Poka Yoke  – Mistake-proof applied to our daily life

We have already written about Poka-yoke, “a Japanese term which translates to mistake proofing, that can be any mechanism or device that helps an operator to avoid mistakes”.

Although Poka Yoke is a lean manufacturing tool coined by Shigeo Shingo in the 1960s, it is also present in our everyday lives.

Hoping to help you understand this concept, we have gathered eight examples of error-proofing on our daily life, which can prevent us from making spelling errors or to get injured.

Outlet in Sink, to prevent overflow
Many sinks have a hole on the top, right below the pipe. This hole is a protective mechanism, preventing water from overflowing if the drain is somehow blocked and/or if you forget to close the tap.

Household appliances, not working with an open door

You can not operate most of the household appliances, such as microwaves, dishwashers or washing machines until the door is closed. Sometimes the door is locked while the machine is working, in some other cases if you open the door, it stops working immediately.
This mechanism which prevents machines from running with an open door is an example of a control function which prevents the process from starting until the necessary conditions are met.

Dialysis Machines air bubble detector
Dialysis Machines perform the function of the kidneys and are usually used for patients with Chronic Kidney Disorder. It has an efficient air bubble detector which works as a safety device for the machine to operate, in order to ensure that no air bubble passes to the patient’s body.


Car Keys
Cars are protected with many safety measures. Usually, you are not able to remove the car keys if the transmission is in an unsafe mode. As technology keeps advancing, so does the safety mechanisms developed in order to keep the driver and passengers as safe as possible. Auto breaking, traffic alerts and radar systems, autopilots and parking sensors are some of the features that you can easily find in a car.


Spell checking and dictionaries

Computers and phones are usually equipped with spell-checking tools, which alert us to spelling and grammatical errors. This is probably one of the most common error-proofing systems in our everyday lives.


Pen with a retractable tip

Some pens function in such a way that you cannot clip it to your pocket with the tip still out. This prevents the tip of the pen from shredding your pockets.


Energy activated by a key card
In some hotel rooms, energy consumption and the fact that some hotel guests forget to switch off the lights and electronics, are controlled by a key card activated time-switch placed inside the room. These switches are activated by placing your key card in a specific holder. Once you leave the room and need to take the key card with you, energy is automatically switched off.


USB plugs and other cables

Some cables and connectors fit into their respective slots with precision and accuracy and they can only be inserted into the right outlet, in one orientation. Some even have pins which match an exact number of holes in an exact place.
This is probably one of the most classic methods of error-proofing, since it prevents people from connecting the wrong cables, in the wrong places.

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