What is Andon Cord? (Types, Approach, and other details)

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Andon Cord

You may have heard of Andon cords, but what are they? What do they do? 

They are an essential part of the “Toyota Production System” (TPS) and can be found in factories worldwide. 

This blog post will explore everything you need to know about Andon cords, including their history, different types, industry use, and role in the “Toyota Production System.”

Definition

Toyota invented the Andon Cord as part of their “Toyota Production System.”

It is a physical or digital cord that, when pulled, triggers an immediate stop of work at a station. In addition, it signals quality or safety issues so that a supervisor can address them.

The worker can pull the cord and notify the supervisor or other workers when he finds an issue and then restarts work once the issue has been resolved.

History

The history of the Andon cord dates back to the early 1900s, when ‘Sakichi Toyoda’ invented the first version of the device. His invention was designed to improve communication and safety in factories’ production lines. The original cord consisted of a string or wire that ran throughout the factory. Employees could pull on the string or wire to signal for help.

The modern version is typically a button or switch that can be activated by anyone who needs help. When pressed, the cord sends a signal to a central location, typically a control room or office. It can signal via an alarm, light, or visual cue.

Types of Andon Cords

There are three types stop, caution, and emergency.

Types  of Andon Cords
  1. Stop cords are used to stop the assembly line immediately.
  2. Caution cords warn that something is wrong or about to happen.
  3. Emergency cords are used to stop the machine or process it immediately.

Andon Cord Approach Examples

Over time these cords have evolved with far more superior technology. For example, Toyota started replacing analog cords with modern Toyota Andon cord systems such as an electronic signaling device and push-buttons.

However, the concept of it has become famous in many management systems throughout the world.

The Andon cord approach used in,

  • Amazon shipment
  • Software development
  • Healthcare, etc
Andon Cord Approach

How does the Andon Cord Approach Work?

1. Amazon Shipment

Amazon finds the Andon cord concept as a practical approach to minimizing the faults in its customer service and improving the quality.

  • In the Amazon Andon cord process, the amazon service representative gets notified by the customer that some issue is present in the received product from Amazon.
  • If the representative finds this issue is repeating, he can pull the cord. Pulling the cord means he notifies the issue to the supervisor. After getting an alert from the representative, website will immediately stop distributing that product until the problem is resolved.
  • Then, the supervisor creates the Andon cord ticket and informs the issue of the product distributor by sending an email that includes the product ASIN and details about the product defect.
  • If the distributor fails to solve the problem, the website will remove that product from its product list.
  • Implementing this process helps pause the sales and deliveries before the defect reaches more consumers.

2. Software development

Pull the Andon cord analogy is also used in software development

The virtual Andon cord kanban tool allows team members to signal when they need help in software development.

Team members place cards on a board to indicate their work. When they need help, they move the card to the “help” column, and the team leader or someone from the team who is available picks up the card and helps with the work.

The virtual andon cord allows team members to signal for help without leaving their desks or stopping what they are doing. That helps ensure that everyone can get the help they need without interrupting their work.

3. Healthcare

The Andon cord concept has also been adapted for use in healthcare. In healthcare, This is a tool that can be used signal for help in various situations.

For example, it can signal for help when a patient needs a nurse, doctor, or medical assistance. The cord can also signal for use when a staff member needs assistance.

The cord can also signal help when a staff member needs a break.

Why is Andon Cords Essential?

  • Give employees a voice to raise concerns about quality or safety issues.
  • Encourage employees to take ownership of the quality of the products they produce.
  • Help supervisors quickly identify and address quality or safety issues.
  • Stopping work immediately allows the issue to be addressed quickly and prevents further problems.
  • It can be used as a tool to prevent errors and helps in the continuous improvement of any process.

FAQs

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.

What is Andon Cord ticket?

An andon cord ticket is a document that is used to track and communicate issues with a product. The ticket includes information about the product defect, such as the product ASIN and details about the problem. The ticket also provides information about the distributor responsible for fixing the problem.

Conclusion

Andon cords are essential in any manufacturing or production line. They allow employees to raise concerns about quality or safety issues and help supervisors quickly identify and address problems.

Many organizations implemented its concept to prevent errors and help continuously improve any process. For example, Amazon has implemented its idea in its customer service to minimize faults and improve quality.

In addition, the virtual Andon cord kanban tool allows team members in software development to signal for help without interrupting their work. Andon cords are a vital part of any quality management system.