We have heard & talked a lot about KAIZEN and people involvement at level, to coach and empower them, develop leadership, etc. The benefits are that the operations become Faster, Better & Cost efficient and People becomes Engaged, Problem Identifiers & Problem Solvers.
All of these makes sense and is true but what is Jidoka? One term that goes along with Japanese manufacturing practices is jidoka. The Toyota Production System is often modelled as having two pillars, with one of the pillars being JIT and the other jidoka.
So what is Jidoka & how does it help?
Jidoka (Autonomation) is a method in which, equipment are designed in such a manner that it can, partially automate the manufacturing process as partial automation is typically much less expensive than full automation and to automatically stop when defects are detected.
The advantage of Jidoka is workers can monitor multiple work stations more frequently (reducing labor costs) and many quality issues can be detected immediately with the implementation of Jidoka. This way defects can be identified and caught early and workers don’t have to rely heavily on final inspection or testing. By catching defects early in the process, workers are closer to the actual process conditions that caused the defect and therefore closer to root cause. Workers can launch problem solving faster with a higher chance of getting to root cause since the process conditions wouldn’t have changed as much.
Therefore built-in quality is the essence of Jidoka. It is the true beginning of positive evolution. And it guarantees maximum product quality at all times.