Jidoka

Flickr ©Toby Oxborrow

The term Jidoka used in Toyota Production System can be defined as “Automation with a human touch”. It refers simply to the ability of humans or machines to detect an abnormal condition in materials, machines, or methods, and to prevent the abnormality from being passed on to the next process. Jidoka incorporates quality checks into every step of the production process by providing machines and operators the ability to detect when an abnormal condition has occurred and immediately stop work. This enables operations to build in quality at each process and to separate men and machines for more efficient work.

Through Jidoka you don’t just stop the process. You highlight the problem, correct it and then tackle root cause to prevent the problem ever happening again. So initially through a painful series of line stops you start to remove problems from the process, within a short period of time the number of line stops begin to reduce as problems are removed and productivity begins to improve as root causes of problems are eliminated.

Within companies such as Toyota, line stop is a way of life. If an operator detects a problem they pull a cord or push a button to stop the production line at the end of that production cycle. It lights up an Andon board which alerts the team leader or supervisor who will immediately rush over to help solve the problem. If it can be easily corrected then they do so and restart the line, otherwise they call in whatever support is required to solve the problem.

The implementation of Jidoka relies on a mix of cultural concepts and lean tools that are summarized below:

Develop a Jidoka Mindset – Staff should be trained to react to problems and to put in place quick fixes. The concept is to keep things running for as long as possible and work around problems as quickly as possible.

Empower staff to ‘stop the line’ – Develop a culture where people feel that they are able to raise a real issue- and that far from being penalized, they will actually be thanked for raising the issue.

Install andons – The aim is that andons quickly alert managerial and technical staff to a problem that arises so that they can get to the source of the problem and begin to investigate it.

Solve the root cause – Jidoka relies on the implementation of an immediate fix to stem the potential damage and on the longer-term fix that comes through root cause analysis.

Utilize standard work – Having implemented the changes it is vital to document what has been done and to carry out any training required on the new process.

Asprova’s ingenious features highlight the causes of problem immediately when a difficulty first occurs. Thus, it leads to improvements in the processes that build in quality by eliminating the root causes of defects. In this way, facts and findings acquired from Asprova are often used in conjunction with structured problem-solving tools.

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