Put simply, Jidoka is automation with a human touch.
Jidoka is a key element of the Toyota Production System. The concept covers the machine aspect and human aspect of quality.
Automated machinery on detection of an abnormal situation, triggers work instantly stops. The founder of Toyota Group (Kiichiro Toyoda) invented a textile loom that would automatically stop when a thread broke. Previously when a thread broke, the machine kept running until a machine operator noticed the issue and stopped the machine. Any material produced from when the thread broke, to the machine was stopped was wasted. Meaning each loom required a very attentive operator. With the invention of Toyoda’s new loom, the loom would automatically shut down on detecting any abnormality. Thus stopping any wasted material being produced. It also meant a single operator could now attend multiple machines.
But Jidoka goes beyond just automated machinery.
Jidoka empowers the individual worker to shut down production when an abnormal condition is recognised. This is called quality at the source. Each worker is his own inspector. Nothing leaves your work station unless it meets engineering and manufacturing standards. There for, former inline inspections are no longer needed, eliminating such non-value added steps helps to streamline the production process and reduces cost.