• Donald Davis

Four Ways To Poke Yoke: Error Proof Your Organization

When you think about errors, reducing errors or preventing them entirely at your company, what comes to mind? Error-free workflows and flawless results? Or is it the fear that something will go wrong and there will be endless fire drills, urgent meetings and possible lost business?

Poke Yoke is the process of error-proofing so that errors cannot happen. In this blog post we’ll discuss 4 of the most popular ways to reduce errors in your company using Poke Yoke!

Introduction

In everyday life there are things that you run across that are poke yoked. Things like wall outlets and what the plug fits into. The type of connector a computer plug has, a USB or USB-c would be additional examples. These types of connectors prevent you from being able to plug something in and have it burn up due to too much voltage or the wrong type of current.

Starting your car, all modern cars have a safety feature that forces you to push on the brake just to ensure that you have control of the vehicle before it is started. Too many people would first press on the gas previously causing their vehicle to leap forward unexpectedly resulting in an accident.

Ways to Reduce Errors

It is possible in business to have a similar type of approach where things that are error prone can have a Poke Yoke in place to ensure that errors cannot happen.

Design

Designing an error-proof method of delivering the work starts with considering where errors may occur. Things like the right tools or materials will be needed as well as who is going to use those things and how they are used. The way that things are applied and how they could be misused should all be points of reference.

A great tool to use in the design of an error free process is an FMEA (Failure Modes Effects Analysis). iSixSigma has a great reference for the use of this tool (https://www.isixsigma.com/tools-templates/fmea/fmea-quick-guide/)

In part, a FMEA will look at the risk of an error occurring and the severity to then provide a prioritization for the potential fixes for the errors. As the organization looks to utilize the FMEA consideration should be given to how to prevent or Poke Yoke the process so that errors cannot occur.

Metrics

Metrics are used to measure quality of the processes, products, or services against standards. You can also use data to provide a clear indication for where error proofing needs to occur. With data you can identify potential weak points in the process and make them stronger.

Checklist

Another way of error-proofing your company is through a simple checklist that ensures each task was completed before moving on with manufacturing or services. Such as having someone sign off on a checklist that states they have finished their part of work and it can be moved forward without checking again.

There are now critical processes that are carried out by completing checklists like the pre-flight checklists Airlines use. In addition to a physical checklist, the software that supports the airplane also helps in ensuring that key items are checked prior to flight.

Process Improvement Tools

At times, understanding why errors occur is not as obvious as we would all like. In these cases process improvement or root-cause tools can be used to better understand where problems happen. With this understanding greater barriers can be developed that will prevent future errors from occurring.

One of the best tools for evaluating errors would be a fishbone or cause and effect diagram. The fishbone can be used to lay out the varying ways the errors can occur followed by evaluating each one of the potential causes against the data and observational information that is available.

Conclusion

Error-proofing is the process of designing a product or service to be free from defects and errors. It can also refer to manufacturing processes that are designed with an understanding of how people will use them in order to prevent errors before they occur. Error-proofing is a process that can be used to ensure your company makes the most of its resources and reduces waste.

It’s an important part of lean manufacturing, which is a system for reducing costs and improving quality in business processes. Lean manufacturing has been adopted by many companies around the world because it helps them improve their bottom lines while also making sure they are producing high-quality products or services.

Ready? Let’s get started…

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