How the Andon system can help production flow

If you’re like most manufacturers, you probably still rely primarily on manual operations, which are prone to problems that can affect the entire assembly line. A great way to quickly pinpoint issues at manually operated workstations, improve response time, and reduce downtime is through an Andon system.


What exactly is an Andon? The term Andon is the Japanese word for paper lanterns. The Andon system, a lean manufacturing process, was originally pioneered by Toyota as a signal system using lights to alert a manager to the occurrence and location of a problem on the assembly line.

In this informative video, Bob Wilson, an Andon and lean manufacturing consultant, explains the main features of the wireless Andon system and how it can maximize productivity and promote continuous improvement at your plant.

The wireless Andon system

While traditional Andon systems tend to be expensive, time-consuming to install, and not very flexible, Wilson’s wireless invention is easy to deploy and add to over time. The web-based system gives you a visual representation of the status of your line that you can check anytime, anywhere, on any device.


Simple and customizable

The Andon system is user-friendly and easy to customize. You can set it up to suit your exact needs today—and tomorrow, as your plant evolves.


Multiple usage levels

You can use the wireless Andon system at different levels, from entry to advanced. At the entry level, the system lets you spot problems and shorten response times through an online display board and email/text notifications. As you become more familiar with the system, you can use it to analyze downtimes, create incident reports, monitor problem areas, prioritize key tasks, and schedule maintenance.


The escalation process

The wireless Andon system can be programmed to include different levels of escalation based on your priorities and urgency levels. For instance, if the line is down for 10 minutes, a notification is sent to the team leader. But if the issue isn’t addressed within, say, 30 minutes, the issue is escalated to the next level and a manager is notified.

Reporting events

Every time a notification is sent, the system records all the related data. You can also add more details to it. You can then go back, filter the information, and use it to monitor workstations, fix recurring issues, or make improvements.

Why not just jot everything down manually, like Toyota?

At Toyota, when an employee pulls the cord to alert a supervisor, they record the event manually, based on their interpretation. The reports are then placed in a stack that is eventually sorted by hand to see what needs attention. Not exactly streamlined!

What’s OEEE?

You’re likely familiar with OEE: overall equipment effectiveness. But you probably don’t have detailed data about your employees and workstations. With the wireless Andon system, however, you get OEEE data: overall equipment and employee effectiveness.

Want to make your manual operations more efficient? Contact Industrial Andons for more information.


About our guest speaker Bob Wilson

Bob Wilson is the owner of Industrial Andons and Jidoka Consulting. Bob invented, patented and developed a wireless Andon system used by companies across a broad range of industries to greatly improve their quality and productivity. He started his lean learning while working for Toyota and Ford, experiences that led him to become a Kaizen Circle Leader and to earn a Six Sigma Black Belt Certification.

Bob has worked on lean implementation projects ranging from the shop floor to engineering and business processes. At AMD, he led the Lean Engineering Team, launched and led the Lean Academy and the Lean Global Ops team, and currently works on Strategy and Innovation.

Bob co-authored the book First, Fire the Consultants! published in 2020.

Phone: 1-866-290-7551


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