What is Andon?
In English terminologies, andon means “signal” or “sign” and it is a visual aid alerting and highlighting the required action. Just for example, a signal light is lighting in the manufacturing plant, implying that the line had been stopped by the operator or supervising staff due to some malfunctions and problems. It is also a principle and a typical tool to apply in the jidoka principle in the lean manufacturing- Jidoka also referred as autonomation that mean highlighting the problem that occurs and introduce an immediate countermeasure to top the problem occurrence.
At the Toyota, the andon principle is differently applied than how a person might see it in the manufacturing.
Where Andon Come From?
Andons’ word origin come from the word for paper lantern- a common Japanese ornament. At the bottom, it is the terminology used to refer an illuminated signal that notifies other problem within the production stream or quality-control. It is usually activated by a button or pull-chord, which able to automatically halt the production so that team can gather and apply the PDCS and the root cause analysis, then effectively and quickly apply a corresponding solution.
The warning light is incorporated to an easily visible and overhead signboard that can also identify the specific workstation or area where the problem had occurred. The nature and frequency if the occasional problems are being analyzed being a part of the Toyota program for the continual improvement and development. The andon principles need to be applied for any specific situation. The concept of the andon principle will look differently if you are not in the manufacturing industry. For example, the amazon applies andon in their customer service in such a way it makes sense.
Remember: It’s a method used to stop the process and allow the team to apply a root cause analysis and implement as countermeasure to the issue arise. Doing it is to prevent the process to continue produce damage to the defective parts.
Examples of Andon
The following are the examples of andon:
Flags and audio
Andon Signals and Board Components
The andon signals and board components may vary from the process to another process and applications for the andon system seems to be countless, generally be used to communicate the information to production plant just like the following:
Product line status: produced, stooped, idled or overload
Product settings like temperatures, weights, pressures, electricity, speeds, gas consumption, etc.
Different production goals or KPI’s such as planned production
Production volume, product produced and WPI
Call signs for the managers and supervisors to the certain area
Different times: downtime, current time, running period time
The Japanese manufacturers of auto and other organization that implemented ancon system in their process of production have seen it to be very useful because if the factors it contributed to the company cultures and also because of its efficiency and initiatives in lean manufacturing.
— Slimane Zouggari