Andon refers to the visual tool that indicates the status of equipment or workstations in a production area, in order to immediately alert to issues that slow down output.
Andon is a principle element of the JIDOKA Lean Manufacturing approach. Operators have the responsibility to stop production immediately when a problem occurs and seek assistance to handle the problem at its root-cause.
Andon, as a Lean tool, has its origin in Japan in the 1970s in the Toyota production system. Through a set of lights: personnel was alerting to (evolving) production problems, whether Maintenance, Quality, Safety, Production, Logistics, etc.
Andon activation triggers a (visual) signal to communicate that support is needed. The signals are triggered by the operator or equipment (automatically at atypical running or production stop) and are supposed to facilitate quick decision-making and action by the staff.
Andon helps to highlight relevant information and to standardize communication. This benefits the feeling of empowerment and motivation of staff.
The systems’ main objectives are to generate a reaction to an atypical situation in all kinds of processes. Obviously we think about manufacturing processes (covering machinery and equipment, quality, production, maintenance, safety) but it can also be applied in logistics processes, office areas, etc.
When any machine has (or expects) a production interruption, the operator indicates this through preset buttons on the M-Box. The supervisor is alerted via a notification on his mobile device or portal and can take action to address the root cause.
M-Box also provides instant notifications related to waste of electricity, auxiliary equipment status, production levels, efficiency indicators, quality checks, etc. Additionally, these can also be sent to different factory managers, officers, supervisors as configured.