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Andons – The bright lights of Lean

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 effected is stopped until a solution is found and the issue is recorded for further continuous-improvement via Non conformance form, concern strip of issue sheet.  With the development of 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 needs to be simple and easily understood by the production team so that it becomes part of the normal production system . More examples  can be found on System Engineering Integrator (SEI) website.  and there are even a couple mobile apps out there.