Jidoka: Theory and Meaning explained

Jidoka - ToolsHero

Jidoka: this article explains Jidoka in a practical way. Other highlights include: Jidoka in relation to Toyota, Lean Manufacturing and the 5S method. After reading it, you will understand the basics of this powerful quality management tool. Enjoy reading!

What is Jidoka? The theory and background

What does Jidoka mean?

In Japanese, it means ‘building quality into the process’. It is sometimes referred to as autonomation, like an automation with human intelligence. This is a mixture of automation and autonomy. The automatic stop (Andon) went on to become well-known within this method.

Jidoka is a Lean manufacturing principle that ensures that quality is automatically built into a production process with machines and operators.

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It is mainly known from the Toyota Production System (TPS) and was developed by the Japanese industrial designer Shingeo Shingo, at the start of the 20th century.

With the help of this method, it is possible to immediately identify and correct deviations in the production process when an abnormal condition is identified.

This improves the cycle time of the production process. When something goes wrong in the automation process, this will lead to a build-up of faulty production. Jidoka pauses the production process as soon as an error arises, so there will not be a build-up of errors.

Both the employee and the machine have the autonomy to pause a production process when a defect has been signaled.

This principle is one of the pillars of the TPS, alongside Just-in-Time (JIT) en Poka Yoke. These tools all share the same objective: continuous improvement of the production processes within an organization.

Jidoka and Toyota

The oldest and best known example of this principle is the automated weaving machine by Japanese inventor Sakichi Toyoda. In 1896, he developed a special mechanism that would automatically stop work with the weaving machine in Toyota Group plants if the thread broke. He invented a textile loom.

This allowed him to prevent multiple errors to be passed on. With a warning signal, also known as Andon, it became clear to the employees that they were to stop.

This working method was then further developed by car manufacturer Toyota, and included in their production system.

Free of defects in Lean Manufacturing

The main goal of this principle is to produce free of defects and fixing the issues. This is the case for every step in the production process. The production process will be paused manually or automatically in the case of a defect, by means of an Andon.

The warning that something is going wrong can for example be given by a red light that switches on or a sound signal. A deviating situation has a defective product as a result. This will often lead to extra work further on in the production process.

Therefore, errors in the semi-finished products need to be prevented early on, so that these can continue into the production process without any problems.

This way of producing free of defects is an important part of Lean; defects of course lead to extra work and repair work during the production process. By immediately pausing the process, the cause of the defect can be detected and solved immediately.

Steps in the method 5S

Not only the quality, but also the productivity will be increased. Jidoka goes further than a simple machine pause and is divided in four simple, primary steps:

  1. detection of occurring deviation
  2. the production stop
  3. execution of adaptations, corrections or repair work
  4. investigation of the root cause of the defect

Step 1 and 2

These two steps can be automated. First, the lead time of the phases in the production process need to be determined. In the case of possible deviations, the process needs to be stopped. This doesn’t mean that this is the case for the entire production. This depends on the root cause and the effects that a deviation brings.

A stop, indicated by Andon, gives a clear signal. This way, it is clear to all parties involved that some kind of intervention is necessary. Therefore, it is very important that all employees know of the deviation, so that the employee who observed it isn’t independently correcting the deviation.

It must never become a routine process; registration of arising defects should always happen within Jidoka.

Step 3 and 4

Both the execution of adaptations (quick fix) and the investigation into the causes, can not be automised. Human intervention is necessary for this. Diagnosing and analysing the root cause requires a lot of time and has to be done thoroughly. As soon as the deviation has been restored, the production can continue. This limits the damage and the chance of repetition of the defect is small.

The responsibility of steps 3 and 4 mainly lies with the employees on the shop floor itself; they know all the facets of the production process from start to finish and are therefore able to quickly find a good solution to the defect.

However, it is important that deviations within the production system need to be passed on to all involved parties. After repair work, the root cause needs to be discovered. Only then can a definitive measures be taken, so that repetition is excluded.

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It’s Your Turn

What do you think? Is this principle applicable in your personal or professional environment? Do you recognize the practical explanation or do you have more suggestions? What are your success factors for good and lean process management?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Baudin, M. (2007). Working with machines: the nuts and bolts of lean operations with jidoka. CRC Press.
  2. Berk, E., & Toy, A. Ö. (2009). Quality control chart design under Jidoka. Naval Research Logistics (NRL), 56(5), 465-477.
  3. Subramaniam, S. K., Husin, S. H., Singh, R. S. S., & Hamidon, A. H. (2009). Production monitoring system for monitoring the industrial shop floor performance. International journal of systems applications, engineering & development, 3(1), 28-35.

How to cite this article:
Mulder, P. (2018). Jidoka. Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero: https://www.toolshero.com/quality-management/jidoka/

Original publication date: 01/05/2018 | Last update: 08/31/2023

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Patty Mulder
Article by:

Patty Mulder

Patty Mulder is an Dutch expert on Management Skills, Personal Effectiveness and Business Communication. She is also a Content writer, Business Coach and Company Trainer and lives in the Netherlands (Europe).
Note: all her articles are written in Dutch and we translated her articles to English!


One response to “Jidoka: Theory and Meaning explained”

  1. Raghavan L says:

    excellent article

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