The Importance and Value of Mistake Proofing

Have there been mistakes made in your business operations? The answer is obviously yes. Whether mistakes happen while an employee is stacking pallets on warehouse floor, or while working on an assembly line out in the factory, mistakes are simply a part of life. There will always be some sort of human error value when humans are working, it is just human nature. However, there are tactics and tips to help avert mistakes or at least minimize the occurrence of mistakes. The term “mistake proofing” often refers to a change that is made to a particular operation which helps the operator either eliminate or reduce mistakes made.

Benefits of Mistake Proofing

There are many benefits of mistake proofing, with the obvious being fewer mistakes made, thus creating a better and more reliable end product. For instance, businesses that incorporate some sort of mistake proofing often experience greater levels of customer satisfaction, higher levels of productivity, and enhanced employee competence. There are different types of mistake proofing, with one method being to focus primarily on employee training and the clear postings of operation instructions. However, even a better mistake proofing tactic involves the uses of checkpoints or devices that actually warn others if a problem is occurring, almost like safety nets so to say. For example, if an employee is working on a busy assembly line and rotates between three different parts and suddenly becomes confused about which part comes next, there should be a diagram posting within eyesight to clearly depict the order along with a checkpoint inspection that is done once the part reaches the next employee on the line. The checkpoint evaluation does not need to be rigorous or overly time-consuming, but instead just a one-second ritual that the employee does before adding his or her addition to the item on the line as well. This way the part being produced is checked for any sort of abnormalities or wrong parts multiple times before it is considered a finished product. These checkpoint evaluations can be quickly done by employees on an assembly line or done by certain machinery along the way. Whichever way this type of mistake proofing is put into action, make sure it is working and producing accurate and effective results through consistent monitoring.

Get Started!

One of the first steps in beginning a mistake proofing program is to gather all employees involved in the process to be evaluated, and brainstorm ideas that would be feasible and helpful to stop mistakes from happening. Don’t just settle for one or two different solutions, instead “think outside of the box” and aim for at least five to six different solutions that could benefit the root problem. Once solutions have been identified, it is time to consider what the probability will be if any suggested solutions really fix the root problem (the mistake happening). Run through the root problem from beginning to end with each suggested solution and determine which one could be implemented effectively and in a timely manner. Then test the best solution and apply the solution multiple times under numerous circumstances, actually try to make the solution fail. If the mistake proofing solution fails, it is not the right fix. However, if after multiple attempts the solution still holds true, develop an implementation plan. The implementation plan should include details such as who is in charge of the actions, any additional resources that may be needed, and when the actual mistake proofing plan will begin. Lastly, enjoy the benefits that mistake proofing can add to your business processes.

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