Poka-yoke: Striving for perfection!

Back in July, Brizo, the faucet manufacturing innovator flew more than 80 bloggers to Memphis for fun, food and festivities! We were treated to amazing accommodations at the historic Peabody Hotel, and toured the inspiring facilities of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, all of which were uh-mazing, but one take aways from this trip was “Poka-yoke”.

DFC Jackson Exterior C_012146

“The term poka-yoke was applied by Shigeo Shingo in the 1960s to industrial processes designed to prevent human errors. Shingo redesigned a process in which factory workers, while assembling a small switch, would often forget to insert the required spring under one of the switch buttons. In the redesigned process, the worker would perform the task in two steps, first preparing the two required springs and placing them in a placeholder, then inserting the springs from the placeholder into the switch. When a spring remained in the placeholder, the workers
knew that they had forgotten to insert it and could correct the mistake effortlessly.

Shingo distinguished between the concepts of inevitable human mistakes and defects in the production. Defects occur when the mistakes are allowed to reach the customer. The aim of poka-yoke is to design the process so that mistakes can be detected and corrected immediately, eliminating defects at the source.” ~Wikipedia

The Delta Faucet’s Jackson Plant , a little over an hours drive outside of Memphis was immaculate! I can say I had never been to factory, and all I could envision was that waving glove on the beer bottle from Laverne and Shirley… This was far from “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!”

The plant was an amazing sight to behold… It was like staring into the interior workings of a Rolex, with hundreds of working parts all functioning in perfect precision. Our tour was guided through every aspect of the faucet assembly… From the solid brass rods used in the interior roughs, to the gigantic packaging and shipping operation, the plant’s motto of Poka-yoke is evident. Nothing can proceed to the next manufacturing step unless it passes inspection from the previous. Machines cannot function, a green light will not be indicated if there is even the slightest flaw or variance… This is the definition of quality control.

Brass Rod C_011106-2 Gauging C_011365 Brizo Packaging Odin C_011515 CDC Brizo Box C_013279
Now nothing in this world is perfect, and it’s a fact, but with Poka-yoke in place, it sure can reduce the odds of human error and an unpleasant experience. Our guide said, “A product can be 99.9% accurate, but if you’re the .1%, it’s not acceptable. Poke-yoke helps turn that into 100%”.

As a designer, my role is to provide clients with the perfect marriage of aesthetics and quality, but when I can rest assured that all the quality concerns have already been addressed, then that leaves me to truly focus in on the design of things… The Brizo brand makes my job, a much more enjoyable one, when I can specify these products knowing they client will get something gorgeous, and well made!

Thank you to Delta/Brizo Faucets for an amazing learning experience! Plant photos provided by Brizo.