How to reduce Variation in Chinese Manufacturing?

Picture of George Tewson
George Tewson


FFS I said Poka yoke not Pokemon

Variation. It’s a term that brings a mixture of baggage with it, in this blog post, we are going to be discussing what variation is and how to reduce variation in Chinese manufacturing. 

What is variation?  

Manufacturing variation is the difference between the measure of a character and its target value. Excessive variation puts a characteristic outside the upper or lower limits of the target specification. 
Clear, right….. variation simply put is how different something is to the same characters on its counterpart, of the same component.
That’s why standards are important. Standards are used as the set of laws that are adhered to, and ensuring variation standards are at a suitable target. 
Variation leads to wastage, a subsequent cost to manufacturing and poorer quality. It’s a KPI of manufacturing facilities worldwide, ensuring that the variation of components produced does not wander off a mean target.

Performance against variation:

As highlighted variation is an important thing to think about when in any manufacturing environment. Here’s how we link it directly to manufacturing in China. The majority of the time, manufacturing facilities in China work with a high degree of autonomy with the sales of items coming from people like you. People who have retail outlets on Amazon, Shopee and eBay

So how is it you can get a true idea of what the situation on the ground. Well, a great way is measuring production variation. 

I am a great fan of Poka Yoke…

What is a Poke Yoke?

No, a Poke Yoke is not some quality measuring Pokemon that spawns every time there is a manufacturing defect (how cool would that be though?) However, like Pokemon, it is a Japanese term, it translates to ‘mistake-proofing’ or ‘inadvertent error prevention’. 

It’s a great tactic to employ when you have a critical measurement that needs to be correct, all the time. 

The fundamentals of Poka-Yoke stop the ability for variation occurring meaning that the quality is vastly improved if you can design something that cannot be assembled incorrectly. Meaning, its Poka-Yoke. 

There are a few ways you can employ similar tactics a go, no go gauge is also a great tool to ensure quality is robust.

Ensure that when you have a remote manufacturing sites; as many sites are in China, you employ error-proofing tactics in your set up.

Error proofing

Step 1. Prevention

Step 2. Facilitation

Step 3. Detection (and mitigation)

 Whichever tactic you employ to ensure error proofing, ensure the manufacturing facility measures it and drive the KPI. Ensure that they provide you with this metric.
What if you don’t have the time to come to China and still want to ensure that you can actively ensure that quality and error-proofing are incorporated into your manufacturing?
Well, we luckily discussed this in a previous blog post.


If you want to have a read further about the services that we offer to drive quality into your manufacturing in China then have a look at the services we offer HERE.

Or if you just want to get in touch and have a chat. Get in touch here. We would love to talk and get to know your Chinese dreams and how to make them a reality.