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Continuous Improvement Lesson of the Day Sample

This sample is part of the “General Overview’ series of continuous improvement Lessons of the Day.

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Continuous Improvement Lesson of the Day
Right-Sized Doses of Lean Six Sigma from Velaction
General Overview Series

Notes from Jeff


The most common Jidoka definition is ‘autonomation.’ (The word is one of many Japanese terms that are common in Lean.) Lean Jidoka traces its roots back to the early 1900’s at Toyota in Japan-then a textile manufacturing company. Sakichi Toyoda developed a device that could detect broken threads in a loom and stop the machine from producing defective material. The concept of jidoka enabled companies to greatly increase the number of machines a single operator could run-with very little extra effort on the worker’s part! With jidoka, Lean becomes much easier for operators and much more profitable for companies.

The jidoka definition mentioned above (autonomation) is essentially automation with a human touch. But it has also come to mean more than that. It is about stopping whenever an abnormal condition is detected, fixing the defect, and then countermeasuring to prevent further occurrences. Many jidoka devices are combined with an andon, or signaling device, to alert the operator of the abnormal condition. The purpose of jidoka is to separate people from machines, so an operator can do more while the machine is running.

Jidoka is often one of the pillars of a company’s production system (the lean house). JIT (the other common pillar) and Jidoka work together to create manufacturing excellence. (Note: JIT and Jidoka are the pillars of the often copied Toyota Production System.)

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Jeff Hajek, MBA, is the Founder of Velaction Continuous Improvement, LLC, a company dedicated to making your job easier and more rewarding in a Lean environment.

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