If you have spent any time in the automotive industry you have probably spent time working within a system called the 5S. Continue reading


How do new ideas occur to us? What is the secret mixture that enables this spark that creates something new?  I have long wondered this, including when watching my son build things that I found interesting, and with no clear sign of what of the source of that idea that became reality.  I saw him build things with Lego blocks, and I watched him build things at an online game called Roblox.  In both instances it made me think, what is the source?

The same is true for my own life, especially my work life.  I have been part of groups that have produced 7 US patents and other intellectual property.  Each time was so different it is difficult to discern an underlying theme that made this creation possible or at least facilitated.  What can be said in each instance to varying degrees, is there was a perceived difficulty or problem, some desired end state that was presently not … Continue reading

Mura (unevenness)

The unevenness or mura of the work wreak havoc on our work. Project demands fluctuate and working on multiple projects likewise creates or exacerbates the unevenness. In product development work can get heavy around gate reviews as the project must accomplish certain expectations and milestones are reviewed in the gate activities.  One functional department may not be at capacity, but anther may be running beyond capacity.  The arrival of the work from one department stacks up as input to the next department.  This then creates muda as we have waste in the form of over production.  All of this unevenness has impact on schedule and the people performing the work, and sometimes specialized equipment as the demand fluctuates wildly.

Material that our development team will use may also be subjected to this unevenness, think prototype parts, upon which we will test and learn about the product for the next iteration of the development loop.  When lead times are long, we may … Continue reading

Poke Yoke

Poke Yoke

Jon M Quigley

There are a set of tools and techniques that come with developing products for the automotive industry and are part of the Advanced Product Quality Planning for the product.  We have written about APQP or some years and have decades of experience in this approach to product development.  In general, the phases of the project are described as:

Voice of Customer Product Development Process Development Product Validation Process Validation Launch Feedback



We have a discussion board that supports questions you may have regarding APQP.  Today, we will ruminate on the technique known as Poke Yoke, which I heard an Supplier Quality Assurance professional refer to as “goof proofing”.  While largely benefiting manufacturing, these considerations and implementation is achieved in the development work, otherwise we end up doing considerable rework of the developed product to optimize manufacturing or field service work. Rather, we will use design for manufacturing (DFM) or design for manufacturing … Continue reading

Automation and Paradigm Shift

The Manufacturing Innovation Network Breakfast went great last week.  Nearly all of the seats were full, and there was a plentiful of discussion afterward.   The discussion was about the role of automation in the not so distant future.  We talked about how automation and drones are now even working in the fields.

Robots came about due to advanced manufacturing techniques and now or very soon, robots will be heavily in the employ of advanced manufacturing.  The consequences of this will likely be the need for fewer people for the manual labor aspects of manufacturing.  However, that does not mean that people are out of the equation. To be successful, those that remain must have a variety of skills. We will discuss more on the people aspect later.  The real discussion point is the notion that we can use our present experience to infer how this will impact our organization.  So far, organizations have automated portions of their manufacturing.  The portion … Continue reading

Quality requires more than Fix Your Own Sandbox

Recent events have prompted us to preempt our CMMI requirements management series for this waste of company resources that we can only attribute to an overly politicized work environment and fear.  The downside of functional or siloed organizations is demonstrated in the sentiment “fix your own sandbox”.

Complications of the Organization

In general, the work of our organization is not getting less complicated.  For an organization to be operating at peak capability and delivering a quality product or service, may require numerous exchanges between a variety of departments (at least if you are functionally structured) and people.

Fix Your Own Sandbox (Quality)

I have heard, at least once from managers regarding quality and process improvement, that we should focus on our own part of the sandbox and fix only those things that are directly under our control.  That is all well and good, perhaps, when the quality concern or dysfunction is within our department only.  However, what if the problems … Continue reading

Poka Yoke Revisited

We continue the exploration of the Poka Yoke post.  In the last post we discovered in building the product (late iteration) we have found that building the product has some undue complexity.  Upon further exploration we find that the design engineers suggested spending some time to Poka Yoke these devices.  The project hierarchy decided to not spend the time and money.  So…….

Now it has become apparent that building this product in customer volumes, in a manufacturing facility with strict time constraints to build and revulsion of rework required some alteration.  It is too late to “add” this scope to the project, so instead, another project is spawned to adjust the design to address this easy to build incorrect concern.  This subsequent project will not be available at the start of production.

How is this solution better than addressing the issue in the original project?  There will likely be miss builds of the product that will require dis-assembly to … Continue reading

Poka Yoke

There is nothing like a real life story for demonstration.  This is a true story on product design, and a technique called Poka Yoke. In this case, the product is a complicated set of vehicle systems.  There are a number of pressure sensing elements, all the same type of sensor and distributed in a relatively common space.  Each of these sensors is connected electrically to other parts of the system and enables certain sets of features.  The wires are connected to each of these sensors discretely, that is, there are separate connectors and wires going to each of these sensors.

During the prototype development the entirety of the system is produced. The numerous subsystems are put together to make the functioning end product.  This system entirety will then be tested to assess the capability of the design. In the late phases of the project and product, these prototypes builds transition from engineering related to more manufacturing skills.  It is during … Continue reading

Risk Management Class

Risk Management Class


The course will train managers how to use assessment and prioritization techniques in creating a risk management plan. The course will also cover ways to evoke the potential risks from a team, and how to objectively assess the impact.



Project Management of Complex and Embedded Systems

Our book Project Management of Complex and Embedded Systems


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