What Does Poka-Yoke Mean?

Poka-yoke is a Japanese term for a process that is translated in English as “mistake proofing.” Various poka-yoke tools and techniques establish a better baseline for error-free processes. The concept of poka-yoke involves limiting the number of possible incorrect options, resulting in fewer (or no) user errors.


Techopedia Explains Poka-Yoke

Poka-yoke, which is commonly attributed to Toyota’s Shigeo Shingo, can refer to a technique or procedure, or it can be a physical tool. One easy example is a resource in a manufacturing environment that may work to eliminate manufacturing mistakes. If a company has a certain die-stamping tool that prevents incorrect machining, that would be a poka-yoke mechanism.

Other examples of poka-yoke resources include quality assurance departments and lean manufacturing processes that narrow the possibilities of how a result will turn out. In some cases, the poka-yoke mechanism is something that is used only in one way — such as an Ethernet cable that plugs into a specific port, or a floppy disk or compact disc that only goes into the machine one way. The concept of poka-yoke evolved from the concept of “idiot proofing” where creating less choice and design narrows the field of possible user mistakes. It has become a very useful idea in the technology world, especially in manufacturing, but also in creating design processes with end users in mind.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…