Shortly after the Covid-19 pandemic began in Germany, I adapted the work instructions for one of my customers for setting up a production line to meet the new requirements in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in production.
Essentially, I altered the sequence of the setup activities so that the employees did not have to be within 2 m of each other during setup (and face masks). These measures were rolled out following appropriate training.
With the help of work sampling recordings, I audited the implementation of these measures and frequently found that highly motivated colleagues repeatedly (50% of the observation) failed to observe the distance rules. Unfortunately, an organisational change does not have an ‘on/off’ effect.
My first idea of working with floor markings (luminous paint) had the following disadvantages:
I was in a shop last Monday and saw how around 20% of people overlooked the floor markings inside the shop. The employee there was so focused on his work that he was unable to react. That is why the markings did not impress me very much as a poka-yoke measure.
This model is known from monitoring the distance between vehicles while driving.
The hardware for this has already been miniaturised to such an extent that it can be used in many areas.
The hardware indicates (beep, flashing, etc.) when the spacing between several participants falls below a preconfigured distance.
Suggested implementation – idea (manufacturing is not one of my core competences): A wristband with a sensor, similar to in a gym.
Every employee gets one. The wristband beeps (vibrates and/or flashes) when people are closer to each other than the preconfigured distance.
The sensor in the wristband can work with Bluetooth, radio or inductive technologies.
Before using the wristbands, they must be configured accordingly at a station.
In addition, rule violations can be displayed live and anonymously on a monitoring screen (depending on the transmission options). This function would be helpful for managers who are responsible for ensuring compliance with these rules.
The system may not be used for tracing employee movements and creating movement profiles and must be anonymous. In addition, this should be agreed with the works council prior to implementation (Germany).
I am convinced that there are other ideas in the community about how the poka-yoke system could be used to create even better safety measures against Covid-19 infections in companies and shops.
Without a vaccine, we should try other methods.
Many of you are sure to be familiar with Hiroyuki Hirano’s book ‘Poka-Yoke: Improving Product Quality by Preventing Defects’, which contains 240 suggestions for implementing the poka-yoke system in industry.
All of us in this network can be economically affected by the pandemic. If many resources needed to provide a service fall ill, we cannot provide our service (even if the order situation is good).
If everyone contributes 1 or 2 ideas, we can certainly achieve a great deal and it is easier to find investors to industrialise individual ideas.
What kind of ideas do you have?