What is Jidoka

What is Jidoka? What does Jidoka mean? | Leanscape


Jidoka is an integral part of Lean principles that focuses on optimizing the flow of production processes. It plays a crucial role in helping organizations become more efficient and productive by reducing waste, enhancing quality, and increasing customer satisfaction. Jidoka is based on the idea that any defect should be detected immediately so the process can be stopped until the root cause of the problem is identified and corrected. This helps eliminate wasted time, resources, and energy from running defective parts through a production line. We'll explore how Jidoka works in this blog post to give you a better understanding of its importance in Lean Manufacturing.

Jidoka – A short Introduction


To be able to deliver work in a continuous flow, you not only need to have the right balanced processes delivering exactly what the customer wants when they need it (JIT), but you also need to be able to produce everything to the right quality – each and every time.

If the quality does not meet what the downstream process wants, then the continuous flow will simply break. This will increase the resources needed to fix the issues, increase spending for additional material plus will lengthen the lead time.

Just In Time (JIT) and Jidoka form two essential pillars of any Lean value stream. In the article below, we look at what does Jidoka mean and how to leverage the core idea to drive up quality

What is Jidoka?


The term Jidoka was originally coined by Taiichi Ohno, who is credited with the establishment of the Toyota Production System.

The idea behind Jidoka is that machines should not be allowed to make mistakes because they are too expensive and time-consuming to fix. Instead, people should be able to catch errors as soon as possible so that these mistakes can be corrected before they cause any damage in the production process. This way, machinery stays productive and workers stay safe. 

But it goes beyond simple machinery.

We have to learn to build quality into our processes and design Lean processes based on right-first-time principles.

Building quality into our processes means not simply relying on perfectly trained individuals and teams who never make mistakes. Standard Operating Procedures may help people making errors, but it does not stop them.

We have to assume, just like in Murphy’s Law – that anything that can go wrong will go wrong … eventually. And by accepting this fact, the most important aspect of our processes is how well we design them to eliminate any potential errors from ever occurring.

What does Jidoka mean?


Lean is built on two fundamental principles: Jidoka and Just In Time.

The idea of Jidoka can be translated as “automation with a human touch”, referring to the central idea within the Toyota Production System that the machine must stop immediately as soon as any error or defect is detected. It’s about producing exactly what is wanted when it’s wanted, in the quantity and quality that is needed using a kanban system.

And when we discuss the 5th Lean Principle, this means we have to “Stop and Fix”. 

Lean is about stopping and fixing issues when they go wrong: quickly and consistently, every time. It is about creating the proper workplace setup, to ensure that when things go wrong, we can identify them quickly.

Principle of Kaizen Jidoka


At the heart of the Lean is the concept that if you spot an issue – stop and fix it. Letting an issue move forward without fixing will have a serious impact further down the process. 

By not fixing the problem as soon as it is identified increases the costs of fixing it later. It potentially allows the problem to get to the customer and kills causing even more damage to the business. And really importantly, in a culture of continuous improvement, we want to learn fast.

If the issue is not addressed immediately, we miss the opportunity to learn (kaizen) and when we finally do get around to fixing the issue, we might find we don’t just have one product that has failed but multiple products.

Taken to the extreme, in Toyota, the idea is that anyone could stop the car manufacturing line if they located a problem. In reality, it’s slightly different than this, but the concept sticks.

If you find an issue, stop, fix it and feed it back quickly and begin the kaizen approach to finding the right long term solutions. This links directly into Principle 14 – Creating the learning organisation.

We all learn by fast feedback, so try this and get back to the business of delivering better quality next time the task is done.

Jidoka is one of the two main pillars of the Toyota Production System


Jidoka is one of the key pillars of the Toyota Production System and the House of Lean. The other is the concept of JIT or Just in Time.

Basically, the whole principle of doing anything within Lean is one to do it when the customer wants it and not before and deliver exactly what the customer wants. The second pillar is always to ensure that everything we do is done the right first time and meets the customer’s quality requirements.

When you can deliver what the customer wants without errors then you will become the customer’s choice, and that customer experience will be your strategic advantage.

In Summary

Jidoka is a principle of automation used by Toyota in its manufacturing processes. It is based on the concept of “autonomation,” which encourages machines to detect abnormalities and stop production immediately when any abnormal conditions occur. This prevents small problems from growing into major ones and helps to maintain high product quality. The application of jidoka has helped Toyota become one of the most successful automotive companies in the world, setting a benchmark for automobile manufacturers around the globe.


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Reagan Pannell

Reagan Pannell

Reagan Pannell is a highly accomplished professional with 15 years of experience in building lean management programs for corporate companies. With his expertise in strategy execution, he has established himself as a trusted advisor for numerous organisations seeking to improve their operational efficiency.

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