What is an Andon System?
Andon is a signaling tool used to identify problems and notify people when those problems exist. Problems that Andon systems focus on are related to quality or processes and notifications take place using lights or signboards to signal when production lines go down or when quality problems interrupt standard work flow. The alert that from an Andon system can be either manually activated with a cord, button, or switch, or it can be an automatic system where notifications are sent via a computer or PLC. Some Andon systems are automated to a point where the notification itself can stop production.
The Andon system is a key element of Jidoka, and was pioneered by Toyota as a way for workers to call for immediate help during production line stoppage. Some of the problems identified and associated for use with Andon systems are part shortages, quality defects, potential safety issues, scheduling problems, supplier problems, or manning issues.
Some Andon systems are tied directly to databases where information is captured and stored for later review and analysis by continuous improvement teams like Six Sigma, or Kaizen.