Quality Control Tools – Poka Yoke: What is it, Principles, Types and MORE

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We live in a world increasingly open to markets and competition. This requires us to pay more attention to people’s preferences and the quality of products and services. Therefore, we are sure that you are interested in knowing everything about Quality Control Tools – Poka Yoke.

You have surely heard that quality control is a philosophy of life. That is why we want to make sure that what we do is free from errors and defects, thanks to the use of quality control and assurance tools. The Poka-yokes will help you detect errors to avoid defects.

We invite you to continue reading, you will find what you need to know!

What is Quality Control?

It is good that you know that quality control revolutionized the corporate world during the first decade of the twentieth century. If you walk through its evolution throughout the last century, you will see that it was incorporating mechanisms, actions and tools aimed at detecting errors and avoiding failures and defects.

We tell you that its first beginnings had to do with statistical process control (SPC) in graphs and control charts, going through the entire Total Quality Control project, the theory of zero defects and its 14 steps.

We are sure you have heard about the Total Process Quality and the Kaizen method, the 7 statistical tools and the quality circles. And finally, the 1990s innovated with the famous Total Quality Management (TQM).

In all this progress, you should know that the main function of quality control is to ensure that the products or services meet the minimum quality requirements. You will know about the quality of the product through the engineering of specifications.

To control the quality of a product you must carry out inspections or tests with which you verify its characteristics in an optimal way. Learn the maxim of quality control: the higher the quality, the less waste and rework. And with what the cost of your production processes and products, would be reduced.

A curious fact that we want to share with you. Due to the increasingly optimal results that are given with quality tools, it is important that you see the great opportunity that thinking about total quality control. It doesn’t make sense for you to see it as a matter for engineers and employees from the operational line, but rather you should see it as a vision for your entire organization.

Therefore, the great challenge is total participation in these processes and not limit it to a subject of inspection. You must see it as a matter of everyone’s interest in managerial, administrative and operational activities. Think of it as relevant to product design, manufacturing, after-sales warranty, outsourcing, and support activities (accounting, personnel management, etc.). It is what you should know with Total Quality Management.

You must have heard of quality circles too. Well, tools that can help you to integrate teams that participate in total quality. You will only have to organize a small group of people who carry out quality control activities within the same workshop or production chain.

With these quality circles you train people in quality control tools, self-development and quality control statistics.

What are Quality Control Tools?

We want you to go deeper into the subject. So now we will talk about the Quality Control Tools – Poka Yoke. These are nothing more than methods that you can use to drive and achieve continuous improvement and problem solving in your organization or company.

It is a set of measures that you will have at your disposal so that you achieve an increasingly effective and optimal quality control. Although it is necessary that you have knowledge and operational and technical skills, in addition to the careful monitoring of its steps, you are guaranteed that if you combine it with creativity and innovation, the result will be successful.

There are various methods with their tools, techniques and processes. For this, we advise you to review the importance of having a quality control plan, where you integrate all this set of quality control techniques and tools.

To close this section, we want to leave you the famous Seven Basic Quality Tools for continuous improvement and problem solving:

  1. Cause – Effect Diagram for you to identify, classify and expose the possible causes of both specific problems and desired effects.
  2. Verification Sheet in which you can record data on the occurrence of certain situations that you must examine.
  3. Control Charts that are statistical tools to control and improve processes by reviewing their variation over time.
  4. Histogram is a vertical bar graph where you can represent the frequency distribution of a data set.
  5. Pareto chart is an analysis method with which you can differentiate the most important causes of a problem from those that are less significant and trivial.
  6. Scatter Scheme for you to identify the possible relationship between two variables.
  7. Stratification so that you classify the available data according to groups with similar characteristics.

The most attractive of Quality Control Tools – Poka Yoke is that you will see that they can be handled by people with average training. With this you can help you create problem-solving strategies in quality circles and in your work teams motivated to continuous improvement and the search for quality in everything they do. As we told you before, it is a philosophy of life.

What is Poka Yoke?

In all those Quality Control Tools, we want you to see that Poka Yoke It is one of the most relevant to combat errors. With it you can achieve process designs aimed at detect, eliminate or prevent mistakes, whether human or automation.

Did you know that the Poka-yokes were created by the Japanese engineer Shigeo Shingo for quality assurance? Keep reading, we will tell you more things that you are interested in knowing if you want to achieve error-free products and services.

The “Poka-Yokes” will help you minimize risks with simple and cheap measures in all operations of the manufacture of a product, including intermediate tasks and activities. More key it will be when you see that this tool will be very useful when it comes to handling a large number of parts, complex assemblies and repetitive operations.

If you are interested in applying a Poka-Yoke system, you must take into account two functions:

  1. Control to prevent the error from occurring. You must use shapes or colors that differentiate how the processes should be carried out or how a piece should fit.
  2. Warning for you to design a device that indicates to the operator that a failure has occurred and must correct it (photoelectric barriers, pressure sensors, alarms, etc.)

With a Poka-yoke you can count on a 100% inspection mechanism of the process, which provides feedback and takes immediate action, including a corrective measure. Do you notice what utility it contains?

FACT: We want you to know that the word Poka-yoke comes from the Japanese terms: Poka = Unforeseen mistakes, Yokeru = Action to avoid. Note that its literal meaning is “avoid inadvertent mistakes.”

With a Poka-Yoke you will be achieving an ideal inspection where the control of the operation is not alien to its natural operator. Well, part of the fact that each process and its managers must ensure a quality product, without defects. Each step is a kind of “internal customer” that must be served with total quality.

Basic Principles of the Poka Yoke Methodology

We have already reached the methodology that you need to develop to implement a Poka-yoke. You can run it through a Kaizen event that lasts between 4, 5 and 10 days. Here you can include a tool with which you can establish priorities in the attention of failures, such as the Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FMEA).

So you can build your own methodological plan for your Quality Control Tools – Poka Yoke, following these actions:

  1. Use the FMEA to identify the most relevant failures of the process.
  2. Establish the scope of the Kaizen project.
  3. Establish the stages of the process.
  4. Identify the type of elements to be used (poka-yoke design).
  5. Implement the poka-yokes.
  6. Track the effectiveness of the implementation.

After you do a great route, consider the following basic principles of the Poka-yoke methodology:

  1. Errors are inevitable, defects are not.
  2. Catch the bug before it becomes a defect.
  3. Isolate the source of the problem and you will avoid defects.

To conclude, remember that a poka-yoke is an inspection that completes the Statistical Process Control (SPC), it does not replace it. You must use it as a complement to other basic quality tools.

Types of Poka Yokes

We want to illustrate which are the most common types of Poka-Yoke. You can identify it for example in a design that only allows you to connect the pieces in the correct way. If you try to fit them backwards or in the wrong place, the pieces just won’t fit.

Another is the color code, as you can see in the connectors of computers where each type of connection has a different color to facilitate assembly. Also, there are arrows and indications of the type “a-> <-a", "b-> <-b that show you where each piece fits according to its orientation.

Quality Control Tools – Poka Yoke.

You will be able to investigate many types of Poka-Yokes. However, we will leave you a list of the four most highlighted by the experts:

  1. Physical: they are devices or mechanisms that will help you prevent errors in operations and products, by identifying physical inconsistencies.
  2. Sequential: mechanisms that you can use to preserve a particular order or sequence. This is the case when order is important to the process, and an omission of it consists in an error.
  3. Grouping: these are pre-listed kits, either tools or components, so that you do not forget any element that prevents you from correct operation.
  4. Information: these are mechanisms that you can use to provide feedback from the operator in real time with clear and simple information that allows you to prevent errors.

Benefits of Applying Poka Yoke

At this point, we want to leave you the benefits of the Quality Control Tools – Poka Yoke. The advantages that you will obtain from using a Poka-Yoke system are the following:

  • It will help you eliminate the risk of making mistakes both in repetitive activities (chain production) and in activities where operators can make mistakes due to ignorance or lightness (computer assembly).
  • It will ensure that the machine or process operator is focused on the operations that add the most value, rather than just focusing on error prevention or correction.
  • It is a methodology that helps you focus everything on improving quality from its source, making it easier for you to act directly on the source of the defect to avoid / reduce subsequent corrections, repairs and quality controls.
  • It concentrates you on cheap and simple solutions to implement.

So that you can achieve a global quality system that touches everyone’s minds, the Poka-Yoke will support your workers in their routine activities. So go ahead with plans and actions with these tools that we leave you today in this article.

Thanks for reading!

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