What is Poka-Yoke and How is it play vital Role to Industry?

Here is the story of “Poka Yoke” that is said to aim at zero defects. Lean Sigma Black Belt. Poka-Yoke is very famous in the manufacturing industry. Pretty much everyone knows the word in the industry. “Poka-Yoke” means a “Mistake” and “To Avoid” in Japanese.

 Therefore, Poka-Yoke means “Mistake Proofing”. Since we are all humans, everyone makes mistakes. However, mistakes in every business could lead to major or huge losses and safety issues. Ideas and techniques that ensure mistakes never happen are Poka-Yoke. The most familiar example is a USB cable. This cable, you can not physically able to plug it on the other side. Another example is, one of my house’s under sinks looks like this underneath. If by any chance you dropped something important in it, you can still get it out of the pipe. This is also Poka-Yoke. In the manufacturing industry, there are two types of Poka-Yoke: Control Poka Yoke and Warning Poka-Yoke. Control Poka-Yoke is more ideal. By changing process steps or tweaking your tools, Control Poka-Yoke is to form it mechanically impossible for a mistake to happen in your process. If you can not achieve Control Poka-Yoke, then you should implement Warning Poka-Yoke. This Poka Yoke alerts operators by color or sound when they are about to make a mistake, so they can prevent it. A car’s headlights are a good example.

 When you leave your headlights on and stop the engine, the previous generation of cars alerted us by sound. This is the Warning Poka-Yoke. But recent technology in cars turns the lights off automatically. Cars have evolved, now do the Control Poka-Yoke. So how can we utilize Poka-Yoke in our work or company? I’ll introduce the four steps to carry out a Poka-Yoke.

 Step 1

It is to keep firmly in mind: “Everyone makes mistakes, but I’m responsible for those mistakes as a manager.” You may think that that is just a mental theory, but as long as you blame others or your workers, you cannot think of any Poka-Yoke ideas. It’s more important than you think to change your mindset to “I’ll make a Poka-Yoke process. In order to do that, what should I do?” In service operations, since we didn’t have this concept before, and we have a few examples, this mindset is particularly important. We can go to the next step after achieving this.

 Step 2

This is “Find the most mistake-ridden work or process.” In Lean Sigma, we always affect Vital Few, a few very important factors. The impact after solving the vital few mistakes is more significant than solving the others.

 Step 3

This is “Find the basis explanation for the vital few mistakes and design Control Poka Yoke or Warning Poka-Yoke.” For that, you ought to conduct the 5 Why Analysis and prepare an Ishikawa Diagram, then you can find their main root causes. 

Step 4 

This is “Make an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) and Checklist, then train operators according to it.” For operations using Excel or PDF, you may be able to practice actual Poka Yoke, for example, by using the function or macros of the data validation. But, frankly speaking, you may have a rare chance to be ready to found out Poka-Yoke for service operations. In that case, you should design a standard operation that produces fewer mistakes and document the standard operation as an SOP. You should also prepare a Checklist that lists the important steps for the new process. The operators can refer to this Checklist during their operations. Also, in this way the new method may be user-friendly for the operators, otherwise, they would stop using it and return to their old method. Our main motto for zero mistakes with this Poka-Yoke concept. Thank you very much for reading. Please click the ‘Subscribe’ button. 

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