Mistake proofing (or as its more commonly known Error Proofing) is about preventing mistakes from disrupting production or wasting staff time in rectifying mistakes. Mistakes may still happen, but through using error proofing techniques the chances of them occurring (and time spent rectifying them) is greatly reduced.

Although the ultimate aim of mistake proofing is to get rid of mistakes, the secondary aim is to manage mistakes when they happen, before they can affect productivity and efficiency!

Mindset For Mistake Proofing

One fundamental aspect of mistake proofing is having the right mindset and this needs to be across the board, from the top echelons of management, right down to the factory floor.

Mistake proofing needs to become the predominant culture within the organisation, with everyone recognising that mistakes cost a lot of money in terms of the labour time lost in putting things right.

Get Back To Basics

In order to mistake proof, it is necessary to look at why mistakes happen and then what can be done to eliminate them. This can be quite a team bonding exercise, because those who are at the grass roots, will often have an in-depth knowledge of why mistakes occur and what could be done differently to ensure that they are prevented. This means that those at the grass roots are able to influence working practices and even design.

Mistake Proofing By Design

Mistake proofing can be done by design; designing the workstation differently, designing the machinery differently and so on. So it is not just about changing the way that the workforce work, it is about ensuring that they have the correctly designed equipment to work productively.

Mistake Proofing By Business Processes

For all personnel to be effective at mistake proofing, they have to understand how they fit in to all the business processes. Only when they understand exactly what needs to be done, how it is to be done and why it is being done, can they be effective in ensuring that they get it right first time.

Mistake Proofing Benefits

Mistake proofing ensures that a number of processes can be substantially reduced in terms of time. For a start, the eradication of mistakes means that there are fewer defective goods created. This means that goods do not have to be inspected as often.

This is important because not only is inspection time reduced, but there are no hold ups in terms of production; the production line simply flows, which makes good economic sense.

Operators are able to operate more efficiently because they do not have to inspect their work as often.

Much less time is spent rectifying defective goods and rejects or scrapped items are few and far between, resulting in less wastage, which in turn increases profits.

Since staff are all aware of the businesses processes involved in their particular area of activity or activities, then they are familiar with what they are doing and they also understand the processes. This means that when mistakes do happen, decision time as to how they can be rectified, before they cause a problem, can be reduced. In turn this creates less disruption to production.

In fact the benefits of mistake proofing are so great that some companies estimate that having undergone a ‘mistake proofing’ exercise, their productivity can rise as much as 50%, which is actually a substantial increase and can seriously increase the profit levels of any company. So mistake proofing offers a compelling economic argument for its implementation!

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