Don’t you just hate when you make a purchase only to find that some of the items purchased are defective or missing something? Last week, I purchased a large pack of juice boxes for a family picnic and when we opened them up we found that over half of them were missing straws. Missing the straws while at home is one thing, but missing straws while away from home out on a picnic was another. Needless to say, the missing straws made the juice boxes quite inconvenient (and messy) to drink. This left me wondering if there was some sort of gap in the straw attaching process, and also how many other defective packages were sent out before the problem was finally spotted and fixed. Anyhow, I have one word regarding this situation: Jidoka.
What is Jidoka?
No, I have not made a spelling error. Jidoka is a real word and a real process. Jidoka is a form of “intelligent automation” which combines the automation of a self-monitoring machine paired with minimal human intervention. The purpose of Jidoka is to stop a machine or process immediately when a problem or abnormality is detected. A machine or process equipped with such technology is able to differentiate between acceptable, quality products and products that are abnormal. When a piece of output is identified as abnormal, the machine immediately stops so employees can investigate the problem before anymore waste or loss is created due to the malfunction.
Jidoka + Lean = Great Combination
Jidoka can benefit the concept of lean nicely, since both focus quite heavily on improving efficiency.
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- Save time – Jidoka saves time because one employee does not need to sit and observe all the output from one single machine constantly. With Jidoka, an employee focusing on quality control is able to monitor several machines at once, trusting that the machine will self-monitor the output and identify a defect on point.
- Save Money – Huge losses can come from situations where a machine creates a large output of abnormal or defective products. This can easily happen if an employee is not keeping an extremely close eye on product output when Jidoka is not employed. When Jidoka is utilized, waste is reduced, if not nearly eliminated since the machine will stop functioning immediately once a problem is identified.
- Increase Customer Satisfaction – A successful business is built upon a large repertoire of happy and satisfied customers. When customers purchase products that are not up to standard such as misshapen, not functional, or missing something (such as straws with the situation described earlier) they are not only disappointed but also probably a bit annoyed or even angry since they paid money for the item or product and it does not fulfill expectations.[/sws_green_box]
Process Improvement at its Best
Jidoka is a great way to achieve large productivity gains with the help of a self-monitoring machine. Process improvement is an ongoing endeavor within any facility. People will always thirst for better products, and processes to create such better products must also reflect this mindset and continuously improve as well.