This is a very interesting concept... avoiding mistakes by design, or mistake-proofing called the Poka Yoke principle. The principle is widely used in the industry and in many real life situations. Well known examples including connectors you can't insert the wrong way because they are asymetrical, or the gas nozzle example. Type of gas (leaded/unleaded for instance in Europe) corresponds to a different diameter making impossible to insert the leaded gas nozzle in a car with a catalyzator.
A more detailed definition can be found in wikipedia : Poka Yoke Article
I recently discovered an interesting example of Poka Yoke or similar: when you buy medication in Europe, you'll get pills enclosed in plastic with an aluminium cover that can much too easily be opened.
This is happening all the time, when you take a few pills with you for traveling for instance. The thing gets open, you lose the pill, a serious loss sometimes. If you buy similar pills in the US or in Canada, many times you will benefit from a different design.
Step one - the package
Step two - peeling off the first layer
Step three - getting the pill
The aluminium foil is protected by a plastic/paper kind of surface, making it impossible to open or scratch the packaging by mistake. You need to peel off the first layer and then you can get the pill out of the package. This is a very intelligent mistake-proof design and probably a reasonably cheap one.
For other well known examples of poka yoke, there is a very interesting site:
Poka Yoke Examples
Thursday, October 25, 2007
The first post on this blog about strange or interesting in this world will be about what I call traveling waters. I travel a lot and take planes on a regular basis. I discovered something very interesting during my recent flights about the water being served on board. We are talking about reducing energy consumption. One of the things we could do is to stop flying. This would help us gain a lot. But there are smaller things which seem a bit crazy to me. During one of my last flights from Europe to Hong Kong, I got water bottled in China (means that the USD1 bottle traveled twice on an intercontinental flight for nothing). On my flight back from Singapore to Europe, I of course got Evian water, bottled in France. Same issue. And during my last flight to Asia, I asked a can of Coke. The can was made in Mexico ! That can almost did a trip around the world. There must be thousands of such examples. Maybe we (the human race) could think of the really unnecessary things we do, before even addressing the half-unnecessary things we do for the fun...