Jidoka — Manufacturing high-quality products

Automation with a human touch

The term jidoka used in the TPS (Toyota Production System) can be defined as "automation with a human touch." The word jidoka traces its roots to the invention of the automatic loom by Sakichi Toyoda, Founder of the Toyota Group. The automatic loom is a machine that spins thread for cloth and weaves textiles automatically.
Before automated devices were commonplace, back-strap looms, ground looms, and high-warp looms were used to manually weave cloth. In 1896, Sakichi Toyoda invented Japan's first self-powered loom called the "Toyoda Power Loom." Subsequently, he incorporated numerous revolutionary inventions into his looms, including the weft-breakage automatic stopping device (which automatically stopped the loom when a thread breakage was detected), the warp supply device and the automatic shuttle changer. Then, in 1924, Sakichi invented the world's first automatic loom, called the "Type-G Toyoda Automatic Loom (with non-stop shuttle-change motion)" which could change shuttles without stopping operation.
The Toyota term "jido" is applied to a machine with a built-in device for making judgments, whereas the regular Japanese term "jido" (automation) is simply applied to a machine that moves on its own. Jidoka refers to "automation with a human touch," as opposed to a machine that simply moves under the monitoring and supervision of an operator.
Since the loom stopped when a problem arose, no defective products were produced. This meant that a single operator could be put in charge of numerous looms, resulting in a tremendous improvement in productivity.

Type-G Toyoda Automatic Loom, the origin of jidoka

The Type-G Toyoda Automatic Loom, the world's first automatic loom with a non-stop shuttle-change motion, was invented by Sakichi Toyoda in 1924. This loom automatically stopped when it detected a problem such as thread breakage.

Concept of jidoka

Jidoka and Visual Control

Since equipment stops when a problem arises, a single operator can visually monitor and efficiently control many machines. As an important tool for this "visual control" or "problem visualization," Toyota plants use a problem display board system called "andon" that allows operators to identify problems in the production line with only a glance.

Visual Control using Andon

  • An operator communicating an abnormality
  • An andon problem display board that communicates abnormalities