Andon System in Lean Manufacturing: 5 Practical Usages

What is an Andon system?

Andon system is common in the manufacturing industry. It is also a continuous process which is vital to optimizing people’s efforts and machine capacities. Due to this reason, a lean system Andon is used mainly to notify and sort out issues in a hierarchical manner. What is actually this, Andon? Let’s looking at it.

Andon is actually a system that gives signals or messages to the management or maintenance or workers where an issue has been occurred or occurring. These systems mainly use in lean manufacturing based environments. In the Automobile industry, the Garmnment industry Andon systems uses intensively cause a single broken process could lead to stopping the entire production line.

Mainly in an Andon system, color lifts, sirens are used to notify the relevant party. This one does have a sequence to follow. Cause at the start of any process, the Andon not activate and go the highest priority person. It works in a very sequential and methodical manner to optimize the entire production workforce and the management.

Normally the flow follow like below;

Worker – Senior Worker – Production Lead- Tehcicnican- Lead Techisican- Assitant engineer- factory engineer- Plant manager- Factory manager- General manager(Operations)- Director- Board of Directors

Andon system issue types

Even if this small jam is a bit hard to do, then It would be the best idea to use the Andon system. The system must be a visual light where it must see by everyone in the workflow. The system lights can define accordingly. I will give you an example for that as follows;

 1. Minor issue (green color) Andon

This is to inform the mechanics and the supervisors that the production stops due to an issue and needs attention. For example, this is probably a changeover, material jam that can correct without major support, and the production can start again after 10-30 minutes in most cases.  If the mechanics or workers could not find a solution within 30 minutes, go for the next light. The occurrence of this type of issues is standard in every day

2. Mild issue (green color) Andon

For this scenario, the error must be informed to the Mechanic in charge of the engineer who is responsible for the plant. The issue might be an electrical failure, mechanical failure, and it will require some time to correct it. Probably 30 minutes -3 hours. If the problem cannot correct even after 3 hours, we need to go for the next light. The occurrence of this type is not common but can happen every week.

3. Sever issue (Red color) Andon

The problem is a severe one and needs to inform the factory manager or chief engineer and look forward to messaging the information to management. Usually, these issues are permanent equipment broken issues and significant raw material delays that totally stop the production for more than 3 hours or the entire day. Some equipment requires quotations and needs weeks to deliver. Because of these reasons, it can have a more significant impact on the whole production line. The occurrence of this type of issue is not common like the above once, but still, it can happen.

Apart from the above-mentioned system, Some companies have more than five lights due to the working environment type.

Apart from the above-mentioned system, Some companies have more than five lights due to the working environment type.

Let me give some of these scenarios where you will be able to get a clear Idea on the Andon System in the general production facility.

Practical Industrial usages of an Andon System

1. A Jam or unavailability of Raw material

in production lines On a production floor, always, the material can stick in one place due to a defect issue or raw material jamming issue is very typical. Sometimes even the worker who is on duty can remove it by using the correct safety precautions.

By using the Andon system, the workers can notify the material jam issue, and then after the correction, the production can start over.

 The issue is typically not a severe issue and can correct within a day.

2. One machine needs a change over or small replacement.

In modern manufacturing systems, all connected in a sophisticated way. If one of the processes fails, it will affect the rest of the lines as well. Therefore, it is compulsory to have a notification system that can alert the relevant parties.

Andon system in Industry
Change over time reduction can have a big impact via an Andon system

Changeovers are very common, and it takes time to do it. But the company’s cannot delay their production and wait until all things fix accordingly. Due to this reason, I have seen for the process that uses an alternative machine in the stand by mood to facilitate significant change over happening machines.

In this scenario, the system does not need to use the severe issue red light, and inside the production plant, the things can manage without an issue.

In this scenario, the system does not need to use the severe issue red light, and inside the production plant, the things can manage without an issue.

3. The entire line does lose the supply of raw materials.

Generally, in a factory environment, the raw materials are planned ahead of months, but in some instances, if the products fail during the quality inspection and the some of the raw material gets are not there to do the production again. It will be a major loss of time and money. Usually, safety stock is maintained in every factory, but this thing can happen if the raw materials do not come to the inventory as planned.

4. Loss of supply of electricity for a production facility

In every factory environment, the electricity supply must be constant and steady without any droppings. Every company that uses electricity consumes a hundred times more than a typical household. They also have different packages for them as well, and for any electricity cut, the authorities must oblige to provide the information to the companies before it is done. If a failure occurs without prior notification, then an industrial generator uses it. But for a more extended period, it will not be.

Two scenarios we can take here for the usage of Andon;

1. For minor electricity cut without a prior notification that can run with the capacity of the generators can be notified via the mild issue(orange light), and it will not take a very long time, and the things will be okay.

2. If a prolonged electricity cut happens without a notification affects the entire production. It is a sever issue that needs to give the information to the factory manager and so on to get the necessary actions and makes the things possible again

5. A machine entirely broken and cannot continue the workflow

Machine breakdowns happen very often in production, and some of the breakdowns do affect the production very much. Most of the companies do have Total Productive Maintenance plan (TPM) and continuous improvement processes to avoid it. But a repair that cannot be done within the factory level will take more time. A complete machine breakdown can happen within a second. Moreover, it will require to get the production back to live after fixing it.

There are two scenarios here where an Andon system can use

1. If the wholly failed machine can replace quickly and get the production back to live the Andon light Orange can use

2. The broken machine is a colossal one; it will require a significant investment, hence not only that the time factor is also there in this regard.. The Andon system must use to notify it as a severe issue to the factory manager or the factory engineer to get things sorted out.

Apart from the above-discussed scenarios, there will be different types of usage of Andon systems as well. According to my experience, this is among the prominent issues.

Andon systems must be in place in every factory.

In conclusion, Yes, an Andon system is good to have in a factory. But there will be practical difficulties in using it. A production plant that produces food-grade quality outputs may have different systems to what we discussed here may be more elements to the three issues I explained here.

In practically, the Andon system info does not go to the director’s board; maybe for the operational director, the information may pass. The system’s main intention is to notify an issue and fixed it efficiently. Therefore, basic methods should practice by industries to get better efficient results.

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