

Jidoka’s Background

The concept of Jidoka was introduced by Sakichi Toyoda (the founder of Toyota) when we completed the Toyoda Power Loom in 1897. A loom is a machine used to weave fabric. Back then, his company was not an automobile manufacturer but produced textile-weaving machines instead.

In Japan, his power loom was revolutionary, as it had a weft-halting device. This feature automatically stops the loom if the weft thread in the shuttle breaks or is exhausted, preventing woven fabric defects.

Moreover, thanks to this automation, the user doesn’t need to watch the loom constantly to prevent fabric defects. In any textile factory that uses the Toyoda Power Loom, an employee can be responsible for several machines instead of just one. This innovation makes any textile plant more efficient.

The Toyota Production System

This simple yet revolutionary innovation is the birth of the modern-day philosophy of Jidoka. This late-19th-century concept lives on today and remains a building block in the world-famous Toyota Production System (TPS).

The TPS has propelled Toyota’s dominance in the global automobile market. In 2022, Toyota was the world’s best-selling automobile producer, an achievement it held for its third consecutive year.

The TPS’s impact on boosting production efficiency is indeed tremendous. This McKinsey article by Deryl Sturdevant, a  former president and CEO of Canadian Autoparts Toyota (CAPTIN), illustrates TPS’s immense impact.

He says changing the die required for making an aluminum-alloy wheel using conventional methods takes 4-5 hours. Yet Toyota can arrange this process to take less than an hour to complete. This example demonstrates the might of the TPS and the lean manufacturing mindset in general.

Jidoka in Lean Manufacturing

Jidoka is an inseparable part of lean manufacturing due to its Toyota roots. Lean manufacturing is a mindset of removing 8 waste types to achieve total production efficiency. These waste types are:

A grid of eight blue icons represents different types of waste in manufacturing. Each icon has a label: Defective Products, Excessive Processing, Overproduction, Idle Resources, Having to Store Items, Unnecessary Motions, Transportation, and Underutilized Human Resources.

To be a “lean” manufacturer and entirely remove the 8 waste forms, any manufacturer must follow the 5 lean manufacturing principles, which are:

A five-step lean manufacturing process is represented in an arrow-shaped flowchart from left to right. Steps include 1. Identifying Customer Value, 2. Value Stream Mapping, 3. Creating a Lean Manufacturing Flow, 4. Establishing a Pull System, and 5. Kaizen (Continuous Improvement).

Jidoka Principles

Applying Jidoka requires implementing its 4 principles. Every principle is directly correlated, so each principle must be executed well. Failure in one of the principles will undoubtedly lead to failure in complying with the other principles.

Here are the 4 principles that any Jidoka-conforming plant must follow:

A horizontal flowchart with four purple arrows depicting a process. The arrows are labeled: 1. Automatic Defect Detection, 2. Automatic Assembly Line Pause and Defect Notification, 3. Human Corrective Intervention, 4. Defect Prevention.

Principle 1: Automatic Defect Detection

In Jidoka, all of your production machinery must be able to detect defects automatically. A machine with this capability can detect defects independently, without human involvement. As a result, your employees don’t have to supervise these machines, freeing them to do other more productive tasks.

There are various ways in which a machine can have an automatic defect detection capability. Conventionally, some production machinery is designed to detect defects mechanically.

For example, most printers can detect if the wrong paper size has been inserted. Its paper feeder and paper roller will automatically adjust themselves to the requested paper size before printing something, ensuring that the correct paper size will be used in the printing process.

Hence, if a printer is requested to print a document on a sheet of A3-sized paper while its user inserted A4-sized papers instead, the printer will immediately know that the wrong paper size was inserted. It will also notify its users immediately. This notification is an example of automatic defect detection through mechanical means.

In addition to mechanical means, more advanced production machinery can also detect defects digitally. These machines are equipped with cameras or sensors, which function as their “eyes” and “see” the products they’re making.

With these “eyes, ” it can autonomously inspect these products and judge whether they contain any defects. This process is called Robotic Process Automation (RPA). Jidoka and RPA are a perfect match, as both aim to automate simple tasks, such as detecting defective products and supervising production machinery.

These RPA-capable machinery are paired with AI-powered defect-detection software, which uses AI that has been programmed to spot defects and abnormalities in the assembly line. Some popular defect detection software include IBM’s Maximo Visual InspectionZeiss’ Automated Defect Detection, and Omron’s FH Vision System.

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Principle 2: Automatic Assembly Line Pause and Defect Notification

Besides automatically detecting defects, all machinery in your assembly line must have two essential features: the ability to stop the assembly line automatically and to notify your employees immediately once a defect has been spotted.

Being able to automatically stop the assembly line in the case of a defect is a crucial feature. It prevents the defective product from proceeding to the next phase in the assembly line.

If the assembly line is not stopped, the defective product can go along in the assembly line, be distributed, and end up in your customers’ hands. This must be avoided, as faulty products can lead to customer complaints, product recalls, or even safety incidents, damaging your brand’s reputation.

Moreover, the ability to notify your shop floor employees immediately when a defect has been found is equally needed. For this feature, speed is the most essential aspect. The faster your employees know and resolve the defect, the better.

The time between a defect’s detection and its resolution matters significantly. Pausing the assembly line, even just for a short time, can be exceptionally costly. Of course, the financial impact differs between industries and production scales.

According to a Siemens report, a production pause in an average automotive plant can cost upwards of USD 2 million/hour. Therefore, the ability to detect defects, pause the assembly line temporarily, resolve the defects, and continue production as quickly as possible is critical. The phrase “time is money” applies literally in this case.

A factory assembly line with multiple robotic arms in operation. The robotic arms are orange and aligned in a row, each equipped with tools for manufacturing tasks. The setting is industrial, with a focus on automation and efficiency.

Principle 3: Human Corrective Intervention

Jidoka mainly emphasizes automatic defect detection and notification done by your production machinery. However, once a defect has been spotted, human intervention is still necessary to correct this defect.

Thanks to automated defect detection and assembly line pausing, your employees can quickly pinpoint where the defect lies. Afterward, they can perform corrective actions to resolve or remove the defective product. As previously stated, the faster it can be completed, the better.

Principle 4: Defect Prevention

Once a defect has been resolved, the next logical step is to prevent a similar defect from occurring again. Investigate the root cause of the defect and set up the necessary improvements in the production process to prevent such defects from occurring in the future.

There are numerous techniques of corrective measures, such as Corrective Action Preventive Action (CAPA) and the 8D Problem Solving Method. At the end of this article, we also provide an 8D report template PDF that you can download for free to help you get started with defect prevention.

Jidoka Tools and Systems

Implementing these Jidoka principles from scratch is always challenging. Fortunately, several techniques and tools can help your plant to conform to the Jidoka standards, such as:

Using the Poka-Yoke Assembly Process

In Japanese, “Poka-Yoke” means “error-proofing.” Similar to lean manufacturing philosophies such as Jidoka, Heijunka, and Kaizen, Poka-Yoke originated from Toyota. It was developed in the 1960s by Shigeo Shingō, an industrial engineer at Toyota.

Poka-Yoke is extensively applied in lean manufacturing due to its simple yet powerful philosophy. In a nutshell, Poka Yoke mandates that a product’s assembly process must involve a safeguard mechanism to prevent errors.

For example, assembling your products using an interlocking mechanism is a good idea. That way, these products can only proceed to the next step of the assembly line when all components match and “click” with each other.

This is similar to how attaching two Lego bricks works: they will only link to each other if they’re meant to, or else these two Lego bricks will reject each other.

A diagram comparing incorrect and correct alignments of a plug and socket. On the left, with a red X, the plug's prongs face away from the socket's holes. On the right, with a green checkmark, the plug's prongs are correctly aligned to fit into the socket's holes.

The interlocking assembly method is only one of the examples of the Poka-Yoke philosophy in action. Learn more about Poka-Yoke’s principles, strategies, and examples.

Adding an Andon System

“Andon” meant initially “paper lantern” in Japanese, but it is more often translated as “sign” or “signal” when talking about lean manufacturing. Andon was also pioneered by Toyota, specifically by Taiichi Ōhno, an industrial engineer at Toyota during the 1950’s.

Andon Light 

Andon is a very straightforward system: it consists of a light with three colors, typically red, yellow, and green). If no defects or problems are found on the assembly line, and everything is in order, the green light will be on.

When the green light is on, no human supervision or intervention in the assembly line is necessary. Consequently, your employees can do other more productive tasks.

When the yellow light is on, an issue has been detected and requires a human intervention. However, this issue is mild and can be resolved quickly or concurrently with the ongoing production process. Thus, stopping the entire assembly line is not yet necessary.

Issues that trigger a yellow light include low component or material inventory in production machinery or routine machinery maintenance that is due.

Although these issues are not severe, they must be addressed immediately. Failing to resolve them quickly could lead to a red Andon light, where the entire assembly line must be stopped.

Finally, the red Andon signifies that a severe issue has been detected and that the entire assembly line must be stopped to resolve the problem. For example, a defective product that blocks the assembly line and must be removed immediately.

An illustration of an Andon System, featuring a stack light with three colors: red at the top indicating

Conventionally, an employee can control the Andon lights using a switch or a cord. However, you can also electronically connect your production machinery to the Andon lights in your plants.

Once connected, your production machinery will automatically link its status to the 3 Andon light colors. Your employees no longer need to supervise the assembly line or turn on the Andon lights when an issue is detected, saving their time for other, more important tasks.

Andon Board

Besides using Andon lights, it’s also recommended to use an Andon board. An Andon board is a system that displays the performance of your assembly line. It visualizes the number of detected issues and the downtime it caused in each assembly line.

A factory floor plan showing the status of six stations across Production Line 1 and Line 2. Line 1 stations 1-3: two in red (stopped) and one in yellow (needs assistance). Line 2 stations 4-6: two in green (normal) and one in yellow (needs assistance).

Examples of Jidoka in Action

Just like many other lean manufacturing philosophies, Jidoka originated from Toyota. However, it has spread to countless other companies in various industries. Here are some examples of Jidoka success stories in real-life manufacturing settings:

Novio

Novio, a packaging manufacturer, is an excellent example of a company implementing the Jidoka principles. It integrates the FH Vision System from Omron, a set of cameras equipped with an AI-powered quality control inspector, to its factory in Denmark.

Hence, Novio’s defect detection & reporting systems have been fully automated. No additional human inspectors are needed, saving Novio labor costs.

An automated quality control system can process many more products in the assembly line than a human inspector. With this technology, Novio has set a bold target: to eliminate the possibility of defects to just one defect per 100,000 products.

An industrial production line with white bottles on a conveyor belt. The machinery appears to be automated, with metal frames and components. The background is slightly blurred, suggesting depth and a focus on the machinery and bottles in the foreground.

Amazon

Amazon, the American e-commerce giant, is also a textbook example of Jidoka’s application in real life. It operates numerous distribution warehouses, storing items before being shipped to customers worldwide.

Due to Amazon’s gigantic operations scale, mistakes happen now and then. Sometimes, the wrong items were sent to customers. For instance, a customer ordered a headphone but received a hard disk from Amazon instead. As a result, Amazon must refund this customer and then send the correct product.

To mitigate this, Amazon installed Andon systems in its warehouses, which allow rapid issue detection and on-the-spot problem-solving. The impact was spectacular. Thanks to the Andon system, Amazon can prevent an estimated 50,000-100,00 shipping errors annually.

Azumuta’s Jidoka Solutions for Your Lean Manufacturing Needs

You will need the best digital solutions to apply the Jidoka principles and other lean manufacturing philosophies. Fortunately, Azumuta has everything you need to implement Jidoka and be a lean manufacturer. Our powerful software can help in many ways:

Digital Work Instructions

Jidoka seeks to automate defect detection and reporting. Yet, once a defect has been found, it’s up to your employees to resolve it. Therefore, it’s still necessary to give work instructions to your employees. And, of course, our Digital Work Instructions module is the most feature-rich available in the market.

With it, you can create easily-understood 100% paperless work instructions within a few minutes, thanks to your drag-and-drop nature. Support your work instructions with images, videos, and even 3D models. Complement them with color coding, symbols, and schematics.

Ensure your instructions are followed with real-time data capture from the shop floor, supported by images and videos from your employees’ devices. Our module also allows two-way remote communication between its users. Hence, coordinating employees from different departments has never been easier.

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Audits & Digital Checklists

Automated quality control systems are typically more precise and can check more products than an average human inspector. Yet, it’s still necessary to do preventive audits on these systems occasionally to ensure their accuracy.

Our Audits & Digital Checklists module is your one-stop companion for all your audit needs. With it, you can plan, execute, and keep track of your audits. With our audit dashboard, you can continuously monitor your audit’s progress and results- ensuring it’s always on track.

When undertaking Corrective Action Preventive Action (CAPA), our module is also a great helping hand. Ensure that no step in this rigorous process is skipped with our multi-media supporting digital checklists.

And, of course, any good audit would result in a comprehensive audit report. Our Audits & Digital Checklists module has a feature that any auditor would desire: automatic audit report writing.

Based on the obtained data, our module can generate detailed audit reports with images and videos. Hence, you no longer need to spend hours drafting audit reports: Azumuta will do it for you.

Thanks to it, you can execute multiple audits simultaneously, automatically obtain audit reports, and seamlessly collaborate with your team members under one app.

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Quality Management

What if you can direct your automated quality control system’s data to your PC/tablet/smartphone? From the comfort of your own desk, without needing to go to the shop floor and check the machinery in the assembly lines yourself, saving your precious time and energy? Well, our Quality Management module allows you to do precisely that.

Besides being connectible to PCs, tablets, and smartphones, Azumuta can also integrate with numerous peripheral devices. As a result, these peripheral devices can feed their data directly to your PC/tablet/smartphone.

Thanks to this feature, you will have total situational awareness of your entire plant. Whenever an issue is detected, you will be automatically notified right away.

Moreover, our Quality Management module offers an issue ticketing system. With it, any detected defect can immediately get a ticket. Thanks to this ticketing system, keeping track of defective products becomes more straightforward, and their resolution is quicker.

And importantly, you can convert all the data sourced from various devices (including peripherals) in your plant into an automatically generated quality control report. Gone are the days when your quality control officers had to spend hours drafting a quality control report from scratch – thanks to Azumuta.

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Skills Matrix & Training

Automated quality control systems are a highly advanced piece of technology. To operate these systems, your employees must be adequately trained before using this powerful yet complicated system. And our Skill Matrix & Training module is the perfect tool for this task.

Thanks to our pre-existing color-coded template, this module lets you draft visually intuitive skills matrices in minutes. Simply input your employees’ names, selected skills, and skill levels, and that’s it.  You have created a fully functional and easily customizable skill matrix—no need to spend an hour or two designing the matrix from scratch with Microsoft Excel.

In addition, due to rapid technological advancements, you must train your employees from time to time.  Keep them updated with the latest industrial technology and techniques. With our Skill Matrix & Training module, planning and organizing employee training has never been easier.

Create a training schedule in our module in just a few clicks. Later, we will send automated reminder notifications to your employees’ devices when training is due, ensuring that no training sessions are ever missed.

Moreover, our module can also generate an individualized report for each employee, allowing you to keep track of their performance and training history.

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Free Lean Manufacturing E-Book PDF, Quality Control Checklist Template PDF, and 8D Report Template PDF

Besides our multi-features app, you can also download a Lean Manufacturing E-Book PDF, a Quality Control Checklist Template PDF, and an 8D Report Template in PDF for free.

Download Your Free Quality Control Checklist Template

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Download Your Free 8D Report Template

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Check out how our client’s use of Azumuta has led to impressive improvements: 60% fewer customer complaints, 50% less time spent on creating and managing work instructions, 40% quicker problem resolution, 40% less time spent on employee training, and an overall 20% full-time employee gain due to increased work instructions efficiency in their own words.

Not yet convinced? Be sure to check other success stories as well. Our lean manufacturing software tool will make your transition into Jidoka as easy as a walk in the park.

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