Jidoka At GE And Amazon | Marc Onetto | Planet Lean

“[…]The principle of Jidoka applies everywhere, especially if we come down to its fundamental intent: preventing bad quality from going down the line and impacting the customer, understanding the causes of a problem as it happens, and giving the employee the authority (and autonomy) to stop the line when an issue occurs.”

Sourced Planet Lean

Michel Baudin‘s comments: The experience of an executive like Marc Onetto is always a good read. What he recounts, however, has everything to do with the TPS approach to quality and nothing to do with Jidoka. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate its value. I have seen plants where assembly work is continued on units known to be defective, with a repair area to fix them at the end. I have heard managers justify this practice with the mistaken assumption that it allowed them to ship faster and I have seen the improvements that result from stopping it, in line with what Onetto describes.

But we shouldn’t forget that Jidoka is not about employee empowerment but about automation. Regardless of whether it’s translated as “automation with a human touch” or “autonomation,” it’s still a form of automation. Onetto recounts being made to watch Sakichi Toyoda’s Type G loom stopping when threads broke but that’s not all it did. It also had automatic shuttle change, which solved the problem of what to do when shuttles run out of yarn that had bedeviled loom engineers for decades.

See Jidoka isn’t just about “stop and fix”, Jidoka versus automation, or check out Working with Machines

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3 comments on “Jidoka At GE And Amazon | Marc Onetto | Planet Lean

  1. Shouldn’t we define Jidoka broader than “automation” or “autonomation”? For example any device or methodology that “prevents defects from being reproduced”, that ensures “quality at the source” – or are we talking about difference concepts here?

    • What you are suggesting is what has actually happened in the Lean community and it actually reduces Jidoka rather than broadens it. The actual Jidoka includes concepts of how humans should interact with machines in production and, for example in machining, a 7-step method for migrating from a fully manual to a fully automatic system:
      1. Mechanization
      2. Automatic feed
      3. Automatic stop and return to start position
      4. Automatic unloading
      5. Automatic loading
      6. Automatic transportation
      7. Self-diagnosis

      This is an extremely useful guideline, and doing this in the wrong sequence is the cause of the failure of many automation projects. Once all the machines in a cell are at level 4 — automatic unloading — you can have a chaku-chaku line.

      And there is another reason: words have meaning. Jidoka is the Japanese word for automation. Outside Toyota, it’s spelled 自動化, literally meaning “transformation into something that moves by itself.” At Toyota, it’s pronounced the same but spelled 自働化, or “transformation into something that works by itself.”

      Defect prevention is a different subject, part of Lean Quality. It intersects with Jidoka but it’s not all of Jidoka, and it includes manual processes that are not part of Jidoka.

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