Andon Systems use visual messages used to highlight problems in a manufacturing process. This guide explains the key elements and what is signaled.
Andon is a Japanese term. In this language, it means either “lamp” or “light.” However, in lean manufacturing, Andon is a tool that is designed to inform and alert operators and teams about problems that exist in the manufacturing or production process.
Andon systems are a vital element of the Jidoka principle and how it can be applied in the workplace. Jidoka refers to automated parts of the business process without the use of human interaction. To ensure that this can be completed effectively, it is necessary to ensure that problems can be immediately pinpointed and corrected.
Andon systems have taken many forms over the years. The setup of an Andon system will largely depend on the process that it is used for. For instance, in Toyota factories, Andon cords are utilized. These are pulled to immediately raise an issue in the production line. It then results in a signal being sent directly to a supervisor.
They can then investigate the problem by visiting the area where the cord was pulled. This is referred to as performing genchi genbutsu.
What Information Is Signaled Through An Andon System?
In the past, the information that could be signaled through an andon system was fairly basic. Essentially, the system was designed to alert someone of a problem. It could not directly highlight what the issue was or how it needed to be resolved.
The most common form of the andon system originally was either typical cords or lights. These days, andon systems use complex boards.
The boards can provide at a quick glance information on production statuses and will easily highlight where an issue has become a problem.
Why Are Andon Signals Useful?
Andon systems are useful because they provide a visual method that quickly provides information and ensures that swift action can be completed. The signals provide a clear representation of the overall production status as it exists in a business model.
The Color Code
There is usually a color code that is utilized as a part of an Andon system to keep things as simple and easy to understand as possible. This can include green, yellow, and red. Green represents that production is normal. If a light is yellow, this means a problem has occurred and it can not be easily identified.
If the color is red, then a problem has occurred which has stopped production. If this is the case, then an operator might need to contact the supervisor to correct an issue and get things moving once more.
As well as ensuring that issues with time wastage can be eliminated, the Andon system can also be used to promote high levels of transparency in a team. Team members can report an issue without being concerned about judgment or blame.
The main emphasis on the system is to resolve the problem rather than point fingers and question who is responsible.
We hope this helps you understand the key information that can be signaled through an Andon system.