What is Andon Board?

Andon Board is a display board used in the manufacturing industry. It indicates the existence of a problem at a specific workstation. The issue might be technical or related to quality.

The worker can push the button and notify the managers or other workers when he finds an issue.

Andon Board

The term “Andon” comes from the Japanese word for the paper lantern.

It was first discovered by Toyota, which utilized the Jidoka quality control method. It has now become an indispensable part of the Lean approach.

Jidoka is a Japanese term. The meaning of ‘Autonomation‘ is ‘Automation with a human touch.

The system gives more authority to the workers. For example, they can stop production when they detect any particular defect.

Initially, these were light signals in the manufacturing process. They signaled the status based on the color.

A warning light on the vehicle’s dashboard is one familiar example of andon. It indicates when the fuel tank is getting close to empty.

Over time these boards have evolved and are with far more superior technology. Modern alert systems use different modes to highlight the issues. The pre-recorded verbal messages, text, and other graphic elements are a few examples.

Though displays are sophisticated, their purpose has not changed, that is, efficient communication and real-time status of the plant floor.

What is the example of real-life andon?

Your car’s dashboard is the best example of andon board. It warns you about the existence of fuel, whether it is full or getting finished.
One more example is when a xerox machine or scanner has problems, it warns the operator with a signal light.

Andon types

Operator controlled andons

Manual operators in the assembly line trigger the andons. They may do it by using static buttons, pulling the cord, or using a voice command in a few modern systems.

Machine controlled andons

These are automatically activated andons. When criteria fixed in the assembly line are not met or lacking, it is triggered.

Andon colors and their meanings

Anodon colors and meanings
  • Green, production is running correctly and will move to the next level
  • Yellow, problem detected, the operator needs to take assistance from an expert to fix the problem.
  • Red, production stopped, since the solution for the problem is not identified and needs further investigation.
  • White, production run completed, next run could be scheduled if needed.
  • Blue, defective unit, this need not stop the process, even count of defective units could be displayed.

Uses of andon in lean manufacturing plants

Uses of Andon in Lean Manufacturing

Andon in lean manufacturing is a system that warns workers, operators, and managers about problems in real-time. With the help of alerts, immediate corrective action can be taken.

It helps in addressing process or quality control issues with immediate attention. That further observes the reduction of production bottlenecks.

It clears any glitches that might lead to slow production. It also avoids complete production halts soon.
More specifically,

  • Visibility, visibility, and the possibility of fixing problems of downtime, quality, and safety in real-time.
  • Productivity, attending to problems as they occur in the manufacturing process increases productivity.
  • Accountability, effective delegation of accountability, and responsibility to operators.
  • Up-time, since it helps in quicker identification and fixing manufacturing issues, downtime is reduced.
  • Efficiency provides an effective and consistent way of communication. That helps in saving money and time.

Let me explain it with scenarios.

Andon board

Scenario 1

In a car manufacturing industry, the production of cars takes place along with the indication light down the production line. Therefore, the lights will be red, green, and blue.

When an employee fixes a part of the car correctly, the indicator light goes from blue to green, and the car goes continuously down in the production line.

If the employee fixes the part incorrectly, the indicator goes red, and the andon board shows yellow light to show that the problem is detected in that production line.

If the employee cannot fix it properly and quickly, the production stops, and the team members gather and solve the problem in that production line.

Scenario 2

Andon is used in the web-based company also. Of course, you all know the very famous online shopping site Amazon.

It uses andon for its customer service because providing good services to customers is its top priority. Thus, Amazon calls it “customer service andon cord.”

Whenever a problem occurs in customer service, this cord alerts the manager to sort out the problem. Here andon is not a board, it is a digital system.

Advanced features of modern systems

  • Integrates with enterprise resource planning (ERP), computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), and manufacturing execution system (MES).
  • Making extensive use of the internet of things (IoT).
  • Issuing tickets with workflow.
  • Mobile client applications to get alert notifications.
  • Email, SMS, and mobile application push notifications.
  • Automatically track production counts and cycle time.
  • Big data analysis and reporting system about recorded events of andon inputs.

Advantages of Andon

Advantages of Andon
  • Saves time: Since it is a visual display, it allows you to understand the situation and problems in the production line. So that it helps to reduce the problem detecting time avoids stopping of the production line and saves time.
  • Saves money: You know that in business, time is money. So when process time reduces, it helps to reduce the production costs and leads to profit.
  • Increases communication: Andon helps to flow the information throughout the production line through visual or sound signals. Hence it increases the internal communication between workers, supervisors, and managers.
  • Controls process: Andon forecasts the problem and allows the maintenance team members and higher management to have a perfect hold on the production line.
  • Collects accurate information: To support an effective management system, information about the function of the production line should move from lower-level workers to a higher authority. Anodon helps to collect accurate information about the production line.
  • Decreases hesitation: During production, sometimes workers hide issues. But when you start using andon, workers will be encouraged to find and solve the problems immediately. It helps to enhance the downtime, quality of the product, and also safety.
  • Enhances productivity: It allows the workers or operators to take immediate action when they find the problem without waiting for the higher authority. This rapid determination of the problems and solutions helps to increase productivity.
  • Zero interruption: It helps to move the assembly line without any interruption.

What will be the future?

We can expect complete Automation of detecting the problems and notifying them in manufacturing plants.

Building machine learning models based on andon inputs for different industry verticals. With these models, input patterns could be analyzed in a better manner for future enhancements.

Replacement of cord, buttons, and screens legacy systems with modern systems will be inevitable.

Get more definitions about the andon board and other ERP-related terms here.


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