Andon Board is a display board used in the manufacturing industry. It indicates the existence of a problem at a specific workstation. The problem 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. 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.

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.

Andon types

Operator controlled andons

Manual operators in the assembly line trigger the andons. They may do it by using static buttons, pulling cord or using 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 meaning

  • 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

Andon boards help in addressing process or quality control issues with immediate attention. This further observes in 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 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, this provides an effective and consistent way of communication. That helps in saving money and time.

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.

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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