Andon, a term once used to describe Japanese paper lanterns, is now part of common parlance in manufacturing, where it is used to describe a visual system of communication often relayed with stacked lights or a lit signboard.
The Andon system was pioneered by Toyota as a part of Jidoka (automation) quality control, and remains an important aspect of the Lean approach to manufacturing. Andon lights can be useful for consumers too, as in the example of colored lights that indicate a problem on a car’s dash such as low oil or fuel.
Andon systems can be incredibly valuable in manufacturing, particularly when combined with plantwide SCADA systems capable of sending Andon data where it is most needed, such as maintenance departments or control rooms. A functioning Andon system removes a reliance on whiteboards, clipboards, and word of mouth for up to date status information on plant cycles.
The key benefit of the Andon system is that it makes the condition of manufacturing processes readily and easily visible to plant managers, operators, and maintenance personnel.
In addition, it makes it far easier to ensure that processes are being carried out efficiently and productively. When combined with OEE dashboards, it’s easy to gauge the efficiency of individual lines or machines.
Andon boards can also act as an early warning device. When abnormal conditions are noted, they’ll appear on the Andon board often before an alarm sounds, giving operators and managers time to correct problems before they begin in some cases.
Andon boards have uses in a variety of industries and applications, from automotive manufacturing, to packaging and shipping, inventory management and more.
Here’s a quick video showing how to build a 15 minute Andon application in InduSoft Web Studio: