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Andons – The Bright Lights of Lean

What is Andon?

andon lights

Andon refers to a system that provides notification to management, maintenance, and operators of a quality or process problems. It works when an issue is found at a process, the team members has the ability to immediately notify support staff so that the problem can be taken care of.

In manufacturing, it allows a worker to stop production when a problem is found and immediately calls for assistance. The Andon can be triggered manually by using push button or built into the software of production equipment to automatic feed data into the factory monitoring software such as a SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system. The common reasons for activating the Andon can be part shortage, defect created or found, tool/machine malfunction, or the existence of a safety problem.

One rule that supports the Andon system is that the operation affected is stopped until a solution is found and the issue is recorded for further continuous-improvement via non-conformance form and concern strips. With the development of a software system the Andon systems can now include SMS text messaging, escalation procedure, live feed graphic screens, and audio elements such as music with different tunes corresponding to the various alert.

Commonly used color-coded system is:

  • Red for abnormal, machine down
  • Yellow for changeover or planned maintenance
  • Green for normal operations

Andon systems need to be simple and easily understood by the production team so that it becomes part of the normal production system. There are a number of Andon Systems that can be implemented from low tech to high tech.