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Andon System: Decrease your Response Time

Andon System
The Andon System is part of the visualization methodology and increases the transparency of your processes on your shop floor instantly! The Andon system is part of the Experts lean tools (www.lean-toolbox.org). But how does it work and how do you apply the Andon System in your factory?

The Andon System

As part of the Toyota Production System, the Andon acts as a tool to implement simple symbolism on the shop floor to inform engineers and Operators about process or machine deviations and defects. It helps you and your team to easily identify failures or discrepancies. The term Andon Cord is a lane at the assembly line to let operators give signals on line issues. The Andon Board is a screen or visual board visualizing all lamps and signals from a particular production area.

To get started, let’s separate the two Terms Andon Cord and Andon Board for now, and see how we can implement them into your processes. Outside a factory, we see tons of Andon Systems all around us: One of these examples are sirens (e. g. on a Police car). An andon-like system can be found quite often outside the service or manufacturing industry. For example, at the police car or ambulance. The siren indicates pedestrians and traffic participants to take care and to stay at a distance to that particular place. But it is also the audible alarm giving others the signal: Take care, something happened! – But keep in mind: Most important is to keep it simple!

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If you get overwhelmed with tons of signals, nobody would recognize real issues inside your factory. Focus on a handful of items you would like to visualize and keep track on. Why do you have to implement an Andon system? Visualization – The Andon approach is a certain approach of visualizing equipment parameters and line status. The easier you visualize the necessary parameters the better your team can react accordingly. While machines can be programmed to give a signal, on assembly lines the team members and operators have to trigger the signal. Quickly response to failures – Equipment and line parameters become visualized right at the moment issues or malfunctions occur. Responsible engineers can react far faster and will be informed about the particular malfunction before they arrive at the machine or line. Reduce waste and scrap – A major consequence of the quick response time to malfunctions is a reduction of waste and scrap. The better and faster your team is informed about any defects, the better and faster you can get rid of them and get the machine running.

How do you implement an Andon System?

As just said, we should first split the two terms Andon Cord and Andon Board. Let us start with the term Andon Cord. So how do you implement an Andon system?

The Andon Cord Principle

As you can see on the picture, the Andon cord is a simple cord bow-taut above the heads of your operators. Once something happens, the operator can inform all other line operators and engineers. One of the most typical application of Andon is the Andon Cord. The Andon Cord helps operators to stop assembly lines once they are delayed because of several reasons or equipment does not work accordingly. The Andon Cord is stretched above the operators, close enough to be caught by operators but hanging high enough to not disturb them during their operations.

The Andon Board is a device or screen visualizing parameters of your shop floor. A similar example are apps on your mobile. Just imagine a machine would send you a message to your mobile every time an error occurs. Your mobile than would act as an Andon Board. Sure, this is not a good example but illustrates the idea of an Andon Board. Make sure to use something simple and working. Make sure to place the board or screen somewhere your engineers or people responsible for the line easily can see. Cluster the screen like a matrix, each row represents a production line, each defined issue, like missing material or machine breakdown.

Each time an error occurs, music will be played. Your engineers then can see the issue and production line easily on that board once they hear the music. Alternatively, use different songs for different kinds of issue. Let us recap: Similar to your smart phone, the Andon Board can be a screen or a Visualization Board displaying the status of equipment and line details of a defined production area. Once the operators or machines indicating a malfunction, the screen signals the particular area and gives a first hint on the issue, for example a broken tool, injured operators or quality risks.

Further Reading

Methods of Lean Production – The Lean Toolbox


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