While we have touched on the benefits of an Andon system, it’s also important to discuss the key features and functionality that will offer the biggest boosts in efficiency and reliability in any Andon system. Here are some of InduSoft’s tips for building a better Andon:
Make sure ‘Abnormal Conditions’ are well-defined
The purpose of an Andon system is allowing operators and managers to know at a glance when there is a problem. The most important key in developing an Andon system is the definition of a problem. This requires clear definitions of metrics and values that are ‘normal’ and values that are ‘abnormal’. These should be well documented and agreed-upon. There is a risk of Andon warnings being ignored if agreement on abnormal conditions is low. So, for example, if documentation states that rejected units should not surpass 3%, but everyone on the line thinks that is an impossible standard, they may fail to react to Andon warnings regarding rejected units.
There should be objective measurements of detecting abnormal conditions
In the prototypical Andon design, employees could pull the Andon cord if they were ‘stuck’ somewhere in the process. Unfortunately, this is not an objective measurement of a problem and the result is that operators may be unsure of appropriate reasons for activating Andon warnings. Objective reasons for activating Andon warnings should include limitations that prevent further work, time-based delays, and other measurable and confirmable reasons.
There should be a centralized and readily visible way to understand the warnings
Andon warnings do little good if they cannot be seen and responded to quickly. In many Andon applications operators can pull an Andon cord. But there are other methods of warning, such as a button-press that activates an alarm on an Andon board and an audible warning. The best Andon systems include accountability for response and acknowledgement to Andon warnings.
Response roles should be assigned
It is important to know who will respond to an Andon alarm. Is it a plant manager? Maintenance staff? A sophisticated Andon system will allow operators to indicate which response team they need, and allow the correct people to respond directly, rather than funneling the response through managerial staff first. Whoever responds, it’s imperative that operators and managers know who is expected to acknowledge and resolve Andon warnings.
Successful response should be defined
Acceptable responses should be clearly defined. Is an acknowledgement all that is necessary? Is maintenance required? Do alarms vanish once they have been acknowledged, or once the issue that caused them has been resolved? For each abnormal situation, an acceptable and consistent response should be defined.
SCADA software like InduSoft Web Studio can create superior Andon systems with the necessary tools to create alarms, acknowledge them, and verify responses and response times. You can read more about one Andon system using InduSoft Web Studio here: