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Quality Improvement Tool Poka Yoke

Published on Feb 28, 2024


Mistake-proofing is the use of process or design features to prevent errors or their negative impact. Mistake-proofing is also known as poka-yoke, which is Japanese slang for avoiding inadvertent errors. It was formalized by Shigeo Shingo .

Poka-yoke is an preventive action that focuses on identifying and eliminating the special causes of variation in production processes, which inevitably lead to product nonconformities or defects poka-yoke offers a strategy for preventing defects at the source that is both cost-effective and easy to understand and apply.

It is also a Valuable tool to add organization's continual improvement tool box, if applicable. While at heart a preventive action, poka-yoke is a continual improvement strategy that offers a way to move the QMS towards a higher level of Performance The poka-yoke concept was created in the mid-1980s by Shigeo Shingo, a Japanese manufacturing engineer.

Shingo is well-known for his evolutionary work at Toyota and other Japanese companies, where he developed entire production systems focused on achieving zero defects in production. Behind poka-yoke is the notion that it is not acceptable to produce even a small amount of nonconforming product. To become a world-class competitor, an organization must adopt not only a philosophy but a practice of producing zero defects. Poka-yoke methods are the simple concepts for achieving this goal and are a key component of the continual improvement strategy in many leading Japanese companies today.

Because of its preventive nature, poka-yoke represents what the Japanese refer to as "good kaizen", or superior continual improvement. How does poka-yoke work? Essentially poka-yoke devices are installed upon process equipment to eliminate or reduce the possibility of error. The specific devices that are employed will depend upon the nature of the process they are used on, but the most common types of poka-yoke devices are inexpensive modifications to process equipment, including such things as locator pins, limit switches and interference pins. Their purpose is to reduce the variability that exists in processing and to ensure consistent, defect-free production.


Poka-yoke devices work because a nonconformity can only be in one of two states-it is about to occur or has already happened. Poka-yoke devices employ three basic methods to prevent product defects: We can classify the working of Poka yoke devices in to three types.

1. Shutdown.

Poka-yoke devices monitor critical process conditions and shut down the process when a parameter moves out of the desirable range, indicating that a defective product has either been produced or is about to be produced.

2. Control.

Poka-yoke devices are installed on process equipment and/or work pieces, making it impossible to produce defects and/or to flow a nonconforming product onto the next process.

3. Warning.

Poka-yoke devices signal to a worker that a defect has been produced. The worker must intervene to correct the process (es) responsible for causing the defect, since otherwise the process (es) will output further nonconforming product

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