Error proofing entails minimizing the opportunities the operator or human interaction into the process has of making a mistake that can cause any type of waste , downtime or quality issues. Poka yoke are error proofing controls or engineering solutions to error proof work tasks, processes and functions in order to avoid costly mistakes.
Error proofing can sometimes lead to loss of skills and operator focus on key items as error proofing is commonly achieved by automation and standardization of tasks. These two things are preferred solutions to avoid problems and will most definitely do so, but they can take control and opportunity to rectify an issue away from the operator and when the situation does get out of control the operators will almost certainly require engineering or technical support.
Items like checklists are very good error proofing measures when they are done properly and not just as a tick and flick exercise. Continuous training and upskilling with OPL's and review of SOP's can also help in avoiding operator errors. Most errors are made when operators are new to the plant or process, become complacent and forgetful of skills which are not used as often.
There is a fine line between error proofing and just automating and reducing human intervention into the process. The more human intervention is reduced the more management is reliant on plant, equipment, and control systems to operate the plant efficiently and control the quality of output and the greater the incentive to de-man and continue automating the process further.
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