What is Jidoka and Just in Time | Detailed guide

What is Jidoka and Just in Time _ Detailed guide

Two main concepts of the Toyota Production System: Jidoka and Just in Time.

The Toyota production system is the production system that systematises the way of thinking and the management technique that improves a company’s competitiveness. It is a philosophy of improving competitiveness as a company.

The Toyota production system is grounded by the two pillars of its two main concepts, Jidoka and Just in Time (JIT).

Having an idea about the concept of Jidoka and the concept of Just in Time will make it easy to understand the philosophy of the Toyota Production System as well as Lean management.

What is the Jidoka concept?


What is the Jidoka concept

What is meant by the word “Jidoka”?

The most common translation of Jidoka is autonomation. It is Japanese in origin, as many specialised words in Lean. Even though Jidoka is pronounced as the Japanese word for automation, it is not written in the same way. Instead, the ‘Humane’ character has been added. Therefore, the meaning has also changed from Automation to Automation with the human touch or autonomation.

The term traces its roots back to the early 1990s at Toyota motor corporation, which was then a textile manufacturing company. Sakichi Toyoda, an inventor and the founder of Toyota, developed a device that could detect broken threads in a loom and stops the machine from producing defective materials. Before the invention of Sakichi Toyoda, workers had to keep an eye on every machine constantly because looms continued to make defective fabrics when a thread broke.

 This concept in which intelligence was added to machines enabled companies to greatly increase the number of machines a single operator could run, and it was very little extra effort on the workers’ part. This jidoka concept makes production easier for operators and more profitable for companies.

The concept of Jidoka.

The definition of Jidoka is Automation with the human touch, but it has a further meaning than just automation with human touch or autonomation. It is about stopping whenever an abnormal condition is detected, then fixing the defect, and lastly, encountering measuring to prevent future occurrences.  

Taichi Ohno said, “No problem discovered when stopping the line should wait longer than tomorrow morning to be fixed.”

If we simply put together what Taichi Ohno said, he meant that all the problems you identify are opportunities to improve the manufacturing process. So do not squander those opportunities through inactivity.

Basic steps of Jidoka.

There are five basic steps in this concept of Jidoka. They are as below:

  • The machine detects abnormal conditions.

All the tools and required devices in the production should be combined with a signalling device to alert the operator in charge about the abnormal condition. If not, a device should be installed with a device or system capable of detecting errors and mistakes. Those mistakes/ abnormalities include machine failures, product defects, and raw materials errors.

  • The machine stops itself.

After defecting the abnormality, whether it is a machine failure, product defect, or an error in raw materials, the process should be able to stop automatically. That is to take immediate action without causing any more damage or any kind of waste in the manufacturing process. Furthermore, with the capability of the machines to cease automatically upon detecting an abnormality, the operators working in the same process should also have the chance and the ability to stop the manufacturing process manually if they notice any abnormalities.

  • Implementing a stopgap

The concept of Jidoka demands more than just detecting an abnormal condition, error, or mistake and stopping the whole process of production. In fact, it also needs you to implement stopgaps to get the process of production to work again. A Stopgap is a temporary solution that can be applied to deal with the situation.

  • Identifying the root cause

Identifying the root cause is a vital step to finding a solution as well as preventing that from happening again in the future. Therefore, when the machines automatically stop production from continuing upon detecting an abnormal condition or when operators manually stop the process upon noticing an error, the operators in charge should evaluate the whole scenario and find the root causes for the current situation. The evaluation should be carried out as soon as possible, and should come to a decision on whether to continue halting the production or resume it.

  • Providing solutions

After evaluating the issues and the abnormal condition, solutions and the necessary actions should be implemented to fix the problem. After implementing the solutions made, production can resume and continue the manufacturing process. It is the responsibility of the management to take action to prevent the recurrence of the same abnormal condition. They should enforce strong solutions that are permanent to ensure the recurrence.

The basic steps to implement the concept of Jidoka.

A company-wide paradigm shift is needed to implement the concept of Jidoka. That includes ignoring apparently minor problems in order to meet deadlines to taking responsibility for quality assurance at the source. Wherever a company falls on this spectrum, it reminds us of the fact that the core of jidoka is the human being. Moreover, the people working alongside machines for the further betterment of the overall process of production are the key to a successful implementation of the concept of Jidoka.

The followings are the three basic steps to implement the concept of Jidoka in your business.

  • Ensuring commitment from the higher level of the hierarchy.

The first step to implementing the concept of Jidoka in your business is to ensure commitment from the higher level of the hierarchy about this. This concept of Jidoka is often neglected in comparison to the other main concept of the Toyota Production System, Just In Time (JIT). The higher level of the hierarchy, which is probably the management of the company, should regard Jidoka the same way they regard Just In Time (JIT). After it gets the commitment it deserves, the organisation should come up with a clear definition of what to mean in the company. It should also be communicated thoroughly at every level of the hierarchy of the organisation.  

  • Administrating assessments

Conducting Jidoka assessments and checklists would help to properly implement the concept of Jidoka in the processes of your company. When doing Jidoka assessments, you will be able to determine the specific requirements needed to implement the concept of Jidoka. Not only that, conducting those assessments with the stakeholders of your company will give you an idea about their perspectives and their demands. 

Administrating assessments with the relevant stakeholders will help you to adapt to their conditions and demand as soon as possible, and you can even document those demands and requirements in detail. Moreover, this also helps to establish innovation processes, evaluations, and organisational learning that are included in the improvement system of the Jidoka performance.

  • Practically applying the concept of Jidoka.

After conducting the assessments and completing the implementation of the concept of Jidoka, the management should create and plan a Jidoka project. Having installed devices that have the ability to detect any kind of abnormal conditions or errors will make the process run smoothly and will efficiently alert the operators when it detects any abnormality. Before implementing this concept of Jidoka, operators used to restart the machines when it gets ceased in the middle of the manufacturing process. But by practically applying Jidoka, operators can sustainably deal with the issues and even take countermeasures to avoid a recurrence of that abnormal condition.

The followings are some of the many examples of applying the concept of Jidoka.

Toyoda Automatic Loom Type G is a popular example of applying the concept of Jidoka. It was invented by Saichi Toyoda in 1925. This loom was able to run without any supervision, and it was also able to detect abnormal conditions that could shut down automatically. It also had the nonstop shuttle change motion feature, which automatically supplies the materials to the machine without any reduction of the speed while the manufacturing process is happening.

Another example could be Washing machines. They automatically shut themselves down if they get out of balance or if the lid of the washing machine is not closed. Printing machines also stop the process of printing if there are any abnormalities, such as papers getting jammed. They immediately detect the problem and cease the function. Plus, it further alerts the operator about the issue so that it gets fixed within no time. This undoubtedly helps to avoid the potential damage to the printer as well as to the quality of the expected outcome.

Benefits of the concept of Jidoka

The following are major benefits of the many benefits of implementing the concept of Jidoka in your business.

  • Defective products are not produced in the process

The main purpose of the concept of Jidoka is to detect abnormal conditions and cease the manufacturing process immediately. That helps to produce defect-free products all the time.

  • Helps to avoid the equipment/ tool breakdown

Stopping the machines upon detection of an abnormal condition helps to avoid the possible damages that could happen to all kinds of equipment used in the process.

  • Helps to maintain the quality of the products

In businesses that have implemented the concept of Jidoka, the machines used in the manufacturing processes have installed devices that can detect defects and abnormalities; they produce only defect-free products. Therefore, the quality of the products is automatically maintained.

  • Provide opportunities to improve the overall process

As Taichi Ohno said that “No problem discovered when stopping the line should wait longer than tomorrow morning to be fixed”. Detecting problems give the opportunity to change the process for the betterment of the overall production.

  • Helps to reduce all types of waste in the process

Wastes such as defects, over-production, waiting, inventory, and extra processing that includes in the 8 wastes of Lean manufacturing can be easily reduced by applying this concept of Jidoka.

  1. Encourage continuous improvement
  2. Empowers frontline workers
  3. Helps to improve the productivity of the production

What is the Just in Time (JIT) concept? 


What is the Just in Time (JIT) concept

Although stocking up on your products can allow you to meet the demands of your customers anytime they need them, it will also require a larger investment and bigger storage space and will run the risk of theft, obsolescence, or spoilage, which could entail huge costs. Therefore, inventory management is a crucial part of almost every business. It can make or break the firm’s overall operation. Just in Time, or JIT, is an inventory management method in which goods are received only as needed from suppliers. The main objective of this concept of Just in Time is to reduce inventory-holding costs and increase inventory turnover.

Origin of the concept of Just in Time

The concept of Just in Time is a Japanese management philosophy that has been applied in practice since the early 1970s in many Japanese manufacturing companies. It was first developed and perfected within the Toyota manufacturing plants by Taiichi Ohno, who is frequently referred to as the father of Just in Time. The beginnings of this management system are rooted in the historical situation that Toyota faced after World War 2. 

Kiichiro Toyoda, the president of Toyota, said to catch up with America in three years. Otherwise, the automobile industry of Japan will not survive. At that time, one American car worker produced approximately nine times as much as a Japanese car worker. Upon further examination, Taiichi Ohno found that American manufacturers made great use of the economic order quantities or EOQ. This means that they make a lot or a batch of an item. Such as a particular model of a car or a particular component before switching to a new item. They also made use of Economic Order Quantities in terms of ordering and stocking many parts needed to assemble a car. 

Ohno felt that such methods would not work in Toyota at that time. Because Japan’s total domestic demand was low, and the Japanese marketplace demanded the production of small quantities of many different models. Accordingly, Ohno devised the concept of Just in Time to meet customer demand, reduce inventory and eliminate waste.

 As time passed, the system of Just in Time started to become more popular. After the oil crisis in 1973, other Japanese companies started to take note of the success of Toyota and the concept of Just in Time became more widely adopted in Japan. The Just in Time techniques spread to the United States in the late 1970s and 1980s. But due to inconsistencies in implementation and a less mature grasp of the human and cultural elements of the Toyota Production System, western companies initially experienced limited success. In 1991 James Womack, a highly regarded researcher and authority on systems engineering at MIT, published his book “the machine that changed the world” and made the Just in Time plus Toyota production system concept more accessible to United States companies which led to the widespread adoption of Just in Time techniques and lean manufacturing philosophies thereafter in the United States.

The followings are some of the many examples of applying the concept of Just in Time.

Besides the automotive industry, companies and many other industries have also implemented the concept of Just in Time.

  • The apparel industry

Nike is an American multinational corporation that designs, develops, manufactures, and does worldwide marketing and sales of footwear, sports equipment, accessories, and many more. Nike implemented a just-in-time delivery system to improve their disconnect production facilities across southeast Asia. The goal was to apply lean inventory techniques and Just in Time production. Since then, studies show that the company reduced lead times by 40% and increased productivity by 20%. Moreover, new model introductions are 30% faster.

  • The Retail industry

Retailer Zara is a leading international apparel retailer headquartered in Spain. Zara specializes in fast fashion, and its products include clothing, accessories, shoes, swimwear, beauty, and perfumes. It enjoys the benefits of just-in-time delivery to keep sales and productions aligned geographically to ensure each store only receives the inventory they need. This allows for less overstock of products within the store and room for newer clothing items. Therefore, with the help of the concept of Just in Time, Zara can respond quickly to the changing fashion markets easier in the era of fast fashion.

  • The Technology industry

Dell is an American multinational computer technology company that develops, sells, repairs, and supports computers and related products and services. In the 1980s, when Dell started selling directly to consumers, they only placed orders for parts as customers made purchases rather than stock a large warehouse full of pre-assembled computers. Therefore, applying the concept of Just in Time, Dell reduced their costs and cut lead times and eventually became a well-known name in their industry.

  • The Fast food industry

Burger king franchise is an American multinational fast-food restaurant chain of Hamburger. Burger King franchises use the principles of just-in-time delivery every day in their kitchen. Although they keep stock of the ingredients they need, food is only cooked when ordered. Here, in this case, the concept of Just in Time delivery is applied to food ordering, where food is kept fresh, and waste is reduced.

Benefits of the concept of Just in Time

The followings are the five major benefits of the numerous benefits of implementing the concept of Just in Time in your business.

  • Reduction of inventory waste

The Just in Time strategy reduces overproduction which happens when the supply of an item in the market exceeds the demand and leads to an accumulation of unsalable inventories. These unsellable products turn into dead inventory stock, which increases waste and consumes inventory space. Therefore, this concept helps to reduce inventory waste in the process.

  • Helps to minimise warehouse holding costs

Warehousing is expensive, and excess inventory can double your holding costs. In the Just in Time system, the warehouse holding costs are kept to a minimum because you order only when your customer places an order. Therefore, your product is already sold before it reaches you. So, there is no reason to store your items for long, and it minimises the holding costs of the warehouse.

  • Provide the manufacturer with more control.

In the Just in Time model, the manufacturer has complete control over the manufacturing process, which works on a demand pool basis. As a result, they can respond to customers’ requirements by quickly increasing the production of an in-demand product and reducing the production of less demanding items. This makes the concept of Just in Time flexible and able to cater to the changing market needs.

  • Local sourcing is possible.

Since the concept of Just in Time requires you to start manufacturing only when an order is placed, you need to source your raw materials locally, as they will be delivered to your unit much earlier. Also, local sourcing reduces the transportation time and cost which is involved. This, in turn, provides the need for many complementary businesses to run in parallel. Thereby improving the employment rates in that particular demographic.

  • Requires only smaller investments

The concept of Just in Time uses the correct first-time concept, whose meaning is to carry out the activities right the first time when it’s done. Thereby it reduces the inspection and rework costs. This requires less amount of investment for the company. Moreover, less money is needed to reinvest for rectifying errors, and more profit is generated out of selling an item.

Final Note

The house of the Toyota Production System will fall down without these two main pillars, Jidoka and Just in Time concepts. Implementing both of these concepts in your business might be the best decision you take for the success of your business.

If you want to learn about these concepts of Toyota Production System or Lean management and to get a respected professional credential that validates your knowledge and ability to practically apply these concepts, check out globally recognised Lean certifications offered by Center for Lean Excellence.

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