Gonçalo Fortes avatar
Written by Gonçalo Fortes
Updated over a week ago

The True Definition of Poka-Yoke

Poka-yoke is a Japanese term which translates to mistake proofing. It can be any mechanism or device that helps an operator to avoid mistakes. It is important to note that poka-yoke is not a guarantee against sabotage. In the manufacturing industry, it’s used to eliminate product defect by removing errors as they occur. 

Poka-yoke in the service industry ensures that a particular task is performed by the right person and that it is done correctly. Apart from preventing and correcting, poka-yoke flashes the beam on human errors as they occur.

How Did Poka-Yoke Come into Existence?

Poka-yoke was invented by Shigeo Shingo in the 1960’s. Shingo was one of the industrial engineers at Toyota and he was known to have introduced a zero quality control system which later resulted in the Poka-yoke. Baka yoke which means “fool-proofing” was the original term before Poka-yoke was introduced. It was changed to Poka-yoke in 11963 due to its unintended offensive meaning.

Implementing Poka-Yoke in a Manufacturing Process

In a mass production system, there are three recognized ways to guard against errors.

  1. The Contact Method

  2. The Fixed-Value Method

  3. The Motion Step Method

The contract method tests the physical attributes of the product, i.e., the shape, size, color, etc. in order to identify defects. The fixed-value or constant number method alerts the operator if a certain threshold is not attained in the production. The motion step, also known as the sequence method checks to confirm that laid-down steps were followed.

Benefits of Poka-Yoke

While it is widely known that poka-yoke guards against errors, the technology offers several other benefits. We discuss these benefits in the ensuing paragraphs.

  1. When you implement poka-yoke, you are able to unburden operators by eliminating monotonous operations.

  2. You spend less time on training workers if they abide by poka-yoke principles.

  3. Your products are not often rejected since they meet high quality standards.

  4. You are able to take pro-active measures against accidents or issues with the product.

  5. Your work environment is hailed as an improvement-oriented space.

  6. Poka-yoke ensures strict adherence to stipulated regulations. 


Since the inception of the poka-yoke system, several industries have enjoyed a tremendous increase in quality service delivery. In addition, customer satisfaction and employee retention levels are optimal. Apart from dramatically reducing the warranty costs incurred by companies, organizations are able to leverage this cost-efficient method of waste elimination and error prevention without going bankrupt. 

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