I interviewed Riad Ardahji who discussed Demystifying the JIDOKA: Transforming Machines to be Autonomous, to Operate without Human Intervention.







Today we're speaking with Riad Ardahji. We're going to talk about Demystifying Jidoka, Transforming Machines to be Autonomous, and to Operate without Human Intervention. So, Riad, before we start, can you provide a brief background of yourself?


Hi Dustin, My name is Riad Ardahji. I have been in manufacturing for over 25 years (over half in Japanese companies) maximizing ROI, leading cultural change, developing engineering talents, mitigating risks, managing assets up to $60M, driving advanced technologies, and continuously challenging the status quo. Some of my former employers include: Zimmer Biomet, Toyota Boshoku, Leggett & Platt, Borg-Warner, Denso Corporation and General Motors/ Saturn plant.I am also an adjunct professor in Industrial & Manufacturing Engineering Department at Indiana Institute of Technology. Courses include: Simulation modeling, mfg. processes, and safety engineering.  Simply, my role as a change agent is to transform the company and leverage all resources to optimize and bring value to the organization — whether that's people, processes, materials, or methods.


Thank you. My first question is what is Jidoka?


Great question.Jidoka is one of the two pillars of the Toyota Production System (TPS/ Lean house). Unfortunately, this 2nd pillar of TPS is the least understood in the West. When discussed, there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding.  A lot of people, even some Japanese folks struggle with that, as a matter of fact. Its translation is simply “automation” in English, automation with a human touch. The “ji”, if we break it up into three portions, JI-DO-KA, is referring to the worker, to the output, “do” is the motion and the work done, and the “ka” is actually the action.


There is no one word for it. It's a combination, but it simply breaks down into“automation with a human touch.”

One of the most captivating aspects of TPS is Jidoka or also known as (autonomous control). It leverages people's capabilities, using their wisdom, and developing mechanisms to accomplish these things. In other words, a fundamental principle of TPS is to develop mechanisms to eliminate waste and at the same time enhance people's capabilities. Jidoka is a crucial element and is absolutely necessary to make Lean work.

Can you talk about why it's important?


Toyota started with Jidoka before they started with either SPC (Statistical Process Control) or DOE (Designs of Experiments). Having said that, many companies are still playing catch-up.


Both pillars of TPS (JIT and Jidoka) are key concepts for a highly efficient system of production. Jidoka concept transforms machines to become smarter by preventing defects from being passed on to next process. In addition, defects are detected and prevented automatically.  The Jidoka concept leverages the human intelligence by transferring the know-how to the automated machinery. Machines will then detect every single defective part and shut the line. This means there is no need for visual inspectors.  As multi-machine handling increases, the operators have more time to continuously improve their processes and solve problems.  By allowing one operator to operate several machines, the product cost is reduced as well.


The first Jidoka was integrated in the Type-G Toyoda Automatic Loom equipped with a new automatic stopping device. It was the first automatic loom with a non-stop shuttle-change motion. It was invented by Sakichi Toyoda in 1924 and was the start of Toyota we know today.Mr. Toyoda was successful in improving both productivity and work efficiency.Lean Transformation is incomplete without Jidoka. Many companies have implemented or are implementing LEAN. Their model is typically, the TPS Lean House. I believe many companies have done a good job implementing the foundation of TPS, the first steps of lean such as: Standard work, production leveling, visual management, stability of the production processes, the Toyota way philosophy, treating people with respect, and making problems visible. They also did a good job with the flow, which typically when people mention LEAN, the first thing that comes to their mind is continuous flow, Takt time, right product, right place, right time.


However, few companies were able to crossover to the second pillar and leverage the Jidoka concept, which is about building quality within the process and never passing on a defective product to the next process.It's about empowering the operator to pull the cord and shut the production line down. It's about the decoupling of the process between the machine and the people—removing people from the machine and making them autonomous, automated. It's about putting error-proofing devices (poka-yoke) in the process, to never pass a defect to next customer.


TPS is truly a thinking people system, not Toyota production system. That's the most appropriate definition. It's about people and creating the most robust system to satisfy the customer and provide value.


How can it be implemented effectively?


To implement Jidoka effectively, you need the following:

  1. Get Upper management buy-in and support
  2. Establish a cross-functional steering team in place
  3. Make sure Jidoka is embedded in your G&O and strategic plan
  4. Align teams with projects and goals.
  5. Have a team problem solving in place in each production area
  6. Promote a positive culture, employee empowerment and respect for people
  7. A quality system to collect defects and provide feedback to management to prioritize issues.
  8. Follow PDCA


You need SMEs that know the process and understand todays’ technological advances to rectify these problems and mitigate the risks. Engineers should keep asking "why," not just learning "how."  They need to solve the root causes of problems and put countermeasures. It’s important to solve these problems and figure out the most effective countermeasures so that operators don't have to deal with them every day like a whack-a-mole.

For example, if your process includes bottle filling and fluid level consistency is critical requirement, you have 2 options: 1) Do visual checks which is poor and inconsistent or use some type of technology (sensors).  One of the technologies is using beam sensors (few hundred dollars) that to detect the fluid levels and provide outputs to accept or reject products.


Jidoka is way beyond this solution. Jidoka goes beyond detection to address the root cause of the problem and to prevent re-occurrence. You can start with the 5-Why? Some of questions may include: Is this a measurement issue? Is the line clogged? Is this special or common cause? Is the dispensing unit functioning ok? Is it the viscosity of the fluid? There are a lot of solutions for this type of problem; however, we are looking for the simple, effective and inexpensive solutions.


I have another visible Jidoka example in CNC machining. Typically, people manually load and unload products while waiting on parts being machined. In addition, some companies use 1:1 ratio whereas one employee per machine. This leads to poor labor efficiency. In this situation, the operator is captive to one machine and does not have the time to solve problems or work on continuous improvement projects. This captive operator who has a ton of knowledge but only doing manual work, by loading and unloading parts. With Jidoka concept in place, you will have the opportunity to decouple the operator from the machine. You can do that by having a 6-axis robot to load and unload the product. Now you can remove the operator from the machine where he can oversee several machines or have more time to work on problems on the production floor. It is a smart investment with good ROI.


Did we cover all the points you wanted to make?


Yes, but I would like to add few points about Jidoka. It is one of the most challenging lean concepts and not a quick fix. It takes time and some effort. It's a great tool if done correctly by leveraging people and technology.


Finally, TaiichiOhno, who helped establish TPS and built the foundation for the Toyota spirit of “making things,” had some specific goals of Jidoka including:


  • Effective utilization of manpower
  • Top quality products
  • Reduction in equipment failure rate
  • High level of customer satisfaction
  • Lower costs (Internal, External, and Appraisal cost etc.)




Jidoka Google Hits 12-28-2016.JPGVisible Jidoka.JPG


About Riad (Ray) Ardahji






Riad (Ray) Ardahji


People | Product | Process | Innovating Cultures, leadership, and organizations to transform from Good to Great.


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