Automation With A Human Touch

Posted by on Sep 12, 2021 in Lean | 0 comments

One of the two pillars of the Toyota Production System is autonomation, meaning automation with a human touch. The concept originated in the early 1900s when Sakichi Toyoda invented a textile loom that stopped automatically when a thread broke. Previously, if a line broke, the loom would make mounds of defective fabric, so each machine needed to be watched by an operator. Toyoda’s innovation let one operator control many machines.

Autonomation allows machines and operators to detect when an abnormal condition has occurred and immediately stop work. It enables operations to build quality at each process and separate men and equipment for more efficient work.  Autonomation highlights the causes of problems because work stops immediately when a problem occurs. Halting the process leads to improvements and the elimination of root causes of defects.

Taiichi Ohno, the founder of the Toyota Production System, stated, “automation with a human touch has an automatic stopping device if something goes wrong. When the processing is over or a defective item is detected, the situation can worsen without this automatic stopping device. If defects are created in large quantities, they become difficult to control. We had to install a device which would prevent mass production of defective items.”

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