What is Jidoka?


In manufacturing, companies constantly look for ways to enhance their product quality while reducing costs and development time. One popular method for boosting output is through a process known as Jidoka – commonly referred to as ““autonomation.”

Jidoka is a Japanese word that means “automation with a human touch.” It is a concept that can be applied in various ways to improve quality control in a production process.

The method relies on four steps:

  1. Discover
  2. Stop
  3. Fix
  4. Investigate

By automating the first two steps and then investing in fixing the problem and investigating its root cause, you can ensure quality control in your production process.

Even with output quantity being highly valued, the effective implementation of Jidoka can help boost quality along with numbers.

Jidoka in Action

One of the best ways to understand this style of “autonomation” is through practical examples. Say you are a business that manufactures golf clubs.

As part of the production process, you have automated the step of measuring the length of each club shaft. If one shaft is found to be too short, the machine will stop automatically and send a signal to the workers to fix the problem.

The workers would then investigate the root cause of why that particular shaft was too short and take appropriate measures to correct it.

This system ensures that all golf clubs are produced to meet customer specifications for length, thus improving quality control overall. And it does so in a way that is efficient and minimizes waste.

Jidoka can be applied in many different ways, depending on the production process. But implementing the concept can help you achieve better quality control in your manufacturing business.

The History of Jidoka

The concept of Jidoka originated in the early 20th century at a Japanese company called Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, which later became Toyota Motor Corporation.

The company’s founder, Sakichi Toyoda, invented a loom that could automatically stop when it detected a problem, such as a broken thread. This was a significant improvement over existing looms at the time, which would continue running even when there were problems, resulting in defective products.

The principle of Jidoka was later applied to Toyota’s manufacturing process, helping to ensure high quality in its vehicles. The company developed a system called the “Toyota Production System” or “TPS,” which relied on Jidoka to achieve its efficiency and quality goals.

TPS has since been adopted by many other companies, both in Japan and around the world.

Jidoka definition

How Does Jidoka Work?

Now that we’ve seen the history of Jidoka, let’s take a closer look at how it works. As we mentioned, the autonomation concept relies on four steps: Discover, Stop, Fix, and Investigate. We’ll go into more detail on each of these steps below.

Discover: The first step is to discover when there is a problem. This can be done through automation, as in the example of the golf club shafts above.

But it can also be done through human observation. For example, if you are manufacturing cars, workers on the assembly line might spot a problem with a particular vehicle before it goes any further down the line.

Stop: Once a problem is discovered, the next step is to stop the production process. This is important to prevent defective products from being made.

In the case of the golf clubs, stopping the machine when a shaft is found too short prevents waste and ensures that all clubs are updated to ensure proper design implementation.

Fix: The third step is to fix the problem that has been discovered. In the case of the golf clubs, this would involve fixing the short shaft so that it meets the correct length specification. Fixing can be done by human workers or through automation.

Investigate: The final step is to investigate the root cause of the problem. This is important to prevent it from happening again in the future.

In the case of the golf clubs, the workers would investigate why the shaft was too short and take appropriate measures to correct it. This might involve changing the way the shafts are made, or it might involve changing the machine that measures the length of the shafts.

What are the Goals of Jidoka?

Implementing autonomation can help you achieve several important goals in your manufacturing business. These include:

1. Stop and Prevent Defects:

The most critical goal of Jidoka is to stop and prevent defects in the products you are manufacturing. You can ensure that only high-quality products are produced by automating the discovery of problems and stopping the production process when problems are found.

2. Implement Poka-Yoke

Another goal of Jidoka is to implement poka-yoke, a Japanese quality control method that helps prevent mistakes.

In the context of Jidoka, poka-yoke refers to the automation of the discovery and stopping of production when problems are found. This helps to ensure that issues are caught early and corrected before defective products are produced.

3. Improve Customer Satisfaction

Improving customer satisfaction is another goal of Jidoka. You can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty by ensuring that only high-quality products are produced. This leads to repeat business and can help you grow your manufacturing business.

4. Increase Lean Manufacturing

Increasing lean manufacturing is another goal of Jidoka. Lean manufacturing is a manufacturing methodology that emphasizes efficiency and quality.

By implementing Jidoka, you can achieve these goals by stopping production when problems are found and investing in fixing and investigating their root causes.

Is Jidoka Different from “Just-in-Time” Manufacturing?

A common manufacturing method that is sometimes confused with autonomation is “just-in-time” manufacturing. Both approaches share the goal of reducing waste and ensuring quality, but they differ in how they achieve this goal.

Just-in-time manufacturing is a system where components are delivered to the assembly line just as they are needed. This reduces waste by eliminating the need to store large quantities of components. Jidoka, on the other hand, focuses on preventing defects from occurring in the first place.

While just-in-time manufacturing can be used to achieve quality control, Jidoka is a more comprehensive system that can provide better quality control by incorporating the four steps of discover, stop, fix, and investigate.

Why Is Jidoka an Important Concept for Businesses?

Every business wants to offer high-quality products or services to its customers.

Yet, the expectation for fast turnaround times and low prices can make achieving this goal difficult. Jidoka provides a framework for businesses to achieve quality control while maintaining efficiency.

The concept of Jidoka is rooted in the idea of continuous improvement. By constantly striving to eliminate defects, businesses can gradually improve the quality of their products or services. This, in turn, leads to happier customers and increased sales.

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The Benefits of Jidoka

There are many benefits that businesses can enjoy by implementing Jidoka. These benefits include:

  1. Jidoka can Enhance Quality Control

    As we’ve seen, autonomation is an effective system for quality control. By automating the discover and stop steps, businesses can minimize the number of defects that make it into the final product.

    And by investing in the fix and investigating steps, businesses can prevent these defects from occurring again.

    In a world dominated by ever-increasing customer expectations, quality control is more important than ever. Jidoka can help businesses meet these expectations and stay ahead of the competition.

  2. Autonomation can Reduce Costs

    It may sound counterintuitive, but businesses can actually save money by investing in Jidoka. This is because Jidoka can help companies avoid defect costs. These costs include scrap and rework, warranty claims, and customer dissatisfaction.

    In addition, Jidoka can help businesses save money by reducing the need for inventory. Rather than storing large quantities of components, companies can combine the Jidoka methodology with JIT manufacturing methods to reduce waste and save on storage costs.

  3. Jidoka can Improve Customer Satisfaction

    As we’ve seen, Jidoka is an effective system for quality control. By eliminating defects, businesses can produce high-quality products or offer high-quality services. This, in turn, leads to happier customers.

    In addition, businesses that implement Jidoka can enjoy the benefits of increased sales and repeat business. When customers are happy with a product or service, they are more likely to buy again from the same company. They are also more likely to recommend the company to others.

  4. Autonomation can Increase Efficiency

    In addition to improving quality control, Jidoka can also help businesses increase efficiency. This is because Jidoka can help businesses avoid the wasted time and resources associated with defects.

    In addition, businesses implementing Jidoka can enjoy the benefits of just-in-time manufacturing. By delivering components to the assembly line as they are needed, businesses can avoid the wasted time and resources associated with inventory.

  5. Jidoka can Benefit the Environment

    Did you know that Jidoka can also help businesses benefit the environment?

    This is because Jidoka can help businesses avoid the waste associated with defects. In addition, businesses implementing Jidoka can enjoy the benefits of just-in-time manufacturing. By reducing inventory, businesses can save on resources and reduce their environmental impact.

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How to Implement Jidoka in Your Business

So how can you begin to implement Jidoka in your own business? It all begins with a sound strategy. You’ll need to identify the areas in your business where Jidoka can have the most impact. Once you’ve done this, you can begin to implement the Jidoka system.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Automate the Discover and Stop Steps

    One of the first steps in implementing Jidoka is to automate the discovery and stop steps. You can do this in many ways, such as installing sensors or using data from your quality control system. Automating these steps ensures that defects are discovered quickly and stopped before they cause further problems.

    Are there areas where automation isn’t possible? You’ll need to train your employees to look for defects in these cases.

    For example, you might implement a visual inspection process for your assembly line. But remember to train your employees on what to look for and how to properly report defects.

  2. Fix the Problem and Investigate Its Root Cause

    Once your “discover” and “stop” steps have been defined, you can begin to notice any existing issues. However, rather than simply fix the issue once you’ve discovered and stopped, you must investigate its root cause. This will help you prevent the same problem from occurring in the future.

    Correcting the underlying problem may involve making changes to your process or equipment. Or it could require you to adjust your policies before implementing manufacturing processes. Either way, once you’ve made the necessary changes, be sure to test your process to ensure that the problem has been resolved.

  3. Implement Continuous Improvement

    Jidoka is an important tool for quality control, but it’s not a cure-all. To truly improve your process, you’ll need to implement continuous improvement. This means constantly looking for ways to improve your process and prevent defects.

    One way to do this is to establish a culture of continuous improvement. Encourage your employees to suggest improvements and make changes when necessary. You can also hold regular meetings to discuss your process and identify areas for improvement.

    Another way to implement continuous improvement is to use data to drive your decisions. Collect data on your process and use it to identify areas for improvement. By constantly monitoring your process and making necessary changes, you can ensure that it’s always running at its best.

  4. Train Your Employees

    To implement Jidoka, you’ll need to train your employees. They need to understand the system and know how to properly use it. They also need to be trained on the specific changes that you’ve made to your process.

    In addition, you’ll need to train your employees on how to troubleshoot problems. They need to know how to identify defects and investigate their root causes. By properly training your employees, you can ensure that they can effectively use the Jidoka system.

  5. Implement and Review

    After you’ve implemented Jidoka, it’s vital to review your process. This will help you identify any problems and make changes as necessary. It’s also an excellent opportunity to train your employees on the new process.

    By regularly reviewing your process, you can ensure that it’s running smoothly. You can also identify improvement areas and make necessary changes to your process.

Companies that Utilize Autonomation

  1. Toyota

    As you can imagine, Toyota is a master of Jidoka methodology. The company has used this quality control approach for decades, which is one of the reasons they’re so successful. Their implementation includes automated machines that stop when a defect is detected and employees trained to troubleshoot problems.

  2. Nike

    Shoe and athletic brand Nike has been using Jidoka methodology since the 1990s. With products that are in high demand for their style and performance, it’s essential that Nike has a quality control process that can keep up. Thanks to Jidoka, they’ve been able to do just that.

  3. Intel

    Technology giant Intel also uses Jidoka methodology. The company has used this approach to quality control their chips and other products, ensuring they meet the highest standards. For companies that work in highly regulated industries, this is especially important.

  4. GE

    Multinational conglomerate GE has also been using Jidoka methodology for years. Across their vast array of businesses, they’ve implemented this approach to quality control. This has helped them ensure that their products meet the highest standards – whether they’re aircraft engines or medical devices.

Can You Use Jidoka for Knowledge Work?

Jidoka is a powerful quality control tool, but can it be used for knowledge work?

As the world moves toward more knowledge-based work, the answer is yes. Jidoka can be used to improve quality control in a variety of knowledge-based fields.

For example, in the field of marketing, Jidoka can be used to improve the quality of campaigns. Stopping and investigating defects can ensure that your campaigns are effective and meet your goals.

Jidoka can also be used in the field of software development. By using Jidoka to identify and fix defects, you can ensure that your software is of the highest quality.

In any knowledge-based field, Jidoka can be used to improve quality control. The key is knowing how to implement the four key elements of the methodology within any process you are utilizing.

Discover How Jidoka Can Improve Your Quality and Output

If you’re looking for a way to improve your quality control, Jidoka is an excellent option. This approach can be used in a variety of industries, and it has proven to be effective.

By automating the discovery and stopping of defects, you can ensure that your process is always running smoothly. And by investing in fixing problems and investigating their root causes, you can prevent them from happening again in the future.

Take the initiative to implement Jidoka in your business, and you’ll be well on your way to improving your quality control.

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