What is Andon Board? – Colors, Examples, Types

What is the Andon Board?

The andon board is an essential tool in any manufacturing or assembly environment. But what is it, and how is it useful?

This article will briefly overview the andon board and explain its key features.

Andon Board Definition

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.

 Production Andon Board

What does the word Andon mean?

The term “Andon” comes from the Japanese word for the paper lantern.
The Japanese call their form of quality control the “Andon” system. Andon means “guiding light,” which they use to acknowledge that jobs are done without interruption.
Toyota first discovered it, which utilized the Jidoka quality control method. It has now become an indispensable part of the Lean approach.
Andon meaning in manufacturing industries is “the status display.”
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.

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

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

Andon system examples

What is an example of Andon in everyday life?

Your car’s dashboard is the best example. It warns you about the existence of fuel, whether it is complete 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

Andon colors and meanings
  • Green, production is running correctly and will move to the next level
  • Yellow, problem detected, the operator needs 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. The next run could be scheduled if needed.
  • Blue, defective unit, this need not stop the process; even the number of faulty units could be displayed.

Uses of andon board in lean manufacturing plants

Uses of Andon in Lean Manufacturing

What is 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, 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 in manufacturing industry

Scenario 1

In a car manufacturing industry, the production of vehicles 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 vehicle goes continuously down in the production line.

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

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

Scenario 2

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

It uses andon for its customer service because providing good customer service 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 aboard. It is a digital system.

Advanced features of modern systems

Advantages of Andon board

Advantages of Andon
  • Saves time: Since andon board 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 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: It helps flow the information throughout the production line through visual or sound signals. Hence it improves the internal communication between workers, supervisors, and managers.
  • Controls process: The production andon board 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. Andon board 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 downtime, product quality, and safety.
  • Enhances productivity: It allows the workers or operators to take immediate action when they find the problem without waiting for a higher authority. This rapid determination of the issues and solutions helps to increase productivity.
  • Zero interruption: It helps to move the assembly line without any interruption.

What will be the future?

Andon board manufacturers are looking for ways to improve the traditional system while maintaining simplicity.

While many andons can be used in lean manufacturing plants, the most common type is a red light with an audible sound or buzzer.

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

They are building machine learning models based on andon inputs for different industry verticals. With these models, input patterns could be analyzed better for future enhancements.

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

Conclusion

The Andon Board is a critical element of lean manufacturing. It can serve as your early warning system for potential problems. It would help if you never forgot the importance of having an engaging, informative board that employees can easily read from anywhere in the plant.

This blog post has given you some background on what an Andon Board is and how it can increase efficiency and reduce waste by providing feedback and information about production levels during the day or night.