Poka yokes in flight catering operations

I visited DHL’s flight catering centre at London Heathrow airport yesterday for their ‘lighthouse tour’.  These tours are the way in which the company shares best practice with managers from across their different operating divisions.   It highlights the features of the operation that make it successful. I filmed an operations video whilst there, clips from which I hope to be able to post on this blog, once we have edited it.

In this complex operating environment, it is not surprising to see poka yokes in use (see chapter 9 of the book).  Some examples follow…

  • All trolleys that are loaded onto aircraft have a sticker on them to identify which flights they are on, and other data about the trolleys contents.  But some stickers are white, to show that the trolley should be off loaded at the destination, whereas others are yellow, to show that the trolley should remain on the plane for return to its point of origin.
  • There’s a mirror at the employee entrance on which is engraved “You are looking at the person responsible for your health and safety”.
  • All tray layup work stations have photographs of the different tray settings.
  • All meals are colour coded by day of production to help ensure that no out-of-date meals are loaded onto planes.
  • Meal trays with special meals on them (vegetarian, kosher, halal, etc.) are also colour coded so that cabin crew can more easily distinguish between them.
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