Poka-Yoke: A Misunderstood Concept
Shigeo Shingo introduced the concept of poka-yoke in 1961, when he was an industrial engineer at Toyota Motor Corporation. The initial term was baka-yoke, which means ‘fool-proofing’. In 1963, a worker at Arakawa Body Company refused to use baka-yoke mechanisms in her work area, because of the term’s dishonourable and offensive connotation. Hence, the term was changed to poka-yoke, which means ‘mistake-proofing’.
Poka-yokes are mechanisms used to mistake-proof an entire process. Ideally, poka-yokes ensure that proper conditions exist before actually executing a process step, preventing defects from occurring in the first place. Where this is not possible, poka-yokes perform a detective function, eliminating defects in the process as early as possible.
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