In the words of Taiichi Ohno, creator of the Toyota Production System, "autonomation refers to automating a process to include inspection at the source. Human attention is necessary only when a defect is detected (the machine will stop and not continue until the problem is solved)." This automation with a human touch requires human involvement only when there is a problem to be solved, so one operator can tend to multiple machines. A rule of Lean is that no defective product is ever passed on to a downstream operation.
Loosely translated to mean ‘autonomation’, or ‘automation with intelligence’. Also called 'Jidohka'.
In some factories, whenever a problem develops in a machine tool, e.g. a drill, a detector (such as an electrical circuit) trips to stop the machine and emits a signal to inform operators about the abnormality. The machine will resume operation only after the problem is eliminated.
Jidoka results in improved quality at the source, increased production capability, and better utilization of the operator’s time.
Because Defects propagate down the production line it is important to find the source of the defect upstream and eliminate it as early as possible. Jidoka requires stopping the production line at the first sign of a problem until it is resolved. This removes the burden of continuous monitoring of machines by the worker, requiring only that they stop the line whenever a machine indicates a problem. It is aimed at immediate identification and containment of the problem and mistake-proofing the system to prevent its future occurrence.
Jidoka is a central concept of the Toyota Production System and Lean manufacturing.