In the manufacturing world, an Andon is a signal device that alerts operators or management to a problem. There are many different types of Andons, but all share the same purpose: to notify operators and first responders of a problem so they can take corrective action.
Here is an explanation of Andons, as well as six real-world examples of Andons and their uses.
What Is an Andon?
Andon systems are a type of visual management system. They consist of a series of lights or signals that allow operators to communicate problems to management. The name Andon is derived from the Japanese term “andon,” which means “lamp” or “light.”
The name “Andon” comes from the original Andon systems, which were llight-up boards that glowed when an andon cord was activated. Modern Andon systems employ the use of tower lights, screens, and additional methods of communications, to notify management and personnel of issues.
Examples of Andons
Here are six real-world examples of andons being used in different industries:
Toyota is known for its well-run manufacturing plants. The Toyota Production System (TPS) uses a number of visual management tools, including andons.
The Andon system consists of every Toyota automobile having a portable indicator light on the production line, following it down the line. That indicator light has blue, green, and red lights. The light turns from blue to green when a mechanic tightens a bolt on a vehicle, and the automobile continues down the line.
However, if one of the bolts on a production line is excessively tightened or left untightened, the indicator light flashes red and the Andon board turns orange on that area of the manufacturing line. If the bolt is not addressed promptly, production will be halted and the team must congregate to quickly address the problem at that part of the manufacturing line.
Andon systems help Amazon maintain their high standards of good packaging, quality service, and speedy deliveries. The Andon alerts at Amazon indicate a variety of issues on the production floor in real-time, meaning time isn’t wasted on fixing issues such as defects in inventory, reported product updates, etc.
Andon systems give workers and supervisors a chance to reduce wasted time and monitor each other’s progress and performance. Amazon’s massive workloads of packing and shipping products requires as little waste as possible, and Andons help accomplish this.
3. Honeywell Andons
One of Honeywell‘s locations consisted of 4 separate factory operations with one common support group. VersaCall helped Honeywell to implement an Andon system which reduced line downtime for the 4 separate factory operations.
The one support group had previous difficulty in identifying and fixing problems quickly. The Andon system helped the support group by providing them with immediate communication of where line stoppage issues were across the 4 separate factory operations.
At the 3M Tape Manufacturing Plant located in Minnesota, the facility was experiencing a significant loss of production time due to the response time of support personnel to unanticipated production disruptions. This plant implemented VersaCall’s VT3000, an Andon system which included 4 button calls that were within reach of every operator.
The press of a button sends communication immediately to a specific person or group who will need to address problems in that specific area. The Andon system helped provide an immediate response to issues.
5. Caterpillar Inc. Andons
Caterpillar Inc. has implemented the Caterpillar Production System to continue to improve their production processes by determining an effective way to communicate problems and issues from the assembly line on the production floor.
The Andon solution used was VersaCall’s 4 Button Wireless Call Station with stack lights at each work station on the production line with the ability to send communications to any location on the entire site. There is also display software for displaying the status of the entire production line as well as the status of each of individual work zones.
Helping employees and management see the production status by individual production line and work zones was key in reducing downtime and response time.
6. Hamilton Sundstrand Andons
One operation of Hamilton Sundstrand consists of many assembly lines and groups, yet only one support group. Hamilton Sundstrand opted for an andon system that would help them identify the root cause of problems when they arise.
VersaCall’s BSC Modules at each of the assembly stations provided for the immediate communication of multiple support requests. The modules captured the time and reason associated with each support request to provide the root cause of time loss on the floor.
Looking To Implement Andon Systems?
Each of these types of Andons can help manufacturers ensure that their operators and management are alerted to any potential problems so they can take corrective action.
If you’re looking for a way to improve your manufacturing process, consider using an Andon system. Contact VersaCall today to learn more about our Andon systems and how they can benefit your business.