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This concept is all about taking preventative measures to stop errors entering the production cycle. The logic is to get products manufactured ‘right first time’.

Underlying Poka-Yoke characteristics:

  • Physical Dimensions - Height, weight, size these determine how a component is loaded and set on a machine/production processes. The idea is to ensure the components are placed in the correct manner to prevent disruption. This may also mean getting suppliers to supply you with components with special characteristics for instance with special features to ensure that the parts are manufactured exactly to how they would be used on your machining processes.
  • Deviations - How can the production process detect if a component is not the correct shape or form?. Examples of this could be electronic sensors on machines and conveyor belts which detect if a component is too heavy, too big, not strong enough (torque test), not have enough machining done, etc. The machine would then signal to the operator to show that there is non-conforming material in the system, allowing for quick identification and removal from the rest of the production cycle.

Poka-Yoke is particularly used in the motor industry where car parts must be placed in a certain sequence, for example car badges which have insertions in certain areas which mean operators must insert the part in a set manner.

Benefits of Poka-Yoke include a reduction in waste and associated machining costs as non-conforming material is identified at each stage rather than a inspection stage between several stages. By reducing the waste in the system, there should be an associated reduction in inventory holdings, improvements in customer satisfaction levels as a better quality product is delivered to them. Poka-Yoke should also lend itself to improvements in employee relationships as it encourages more involvement and getting support teams involved to improve processes which keep causing problems.

Dis-advantages of Poka-Yoke include the increased times that operators would have to spend inspecting their work, however this does mean a reduction in scrap costs over the long-term. In the short-term your business may experience a sharp increase in scrap materials, but the resulting improvements which arise from identification means less non-conformance in the long-term.

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