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How to Establish an Error proofing process according to IATF 16949

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Quality Management System (QMS) should demand ongoing improvement, but IATF 16949 takes it a step further by requiring problem-solving and error-proofing processes as part of the standard for continual improvement. 

Error-proofing is a methodical strategy for assuring product quality across the whole production process. It gives businesses a tool to enhance their production or operational procedures in order to avoid particular errors, which lead to defects. Through fact-based issue solutions, organisations can identify error causes using error-proofing techniques. The goal of error-proofing is to eliminate faults that occur somewhere in the production process, rather than focusing on finding and counting defects.

What is a mistake (Error)?

Establishing an error-proofing process, also known as mistake-proofing or Poka-yoke, is an essential part of ensuring product quality and preventing defects. IATF (International Automotive Task Force) emphasizes the need for effective error-proofing techniques to minimize the occurrence of errors and improve overall process performance. Here are the steps to establish an error-proofing process according to IATF:

Due to the human sensitivity built into our goods, errors are unintended, accidental blunders done by individuals. These mistakes lead to those "once in a while" flaws that we always find challenging to control. Accidental mistakes are not just possible; they are also unavoidable and frequently occur.

Have you ever forgotten to turn off the coffee maker, run out of gas or locked your keys inside your car? Errors and mistakes occur frequently in our daily lives. They are challenging to prevent, and it is even more challenging to pinpoint the cause. Are you certain that you won't make any mistakes if you have to write your name 1500 times?

Errors are difficult to prevent not only in the job but also in our daily lives since they are so prevalent. Some of the common errors made in daily lives are riding a bike with an open side stand and driving a car without a seat belt. 

Examples of mistakes made at work include:

  • Missing components, such as fasteners, labels, orifice tubes, which were forgotten during assembly.

  • Incorrectly built parts that are loose, upside down, or out of alignment, such as brackets that are backwards, seals that are out of alignment, screws that are loose, and labels that are upside down...

  • Improper processing, such as placing an item that was rejected during testing in the incorrect pile

  • Incorrect parts - selecting the incorrect seal, label, bracket, or case from a model mix selection, and retrieving and assembling it.

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What is required by the IATF 16949:2016 standard ?

The ongoing improvement requirements include requirements for error-proofing processes, and an entire sub clause (10.2.4) is devoted to them. According to the standard, 

“The organization shall have a documented process to determine the use of appropriate error-proofing methodologies. Details of the method used shall be documented in the process risk analysis (such as PFMEA) and test frequencies shall be documented in the control plan. The process shall include the testing of error-proofing devices for failure or simulated failure. Records shall be maintained. Challenge parts, when used, shall be identified, controlled, verified, and calibrated where feasible. Error-proofing device failures shall have a reaction plan.”

One liner explanation of requirements:

The procedure must test the error-proofing mechanisms for actual or simulated failure, and any failures of the error-proofing devices should be met with a response strategy. Finally, it goes without saying that records of this procedure should be kept.

How can we ensure accuracy?

Error-proofing is the process of being aware of, detecting, and preventing errors that could have a negative impact on our clients (defects) and employees (injuries) and cause WASTE!

A) By Awareness:- Recognising the possibility of error, alerting others to it, and designing the product or process' design to account for or prevent it.

B) Through Detection:- Identifying the potential for error, warning others of it, and incorporating it into the design of the product or process to account for or prevent it.

C) By Implementation Prevention:- Removing the potential for the error to happen in the first place.

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“Poka- Yoke” System:-“Poka-Yoke” is a Japanese word which translates to "mistake-proofing" or Fool Proofing” in English. It is a technique used to either detect or prevent errors or mistakes during a process. It aims to design processes or systems in a way that makes it impossible or difficult for errors to happen, or it provides immediate feedback to the operator when an error occurs. “Poka-Yoke” is an important concept in both lean manufacturing and quality management, including the requirements of IATF 16949.

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Identify Potential Errors: Begin by identifying potential errors or mistakes that can occur throughout the manufacturing or production processes. This can be done through process analysis, failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA), or by learning from past incidents or quality issues.

  1. Analyse Causes and Consequences: Analyse the causes and consequences of each identified error. Understand why the error may occur, its impact on product quality, safety, and customer satisfaction, and any potential risks associated with it.

  2. Design Error-Proofing Devices or Measures: Once the errors are identified and analysed, design and implement error-proofing devices or measures to prevent or detect those errors. These can include physical mechanisms, sensors, visual aids, checklists, warning systems, or process controls that make it impossible or highly unlikely for the error to occur.

  3. Test and Validate: Test the error-proofing devices or measures to ensure their effectiveness in preventing or detecting errors. Validate their performance through pilot testing, simulations, or real-life scenarios to verify that they work as intended and provide the desired level of error prevention.

  4. Document Procedures: Document the error-proofing procedures and include them in the organization's quality management system documentation. Clearly define the steps to be followed, responsibilities, and any necessary training or instructions for employees.

  5. Implement and Monitor: Implement the error-proofing process in the production environment and continuously monitor its effectiveness. Regularly review and analyse data, conduct audits, and solicit feedback from employees to identify any opportunities for improvement or new error-proofing measures.

  6. Continuous Improvement: Foster a culture of continuous improvement by encouraging employees to contribute their ideas for error prevention and promoting a proactive approach to identify and eliminate potential errors. Regularly review the error-proofing process and make adjustments as needed to adapt to changing circumstances or new risks.

Remember, error-proofing should be integrated into the overall quality management system and considered at every stage of the production process to achieve the highest level of product quality, safety, and customer satisfaction.


Error proofing is also called Poka Yoke or mistake proofing. It is an essential part of ensuring product quality and preventing defects or we can say it is a methodology which focuses on mistake proofing. It means it is a process which focuses on capturing or eliminating unintentionally mistakes done by operators or other persons within a process.

IATF (International Automotive Task Force) emphasizes the need for effective error-proofing techniques to minimize the occurrence of errors and improve overall process performance to enhance the customer experience, minimize the cost of poor quality and elimination of in process rejection.

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