Poka-yoke ポカヨケ

Poka-yoke is a Japanese term that means “mistake-proofing” or “error-proofing.” It refers to any mechanism in a process that helps prevent errors before they occur or makes them immediately obvious once they have occurred. Shigeo Shingo developed the concept as part of the Toyota Production System and has since been widely adopted in various industries to improve quality and efficiency.

Here’s a detailed overview of poka-yoke, including its principles, types, and examples:


  1. Prevention and Detection: Poka-yoke mechanisms are designed to either prevent errors from occurring or detect them immediately to allow for quick correction.
  2. Simplicity: The mechanisms should be simple and cost-effective to implement. Complex solutions are less likely to be adopted and maintained.
  3. User-Friendly: They should be easy to use and not interfere with the overall workflow.
  4. Fail-Safe: The design should ensure that if a mistake occurs, the system automatically corrects it or stops the process to prevent further issues.


  1. Control Poka-Yoke: This type of mechanism aims to control the process so that errors cannot occur. It either makes it impossible to perform a task incorrectly or stops the process when an error is detected.
    • Example: A fixture that holds a part in the correct position so it can only be assembled one way.
  2. Warning Poka-Yoke: These mechanisms alert the user when a mistake has been made, allowing them to correct it.
    • Example: An alarm that sounds if a machine detects an abnormal operation.


  1. Physical Shapes and Sizes:
    • USB Connectors: They can only be plugged in one way, preventing incorrect connections.
    • Assembly Jigs: Tools that ensure parts can only be assembled in the correct orientation.
  2. Sensors and Alarms:
    • Pressure Sensors: In a packaging machine, sensors ensure that the correct pressure is applied. If not, the machine stops.
    • Light Curtains: Used in machinery to stop operation if an object (like a hand) interrupts a beam of light.
  3. Checklists and Color Codes:
    • Checklists: Simple checklists for complex procedures ensure that all steps are followed.
    • Color Coding: Wires and components color-coded to ensure connections are made correctly.


  1. Identify Common Errors: Analyze your process to determine where mistakes frequently occur.
  2. Brainstorm Solutions: Think of simple, cost-effective ways to prevent or detect these errors.
  3. Prototype and Test: Develop prototypes of your poka-yoke solutions and test them in the actual process.
  4. Train Staff: Ensure all relevant personnel understand the poka-yoke mechanisms and how to use them.
  5. Continuous Improvement: Regularly review and improve your poka-yoke solutions based on feedback and new error data.

Various Industries

  • Manufacturing: Ensuring parts are assembled correctly to avoid defective products.
  • Healthcare: Preventing medication errors through barcoding and electronic health records.
  • Software Development: Implementing error-checking code and user interface design that prevents incorrect data entry.

By incorporating poka-yoke into your processes, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of errors, improve quality, and increase efficiency.

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