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Autonomation vs Automation, Jidoka

Vishwadeep Khatri



Automation - use of technology to enable machines / systems / processes do repeatable and mundane tasks without human involvement. Primary focus is on the production / process functions

Autonomation/Jidoka - Intelligent Automation or Automation with a Human Touch. It is one of the main tenets of Toyota Production System. Primary focus is on the supervisory function. Autonomation enables the machine to stop in case it detects an anomaly. This prevents production of defective products and eliminates over production. At Toyota, this is a four step process
1. Machine identifies the anomaly
2. Machine stops working
3. Fix/correct the anomaly
4. Identify the root cause and correct it


An application oriented question on the topic along with responses can be seen below. The best answer was provided by Venugopal R on 26th September 2017. 




Q 15. Before they got into the automotive business, the founders of Toyota built competitive edge due to the excellent usage of Jidoka (also called autonomation) at their workplace. Explain the term Jidoka in modern day context with examples that bring out the difference between automation and autonomation.  


Note for website visitors - Two questions are asked every week on this platform. One on Tuesday and the other on Friday.

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Autonomation (or Jidoka)

Autonomation (or Jidoka) is referred to as “Automation with a human touch”. Autonomation refers to automation of those tasks that are mundane or important from safety or Quality point of view, but still requires human attention. The idea is to minimize the operator intervention. A problem gets automatically detected, stops the machine (or process) and alerts the operator to take action. The expectation is that the action will involve not just restoring the process, but to also perform the root cause analysis. This helps to prevent a Quality or Safety problem, at the same time improve productivity with less human employment.


Autonomation vs Automation

Shigeo Shingo says there are 23 stages between fully manual process and full automated process. A fully automated machine must be able to detect and correct their own operating problems which may always not be cost effective. However, a good amount of the automation benefits can be availed by autonomation at a much lower cost. 


Autonomation in modern day context

  1. Apart from the production floor, Jikoda principle is being used on many applications in the modern day context. A few day-to-day examples are as below:
  2. When you log in to a bank account, if you repeatedly enter the login details wrongly, it will get locked.
  3. The electrical safe trip used in our homes trip, if they sense excess flow of current, thus providing safety and protection of equipment.
  4. An elevator will not move if the load exceeds the limit; it will also give a warning beep.
  5. In the piped domestic gas supply systems, in case of leaks, excess flow is sensed and the valve will close supply to the suspected line.
  6. In the event of drop in cabin pressure in the airplane, the oxygen masks will automatically drop down for the passenger’s use.


In all the above examples, even though an automatic sensing and protective action happens, it has to be attended by a human and also take up necessary corrective action as applicable.

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Jidoka is providing a mechanism whereby a process detects when an abnormal condition has occurred and immediately stops work. It gives equipment the ability to distinguish good parts from bad autonomously, without being monitored by an operator. This eliminates the need for operators to continuously watch machines. Thus, one operator can handle several machines, often termed multi-process handling. and leads to large productivity gains. Jidoka highlights the causes of problems because work stops immediately when a problem first occurs.


Automation is the use of technology and other control systems to operate equipment and processes without any human intervention. The entire process logic is programmed into special type of controllers called Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC) and it controls the process equipment such as motors, valves, pumps and so on. The operators have a real-time view of the process via a graphical user interface (GUI) system called Human Machine Interface (HMI). Process data is continuously captured via various sensors and instrumentation and communicated to the PLC for the logic to function and is also displayed in the HMI.


In today’s world, Automation has gone to the next level where the automated process has built-in intelligence. In practice, it means that an automated process is sufficiently "aware" of itself so that it will:

  • Detect process malfunctions or product defects
  • Stop itself
  • Alert the operator

This combination of Automation and Intelligence is denoted by Autonomation. The inclusion of intelligence can be using Hardware or Software.


Example 1 (Hardware): In a beverage bottling line while the bottle forming from pellets can be an automated process an ultrasonic crack detecting equipment is used to detect any defective bottles and immediately reject it. Similarly, the bottle filling, corking, and labelling process would be an automated process. Once labelled a Camera/laser equipment is used if the labelling is proper or if there are any defects.


Example 2 (Software): Permissive and Interlocks are programmed in the automated system to detect problems. If some pre-requisite conditions are not met or an interlock condition is encountered then the logic halts execution and systems goes back to a safe state, while creating an alarm message for the operator. 


Permissive could be something like a drain valve needs to be open before the drain motor can run. So if the operator (in manual mode) /logic (in automatic mode) starts the drain motor without opening the valve then system alerts the user. If the drain motor is running the drain valve would not be allowed to close. This is an interlock.


Example 3 (Software): Implementation of Alarm Management and Alarm Severity in Automation systems. Modern automation systems provide sophisticated Alarm management systems with customizable Alarm severity. A temperature/ pressure/ flow that is below or above configurable limits (High-High, High, Low, Low-Low limits) can trigger alarms of different severity (or priority). Based on the severity the alarms can be programmed to perform various actions ranging from – information only to system shutdown.


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Technology by which process or procedure is performed without human assistance

Intelligent automation or automation with Human assistance (supervisory). It is a process of detecting automation errors


1.       Cost savings

2.       Improve the quality (Accuracy & precision)

1.       To detect product defects or process malfunction

2.       Stop the process

3.       Fix or correct the immediate condition

4.       Investigate the root cause & fix it before starting


To produce a sheet metal part (multistage operation).

1.       Cut the part to right size

2.       Pick and place the part in next station

3.       Bend it to the right dimensions

4.       Transfer the finished part to conveyor to assemble to make a final product

Before step 04, if a camera is fixed to check for the critical dimensions & give an error feed back to the operator & stops the production to root cause the problem fix it




Autonomation (Jidoka) helps in:

  • Improves the speed of detecting defects
  • Reduces costs by reducing damage to work-in-progress and equipment, and by preventing further processing on flawed work-in-progress
  • Improves operator morale, particularly if the operator is trained to resolve problems (rather than simply calling for a technician)
  • May reduce direct labor costs by permitting one worker to "supervise" several machines
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Autonomation is automation with a human touch; but what does that really mean and where has it come from?

Sakichi Toyoda invented a loom in 1896 that not  only operated automatically but also stopped when any of the threads broke, this simple idea revolutionized the industry as instead of there being a requirement for an operator having to sit beside each and every machine waiting and searching for a problem, one operator could now watch several machines and just take action when a problem occurred thus increasing productivity and quality.

It is said that the later sale of this technology and the patent to a UK textile company provided the cash that the Toyoda family required to start their new business Toyota Cars.

Autonomation therefore is not full scale automation, it automates the tasks that operators would find boring, repetitive or unsafe but retains human beings to look after the process, often loading the machines and monitoring for abnormalities highlighted by the machines.                               Autonomation Improves Productivity

Autonomation is the strategy that Toyota uses for its machines, rather than investing in huge monolith machines that can do everything but take forever to set up and require to run huge batches they invest in small machines that do specific tasks that humans would find difficult or repetitive and use autonomation principles to ensure that the operator only has to interrupt the cycle if something goes wrong. This increase productivity and reduces costs considerably as now an operator can monitor several machines on an exception basis and only has to take action if something goes wrong.

In addition to autonomation they also developed the idea of mistake proofing known as PokaYoke which seeks to either prevent the possibility of creating a defect or in highlighting if one has been created.

Automation & JIDOKA

Autonomation is part of Jidoka, jidoka being a simple set of rules that were inspired by Toyoda’s first loom;

  1. Discover an abnormality
  2. STOP
  3. Fix the immediate problem
  4. Investigate and correct root cause


Jidoka covers both the whole process as well as individual machines and requires that operators who spot an abnormality stop the process in just the same way that autonomation has the machine stop when something is incorrect.

The important thing however is not to just stop, autonomation without the follow through of the remaining Jidoka principles just results in machines that keep stopping; we have to fix the problem and remove the root cause.

This requires operators to be trained in simple problem solving techniques and to be empowered to solve problems along with their team leaders and supervisors thus ensuring that we continually improve our processes to remove all quality problems improving product quality and our productivity.                                                                                   EXAMPLE                                                                         


The picture to the left is a simple coil feeder that provides a continuous supply of steel sheet to an automated press stamping out components, without any form of autonomation sensor an operator would have to watch this to ensure that the tension was correct and that the steel has not run out. Simple sensors will alert the operator if any problems occur and stop the press to prevent defects being produced or even damage to the press. This frees the operator to conduct other work and improves productivity and improves quality.

The stamping press feeds components via a small slide to load the next machine in the process, if that next machine stops for some reason a senor on the slide will register the build up of additional components on the slide and stop the stamping press to prevent overproduction of parts which would overflow the slide and potentially cause jams and expensive damage.

Some devices are also known as Poka Yoke devices or mistake proofing; these are simple ideas that prevent the creation of defects and are very much part of autonomation. Examples are things like sensors that register when all holding clamps on a fixture are fully closed so that you know all components are loaded correctly. Shaped fixtures that will only accept the correct orientation of components, pins in fixtures that mate with holes in components preventing you from fitting the wrong components are all simple examples of Poka Yoke.

Other examples cover simple devices that measure the number of fasteners that are tightened and the torques that are tightened, if the correct torque is not reached or not enough fasteners are tightened you cannot proceed onto the next process highlighting the defect.

The use of autonomation can automate mundane tasks while keeping oversight, reducing errors and the cost of shipping returns.

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The First Jidoka

The automatic loom, invented by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota, in the year 1902, can be considered as the first Jidoka example. In this innovation, if threads ran out or broke, the loom process was stopped automatically and immediately.
In the early days of assembly line mass production, work cycles were watched over by a human operators. As competition increased, Toyota brought about a significant change in this process by automating machine cycles so that human operators were free to perform other tasks. The Toyota Production System has many tools for efficient products and services.

Developed over the years, these tools aim at reducing human effort and automating machines to increase productivity. Jidoka is one such tool without which efficient manufacturing would practically be impossible, as of today. The article below explains all about the Jidoka process.

The Concept of Autonomation

To begin with, understand that autonomation and automation are different from each other.
According to the definition of autonomation, it is a 'self-working' or 'self-controlled' process. It is a feature that contributes to the Jidoka process.
Automation is the process where the work is still being watched by an operator, where errors may still be apparent, and detection and correction take a longer period.
Autonomation resolves two main points. Firstly, it reduces human interference, and secondly, it prevents processes from making errors. This has been enlisted below.

Jidoka process

Ordinarily, when a defect occurs, a worker detects it and later reports the problem.
Autonomation enables the machine to stop the cycle when a defective piece is encountered.


If all the processed parts or components are not picked up at the end of the cycle, the machine might face problems, and the process might halt, and it would take a while before the worker realizes that the process has been interrupted because of a minor error.
In case of autonomation, if the previous piece has not been picked up during ejection, the machine gives a signal or stops the cycle all together.

An Introduction to Jidoka

The Evolution towards Jidoka
Jidoka can be simply defined as 'humanized automation'. Autonomation is just another term for Jidoka.
It is used in different contexts. It is mainly used to detect defects and immediately stop the production or manufacturing process. It fixes the defect and finds solutions so that the defect or error does not occur again.
The concept, as mentioned before, was invented by Sakichi Toyoda. Its purpose is to reduce human error and judgment by automatic error detection and correction.
It was developed to eradicate the wastage of time due to human observation of the process, transportation, inventory, correction of defect, etc.
Now, with Jidoka, production lines have become significantly more efficient, and the wastage of goods and inventory have been reduced too.

Other Toyota Tools and Terms
You need to keep in mind is that Andon, Poka-yoke, Just-in-time, etc., are all tools invented by Toyota. Jidoka is also one of these tools, and it encompasses some of the others as well, like Andon and Poka-yoke.
Jidoka was developed to minimize errors that may have been caused due to human observations.
Remember that Andon is not an example of jidoka, but an important tool. It displays the current state of work―whether the process is smooth, or it has any malfunction, or if there are product glitches, etc.
The relation between Andon and Jidoka has been explained further in the article.
Similar to Jidoka, Just-In-time is another important tool, and is one of the crucial pillars of TPS.
It adheres to what product is required, when it is required, and how much is required.
The 'takt time' is an important principle―it refers to the time that should be taken to manufacture a product on one machine.
Line Stop Jidoka is a term that applies to the process in automotive manufacturing plants.
It is called so because it interrupts and halts the entire line (process) when a defect is found out.

The Elements of Jidoka

It is one of the important elements of Jidoka.
The basic principle of Genchi Genbutsu is to actually see the problem. It entails going to the root source of the problem.
This is an important step in the Jidoka process―to find out why the defect occurred in the first place.

As stated in the previous section, Andon is a visual representation of the current process.
It indicates whether the process in running as per norms or whether there is a potential flaw.
According to the condition, it gives out electronic signals. If the signal is negative, workers will understand that there is a problem in the process.
The machine stops, immediately of course, and the workers can stop the production until the flaw in the process is fixed.

The main aim of Jidoka is to increase production quality. This is what standardization deals with.
It involves developing strategies that adhere to perfection and quality.
When a flaw is discovered, it is not only fixed, but efforts are also undertaken to see that it does not occur again, and the quality and standard of the same product are maximized.

The concept is also called mistake-proofing or error-proofing; poka-yoke devices are designed to avoid mistakes that could occur during production.

The Principles

The Jidoka Process
As seen in the first figure above, without Jidoka, the defective piece continues to be produced and ejected. It is only after ejection that the worker may realize that the product is defective and then stop the process.
In the second figure, with Jidoka, the Andon light glows brightly indicating that the product is defective.
The process is halted immediately, and necessary steps are taken.

This involves detecting the problem.
The machine is fixed with the right components so that the abnormality is immediately identified.
For this step, machines may be fixed with sensors, electrical cords, push buttons, electronic devices, or may be fed with proper instructions to identify if a product is defective.

Once a defect has been spotted, the machine stops immediately.
The machine is designed to stop on its own, no staff or worker needs physically stop it.
The fact that a defect has been detected is indicated through signals. Once that is done, the staff might rush to the site to find out why the process has been halted.

When the machine stops, the production line needs to be stopped.
You might wonder why the entire line needs to be halted due to one or more defective pieces. This is done because there is a likelihood of defective parts or components to have been manufactured along with the defective part or component.
To avoid this over-production and wastage of material and equipment, the production line is halted.
After this, steps are undertaken to fix the problem. Sometimes, this may be a minor glitch, while at times, there may be a major problem.
Once the error is fixed, the production resumes.

The last and rather vital step of Jidoka is to investigate the source of the problem.
You have to find out answers to the following questions: 'Why the defect has occurred?', 'What kind of defect is it?', 'How can it be fixed?', 'What can be done to prevent it?', and so on. Root-cause analysis tools are widely used to get to the bottom of the problem.
Through this process, efforts are undertaken to find out the best solution for the defect, and to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
As more and more investigation and research is being carried out, better methods of manufacturing are discovered, better problem-solving techniques are invented, and the product quality increases.

Jidoka is mainly used in the manufacturing and automotive industries; however, it can be demonstrated in simple products used in daily life as well.
For example, if your kitchen cabinet is fixed with a dustbin, you will notice that when you open the door of the cabinet, the lid of the dustbin is automatically lifted.
This is because there is a string that helps lift the dustbin lid the moment the door is opened.
Consider a printing press machine. If a sheet is missing in the machine, a sheet detector raises the print cylinder. This is due to Jidoka.
In the manufacturing industry, a sensor is used to check if the components are in alignment. Even if a small part is out of alignment, the machine is stopped.
Some high quality machines use the recall procedure. Sometimes, despite the best counter-measures, some products in the production line may slip through the machine cycle, undetected. The recall procedure checks every single product once again, before the final output ejection.
Light curtains are used in automatic feed machines. They have a presence sensor that stops the machine if a component is broken or is defective.

Benefits of Jidoka
It helps detect the problem as soon as possible.
It increases the quality of the product by proper enhancement and standardization.
It integrates machine power with human intelligence to produce error-free goods.
It helps in proper utilization of labor since the process is automated, workers can spend their time performing more value-added services.
There is less scope for errors in production, which substantially increases the rate of productivity and lowers costs.
Improved customer satisfaction is an important advantage as well.
Good products are manufactured in lesser time.
Jidoka is one of the strong pillars of TPS (Toyota Production System). It helps prevent defects in the manufacturing process, identifies defect areas, and devises solutions to see to it that the problem is corrected and the same defect does not occur again. Jidoka helps build 'quality' and has significantly improved the manufacturing process.


Difference between Autonomation & Automation: (in summary)

Autonomation vs. Automation




If a malfunction occurs,

The machine shall detect the malfunction and stop itself.

 The machine will continue operating until someone turns off a switch.

Production of defects

No defective parts will be produced.

If defects occur, detection of these defects will be delayed.

Breakdown of machines

Breakdowns of machines, molds and/or jigs can be prevented.

possible breakdown of machines, molds, and/or jigs may result.

Severity of Malfunction detection

Easy to locate the cause of any malfunction and implement measures to prevent recurrence.

Difficult to locate the cause of malfunctions at an early stage and difficult to implement measures to prevent recurrence.




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Before they started the Toyota Car Company, Mr. Taiichi Ohno and Mr. Sakichi Toyota invented a weaving machine which would not only operate automatically but also stop automatically in case the thread broke. An operator was not then not required behind every weaving machine, but one operator could keep a watch on many weaving machines at a time and attend to any of the machines which had stopped due to a broken thread or any other problem. This helped to improve the productivity and also maintain quality by stopping in case there was a problem observed. Autonomation is there Automation with a human touch. Thus Autonomation is a kind of semi automation or limited automaton where a machine takes away human intervention from the repetitive and boring tasks but retains the human touch to monitor the process and checking for any abnormalities. 


Autonomation is, therefore, part of Jidoka - a four-step process

  1. Identify an abnormality
  2. STOP
  3. Rectify the abnormality
  4. Investigate and correct the root cause

Jidoka involves automated detection of errors at every stage of production and correct the problem at source rather than the issue being identified at the end of the production cycle. Although the production line needs to stop till the a particular issue gets resolved, it helps the spread of any error throughout the production cycle. As they say a stitch in time saves nine.


This would be usually implemented with a few sensors installed in the automatic machine to detect the defect and may be an alarm to attract attention of the operator in case of any failure.


Few of the modern day examples would be as follows:

Building Automation - We install smoke detectors in every room to detect fire. This eliminates need of positioning one person on ever floor or security guards taking rounds every few hours. Instead one security guard keeps monitoring a control panel which gives an alarm in case smoke is detected by any sensor. The fire fighting machinery can be activated to prevent spread of fire and consequent damage.

Similar analogy can be extended to fitment of Webcams in buildings. Instead of positioning many security guards we can have webcams fitted at multiple locations with one or few people monitoring the area. Action can be initiated if there is any security breach is observed.


Airline Industry - Automatic checkin kiosks are installed at airports to encourage people to do self checkins. Human interaction is only needed when someone is having difficulty n checkingin which is done by support staff moving around the kiosks. Luggage moving on conveyor belts and passing through X-ray machines can also be another example of an automated process wherein human intervention is required only if any abnormality is observed wherein the conveyor belt is stopped to check any suspicious luggage.


As far as the manufacturing industry is concerned, the advancement in technology also enables self correction which further reduces the human intervention and inches towrds complete automation.


Autonomation therefore enhances the effective utilisation of the manpower and substantially helps in improving the productivity of the organisation. It helps in lowering costs and increases the level of client satisfaction.

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Jidoka put simply is automation with a human touch. It helps in stopping work immediately as soon as a problem first occurs. This helps in identifying the root causes which once elimiated would lead to improvements in the processes.


Automation implies usage of machines, technology etc. to make processes run on their own without HUMAN intervention. Autonomation on the other hand is automation with a human touch.


Both these methodologies find their use in a wide variety of industries. Food processing is one of them.


In the food processing industry majority of the steps are automated like packaging, processing, mixing etc. However, at the initial stages when raw material is procured, manual quality checks are also done so that any defective or sub standard product does not enter the production cycle.

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One of the examples of autonomation from my own company is the BOTS that we are building to build on intelligence in to some of the routine, repetitive tasks that our Operations team does. We are in to tittle insurance business, our operations team handle many processes related to handling the tittle insurance of properties, right from understanding the content and making necessary updates in to data base and provide necessary feedback. We are working on creating BOTS that can understand the context of the document under processing and make all required checks, data gathering and processing of the documents. Here these BOTS cut down on possibility of error due to human intervention in these repetitive tasks and also cut down on the cycle time. Unlike if its just case of automation its more to replace repetitive work where still human intervention is required to validate the outcome of process. Autonomation process also helps to learn from the process handled by BOTS and refine it further and get better every time the operation is repeated.

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Jidoka is a methodology to provide machines and operators with the ability to detect when an abnormal condition has occurred and immediately stop the work. Jidoka is Autonomation, meaning automation with human intelligence. It frees the operator from watching the machine leading to large productivity gains. Jidoka allows the operation to have a build in quality at each step of process.


Autonomation is automation with a human touch. Autonomation therefore is not full scale automation, it automates the tasks that operators would find boring, repetitive or unsafe but retains human beings to look after the process, often loading the machines and monitoring for abnormalities highlighted by the machines. 


Autonomation is part of Jidoka, jidoka being a simple set of rules that were inspired by Toyoda’s first loom.

  • Discover an abnormality
  • STOP
  • Fix the immediate problem
  • Investigate and correct root cause.
  • Example: A simple coil feeder that provides a continuous supply of steel sheet to an automated press stamping out components, without any form of autonomation sensor an operator would have to watch this to ensure that the tension was correct and that the steel has not run out. Simple sensors will alert the operator if any problems occur and stop the press to prevent defects being produced or even damage to the press. This frees the operator to conduct other work and improves productivity and improves quality.
  • The use of autonomation can automate mundane tasks while keeping oversight, reducing errors and the cost of shipping returns.


  1. Inline monitors for CO2 in a ventilator tubing connection detecting rising CO2 level in the patient's exhalation and the alert caregivers in the need to change ventilator settings. 
  2. Incresingly automation has been major factor in effort of improving patient care safety.
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Autonomation commonly termed as Jidoka refers to "automation with human intelligence".It refers to the practice of stopping a manual line or process when something goes amiss. In practice, it means that the process is sufficiently "aware" of itself so that it will:

  • Detect process malfunctions or product defect
  • Stop itself
  • Alert the operator

This concept, in which intelligence added to machines, enabled companies to greatly increase the number of machines a single operator could run—with very little extra effort on the worker’s part. With jidoka, production becomes much easier for operators and much more profitable for companies as it is about stopping whenever an abnormal condition is detected, fixing the defect, and then counter measuring to prevent further occurrences. Many jidoka devices are combined with an Andon light, or signalling device, to alert the operator of the abnormal condition. The purpose of jidoka is to separate people from machines, so an operator can do other tasks while the machine is running.


Also consider case of two supervisors: one who followed orders and stopped the line immediately when trouble developed and another who was reluctant to stop the line. 

At first, the line that stopped frequently had lower output. After several months, however, the situation reversed. The line that rarely stopped still had the same problems. These problems stalled productivity improvements and created rework that lowered efficiency. The line that initially saw frequent stoppages found that the stoppages had been reduced and overall efficiency improved.


Companies often emulate Toyota and depict their production system as a “Lean house”. Jidoka is frequently depicted as one of its pillars. The other common pillar, JIT or just-in time manufacturing, and jidoka work together to create manufacturing excellence. For Just-in-time to work, all of the components that are made and supplied must meet predetermined quality standards. This is achieved through Jidoka, which helps ensure that workers can highlight, visualise and act on correcting problems in the manufacturing process.


Automation on the other hand is basically making a hardware or software that is capable of doing things automatically. Consider the example of fire alarm systems deployed in buildings. As soon as smoke sensor is activated, water start pouring down the pipes.


 In Automation, you are using a software or hardware that has the ability to do things automatically. They will do exactly what you have intended them to do. There are different types of automation depending on their use. These are Numerical Control, Computer-Aided-Manufacturing, and Flexible Manufacturing Systems & Industrial Robots. On automated transportation, we have; of course, the most prevalent cars, UAVs, and unmanned yachts.


Setting up a process which does not involve any THINKING to run without or with little help of human is called automation. Here selecting a thing from many choices is not called thinking. In automation all the environment parameters are well known at the time of design and are not supposed to change during operations.


Many automated machines today have jidoka built in. They stop when something goes wrong—a bit breaks, for example. Most of us even have a good example of this in our homes. Washing machines shut themselves off if they get out of balance or if the lid is opened.


Human processes have much less of this ‘built-in’. They often have a hard time detecting the abnormality, and frequently attempt to fix it themselves, rather than draw attention to the problem.


Imagine if you had to stay near your washing machine to listen for the signs of imbalance. You’d be extremely limited in what you could do and your time would be wasted. Jidoka reduces the need to be near a machine continuously.


In short, Jidoka means intelligent automation. When translated to the factory floor, Jidoka is a quality control method, which ensures that all the quality checks and balances are carried out. It aims to prevent the production of defective products, eliminate overproduction and focus attention on understanding the problems and ensuring that they do not reoccur.

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WHAT Jidoka/Autonomation is one of the pillars of Toyota Production System. The other one being Just - in-time. So, Jidoka is about “Automation with Human touch”. While Automation (replacement of humans) focuses on improving utilization whereas, Autonomation(enhancing value addition of a human) addresses quality of the products/deliverable.


HOW When a Jidoka is deployed or employed (if built in), it stops the process from abnormality, corrects the errors, prevents repetition, alerts the controls and restarts the process. It is accomplished by human intervention. An alert and its significance makes whole of Jidoka to be non invasive and efficient.


WHY Jidoka is against traditional thinking of inspection towards the end of the process and rework thereafter to recover from damages. Autonomation ensures quality built in the process and only confirmed service/product is delivered. It provides us with tremendous benefit of identifying the hidden factory, reducing rework, external failures and controlled operational costs. Better standardization helps problem detection and quality the first time.


WHERE Inspired by the functioning of human body of find, diagnosis and repair below are few applications of Jidoka. Needless to say that the manufacturing setups have discovered this approach of process efficiency and have displayed substantial merit over the years.

Talking about smart phones with space cleaner and antivirus Applications. They help user identify the space usage and unwarranted intrusion of malware. User will decide on the alert and approve the automation. The application will repair, advise over RCA and prompt preventive measures. This entire exercise can be automated with status update shared to the user.


Fitness watches tracking the movement of the bearer, identifying misses with the course, suggesting remedies, upon confirmation of correction, prompts preventive measures.


Project management for minor or major undertakings where in the stages of defining, initiation, Planning, execution, monitoring, control and closure have standardized approach. Each phase will alert deviations, identify the problem, stop the proceedings to reduce the bleeding and get back on track post approvals and conformance to the measurements. Both automation and autonomation have scope to assist the cause.


Health care industry implementing Jidoka through evaluation of each assessment to determine the treatment needed for a patient. Each stage is reviewed for the variations from the desired state and corresponding outcome is recommended. Can run entirely by machines or involve humans at critical points.

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Automation can be defined as the technology by which a process or procedure is performed without human assistance- Automation most of the times provides a faster rate of production and the finished products are more or less of standardised quality standards, as compared to manual production.


Whereas, Jidoka refers to an automated system, supplemented by human oversight and judgment, capable of detecting errors. A Jidoka solution would detect an error, halt production, alert a human worker to correct the problem and restart the system. The fundamental concept behind Jidoka is that machines don't solve problems, people solve problems. So when you design equipment, you design it to shut off when a bad product is made so that people can respond and solve that problem as soon as it is made.


The original Jidoka implementation involved an automated loom that could detect a broken input strand and stop the loom until the strand was repaired. 

Hence Jidoka is also known as autonomation, meaning “automation with Human Intelligence” or “Intelligent Machines”


In modern times when the focus is on Quality service to the customer, but with control of cost and wastage  and enhancement of productivity  Jidoka is the theory of designing Machines/ processes to run without people “Tied to the machine”, which means the attendant (resource) is able to do other tasks while the machine runs- greater productivity. Thus the work is being done with total “autonomy” as per design of plan- Good standardised Quality , till there is any deviation from expected results, and there is also a check/ warning- Control on wastage and  arrangement for immediate human intervention to correct any undesired situation.- Control on cost of defectives and replacements  and rework.

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The second pillar of lean is JIDOKA, sometimes referred to as “autonomation” or automation with a “human touch”. The goal of Jidoka is Zero defects, which is to never pass a defective product downstream and to eliminate the risk that an undetected defect will end up in the hands of the customer. However, zero defects are not enough when it comes to Jidoka. Jidoka must be done in a way that promotes JIT and continuous flow.


Jidoka’s purpose is to achieve zero defects within a JIT system. Every step and task of improvement using the Jidoka principle, accomplishes the goal.


The three functions of Jidoka:

  • Separate human work from machine work
  • Develop defect prevention devices
  • Apply Jidoka to assembly operations


Jidoka is different than automation. It is accomplished slowly, systematically and inexpensively. It ensures that machine don’t just move parts and product. Instead, machines in a Jidoka system do only “Value added” work, reduce cycle time and prevent wastes such as waiting, moving things, inspection and defects. Further, Jidoka makes it easy to change any production process while automation is difficult and expensive to change.

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The concept of Jidoka is “Automatic detection of problems or defects at an early stage and proceed with the production only after resolving the problem at its root cause”. This means, the machines and operation will stop automatically without any human intervention or supervision, once a problem is detected or a defect is found.

The problems and defects are identified and resolved then and there rather than accumulating the errors till the end of production line. This saves a huge amount of rework, inspection time, time and effort of the labor and helps in early delivery of goods, in turn the adherence to the cycle time.



A bolt manufacturing unit produces a large amount of products in minutes, if the any defect in the CNC cutting machine, the units products will be defective and this is a huge cost if the issue is not rectified at the early stage. The use of Autonomation will help in the detection of the issue then and there and the cost of rework or reprocessing the products will be reduced.

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Jidoka means intelligent automation. When translated to the factory floor, Jidoka is a quality control method, which ensures that all the quality checks and balances are carried out.

Jidoka enables machinery to be intelligent enough to:

  •     Identify process malfunctions or product defects.
  •     Stop itself
  •     Alert the operator



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In an automated machine a small abnormality can produce hundreds of defective products quickly. Hence mass production of defective products cannot be prevented in the automated machine


In order to eliminate this shortcoming of the automated machine, Toyota uses Autonomation, i.e. Automation with a human touch. This idea originated from Toyoda Sakichi with the invention of auto-activated weaving machine. This weaving machine will stop instantly if any one of the threads broke.

The machine automated with a human touch is equipped with automatic stopping devices for abnormal situations, safety devices, fixed position stopping devices and Poka Yoke fool proofing system for prevention defective products.


Autonomation changes the role of an operator in a shop floor. The Operator is not needed when the machine is working normally and only when the machine stops because of an abnormal situation it gets human attention. So one worker can attend several machines. Thus we can increase production efficiency using Autonomation. Also stopping machine when there is an abnormality forces awareness on everyone.


For example in manufacturing PET bottles through injection molding. The temperature variation can cause a huge amount of defects/ rejections until and unless detected by quality personal.


Whereas in the case of autonomation we can link the dimesion of bottle through auto gauging station linked with machine. The Autocorrection mode will start if there is any deviation in dimensions detected and the rejection of rest of the bottles can be avoided.



1. If a malfunction occurs, the machine shall detect the malfunction and stop itself.
2. No defective parts will be produced. Breakdowns of machines, molds and/or jigs can be prevented.
3. Easy to locate the cause of any malfunction and implement measures to prevent recurrence.


1. If a malfunction occurs, the machine will continue operating until someone turns off a switch.
2. If defects occur, detection of these defects will be delayed, possible breakdown of machines, molds, and/or jigs may result.
3. Difficult to locate the cause of malfunctions at an early stage and difficult to implement measures to prevent recurrence.

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Autonomation is automation with human touch. Autonomation is not full scale automation, it automates the tasks that operators would find boring, repetitive or unsafe but retains human beings to look after the process.


Sakichi Toyoda invented a loom in 1896 that not only operated automatically bit also stopped when any of the threads broke, this simple idea revolutionised the industry as instead of there being a requirement for an operator having to sit beside each and every machine, waiting and searching for a problem, one operator could now watch several machines and just take action when a problem occured thus increasing productivity and quality.


Autonomation applies following principles:

  1. Detect the abnormality
  2. Stop
  3. Fix or correct the immediate condition
  4. Investigate the root cause and install countermeasures
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Jidoka term is ued in Toyota ProductionSystem which means intelligent automation or automation with human touch. Its an Quality check method which ensures all quality checks and balances are carried out. Jidoka enables machinery to b eenough to 


1) Identify process malfunction/ Product defect

2) Stop itself

3) Fix and correct

4) Investigate a rootcause and install a counter measure


The term Jidoka(autonomation) is applied to a machine with a built in device to make judgement whereas regular Japanese term Jido(Automation) is applied to a mchine which moves on its own. Jidoka refers to a machine which moves wih a human touch. Since it has an inbult intelligence hence one operator is sufficient to oversee  several machineries. Whereas Automation that is Jido refers to a machinery which is under monitoring of a operator . There are several opertors for all the machineries. 

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In Manufacturing industry Jidoka / Autonomation mean "automation with human intelligence". Most common Jidoka is the practice of stopping a manual line / machine or a process when something goes wrong or is abnormal; and is detected by jidoka arrangement in process. This is done in order to minimize the losses further. Then immediately the operator present in cell, will find root cause and take corrective actions on root cause and restart the process.


Whereas Full Automation is conversion of all human work content into all machine work. The main difference between two is, Jidoka seperates human from machine and has a form of automatic inspection and signalling mechanism along with automation.


Example –

A Press Machine produces defect then it is detected by jidoka (shape or weight sensor, in a jig on conveyor) before part goes to next machine and if abnormality found then previous machine is stopped and then operator take the appropriate action. Where as full automation means presses are connected with each other with a part handling mechanism (industrial robo) and parts are processed without auto inspection.

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