The Value Of Poka-Yokes - From The Lean Logistics Intern

The Value Of Poka-Yokes - From The Lean Logistics Intern

As a Logistics Management major at Central Michigan University, I have completed my core logistics courses headed by Dr. Zac Williams and Dr. Robert Cook. It was here that I was challenged to memorize Japanese terms such as kaizen, gemba, jidoka, and poka-yoke. I understood their meanings and where they fit into the Toyota Production System (TPS) “house of lean” diagram.

However, it House of Leanwasn’t until I joined LeanCor Supply Chain Group as an intern that I could truly see these practices applied in logistics every day.

As I enter my fourth week as an intern, I can’t help but notice and appreciate the strong application of poka-yokes. A poka-yoke, by definition, is a simple trigger that detects an error has occurred or is about to occur, and notifies the process controller or stops the process from moving forward. Poka-yokes essentially make a process error-proof.

Working for a logistics provider responsible for countless operations, it is no secret that I have made several mistakes as a new team member. Luckily with the implementation of poka-yokes, most of my mistakes have been foreseen and therefore prevented. Without poka-yokes, my mistakes would have been undetected and possibly passed on to the customer.

Poka-yokes allow for quality to be implemented at the source, or jidoka (the right pillar of the TPS house). With the immediate detection of errors, I am able to make corrections instantly. Once I reach the end of a particular process, it would be redundant and unnecessary to double check my work, because if something were incorrect I would have been notified. Not only does a poka-yoke save time, but it also insures quality at the source.

In the LeanCor Operations Center, poka-yokes detect simple mistakes that otherwise could be extremely problematic. For example, when exporting international containers on LeanCor's web-based software Weblinx, each container must be unique. If there are duplicates, the system will not let me upload the file. I get stopped several times a day with messages from our system telling me to go back and correct an error. Poka-yokes are highly beneficial as they account for the inevitable human errors that transpire on a daily basis.

There are many poka-yoke systems implemented throughout warehouses and manufacturing facilities. Below is a short video on the LeanCor YouTube Channel about poka-yokes implemented in the Lean Logistics Center in Amana, Iowa.


I have also been noticing the countless poka-yokes that I encounter on a daily basis outside of the workplace. For example, Microsoft Office features the red squiggly line that indicates a spelling error, as well as the auto message that asks you to save your work before closing the program. These everyday poka-yokes have saved many long nights of term paper work!

Written by Julia Bonk, Lean Logistics Associate at LeanCor

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LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.

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