Poke Yoke Mistake-Proofing in the Mining Connector Business
Mistake proofing and making something foolproof is the ultimate goal of a LEAN production system. We want to make our parts, assemblies, and processes in such a manner that is impossible for them to be installed or assembled incorrectly. This goes way beyond the standard work procedures, visual color mapping of parts, assembly protocols, etc. Poke Yoke means that we have an engineered solution to physically prevent incorrect assembly or other errors in our manufacturing facility and in the field. This ensures that have done our utmost to eliminate any operator error in our processes.
A great example of this in our everyday lives is a plug on the back of a computer. They are usually color coded and they also have a plug configuration that will not let them connect to any other connection on the computer.
Another example is that the automobile manufacturers use this concept for the wiring connections under the hood for the fuel injections system, IAC motor, ignition coils, etc. All of these have a distinct and separate connector configuration to eliminate errors due to connecting the wrong competent to the engine control computer.
FloMAX used this non-interchangeable concept to eliminate fluid filling mistakes when we invented the Non-interchangeable ¾” series of connectors. We not only made these physically impossible to mate the different connectors together we also color-coded them with a high-quality anodized finish. FloMAX invented this concept of the non-interchangeable connector and introduced this to the mining industry years ago. We offer 6 different size configurations and nine different colors are available to meet your mining needs.
We used this same concept when we came out with our 1” High Flow Connectors as they are all machined to not allow any other color to connect to them except the corresponding colored receiver or nozzle. We have these in seven standard colors and sizes to fit almost any fluid need.
We have had a few requests to make a non-interchangeable fuel nozzle to prevent cross-contamination of different fuels and to prevent fuel theft from unauthorized users. To accommodate these requests, we have a new Non-Interchangeable Fuel Nozzle and Receiver that accomplishes this goal by means of a special fuel nozzle nose and receiver that will only fit each other. You can now have your trucks outfitted with the special receiver that will only fit your specific fuel nozzle. Our special fuel nozzle flows over 200 GPM just like our FNBL and FN600 nozzle but will only connect to our special receiver. We also have customers that use this prevent diesel fuel contamination from biodiesel and standard diesel fuels with great success.
We are excited about our new Flat Face connector that uses a unique and patented ball lock keying mechanism that prevents connecting with wrong size connector. We have many innovate and unique design concepts within this new design of connectors. In keeping with our LEAN philosophy, all of these 15 different size connectors use the same common parts except for one key part on each receiver and nozzle. In doing this we can minimize our parts count, reduce our WIP, greatly reduce our machine time, utilize Quick Change Over concepts in our shop and greatly reduce our inventory management time. By using our Design for Six Sigma concepts we accomplished a truly revolutionary new flat face design with less parts than a standard connector.
A key element in mistake proofing is that it cannot be optional.
Getting Started: Mistake Proofing Failsafe AKA: Poke Yoke
Like any problem we need to start with a structured methodology to ensure that we are on the right path to a solution.
1. Create a Flow Map, Study the Process
2. Document the errors and anomalies in the process
3. Perform a detailed root cause analysis of the error. You can use a variety of tools such as FMEA, 5- Why’s, Fishbone diagram, Current Reality Tree, etc.
4. Brainstorm Mistake Proofing ideas with the team. Remember the following; a) try not to spend b) make it simple c) the fix cannot be optional d) measuring and inspecting are not mistake proofing e) do not allow operators to make a decision as to use the device or not
5. Implement the solution
6. Analyze the solution to see if meets the criteria to solve the problem. If it does not start go back to the brainstorming step.
Remember to ELMINATE, SIMPLIFY OR AUTOMATE in your steps to implement Mistake Proofing or Poke Yoke. As we start doing these exercises you and your team will become more proficient at not only implementing these mistake proofing ideas but also in seeing other places in the factory that you can further enhance with these concepts.