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Jidoka is one of the key terms commonly used in lean management, and widely regarded as one of the pillars of the Toyota Production System, the other being Just-in-Time (JIT). Jidoka (sometimes written as jidouka or jidohka) is a Japanese word crafted by Toyota. The original word was 自動化 (pronounced jidōka with a long “o”) and simply means automation.

Where, 

  • 自 for self, oneself.
  • 動 for motion, change, confusion.
  • 化 for the action of making something.



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What Is Jidoka?

Jidoka could be defined as an automatic stop of the process in case of deviation, multi-machine handling with semi-automated machines, partial automation, or the automation of dangerous, demanding, and dirty work. When this process stops, the next course of action would be to try to eliminate the reason for the stop.

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When to stop the process

Stopping a running process in case of problem is essential for a good manufacturing/production system. Jidoka is the concept of stopping the process automatically if there are deviations. Such stops can be for a multitude of reasons, which include quality concern.

  • Quality Issues

Quality issue is one of the main reasons to stop a process. Continuing an out-of-specification process down the value stream can result in a lot of problems including adding values to a defective product that will eventually be thrown out (waste); hence stopping the process early on reduces the follow-up costs of defects and allows for an easier fixing of the problem.

  • Process Issues

Issues may also arise with the process that may not lead to quality problems, or at least not immediately. This is another reason why the process may need to be stopped. For instance, if a machine is overheating, it should be stopped and cause of overheating investigated. Even if the quality of the parts is still within specification, the machine may eventually lead to defective parts, or to a machine breakdown, or – worst of all – to an injury, which are greater losses.

  • Material Supply Issues

A process may also stop, although with no impact on quality during a fill up of material supplied for the process or set up of a new part. This can also be seen as an abnormality, since the process is not working normally, but rather being prepared.

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Automate!

The concept of “stop the process if there are problems” is something that should happen automatically. Placing a human to watch over the machine on a constant basis is demanding and prone to error. For instance, manually inspecting every part for even one type of quality defect could get the eyes blurry rather quickly. It does not necessarily prevent fast-paced defects from occasionally occurring. Automatically stopping the process is the heart of jidoka, in order to fix the issue – be it quality, maintenance, material etc. The fix does not necessarily have to be permanent.



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About the Author

Adebayo is a thought leader in continuous process improvement and manufacturing excellence. He is a Certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt (CSSMBB) Professional and Management Systems Lead Auditor (ISO 9001, 45001, ISO 22000/FSSC 22000 etc.) with strong experience leading various continuous improvement initiative in top manufacturing organizations. 

You can reach him here.

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