Exploring ANDON to Ensure More Smooth Production Processes

Exploring ANDON to Ensure More Smooth Production Processes

The term Andon (“Sign” or “Signal”) was originated from a Japanese word – “chouchin” or “Chochin” – that is used for traditional Paper Lantern. In the context of manufacturing, Andon refers to a status-display station and is one of the most common visual management tools used while implementing Lean. Andon is an effective solution that enables production workforce to smoothly running the operations and without any bottlenecks.

The System

Andon is the lighted indicator that works just like the traffic lights. The system has three colors on each level of a production assembly line. Whenever an operator detects any issue in the production line or unable to keep pace with the process, the worker shall stop the operation by pulling a cord named ‘Andon’ cord. The cord will switch on an alarm and light up the Yellow color light on the Andon system board.

If the operator somehow could not resolve the detected concern, within a specified time limit, then the Andon will show a Red Light and entire production line would stop, either manually or automatically. If there are no issues, the Andon will illuminate a Green signal signifying that the production process can continue with the operations.

Understanding Andon Cords and their Significance

Color Cord




The production process is smooth

Proceed to the next level


Problem occurred

The operator tries to fix the problem


Production halted

The issue needs to be further investigated

These Color Signals are broadly used across various manufacturing industries. Some production plants have, however, devised personalized color signals with a specific meaning, like White for End of Production Run, Blue for Defective Unit, and others. A simple example of Andon is the warning indicator on the car’s dashboard that lit-up when the petrol tank is about to empty.

The Technique

Andon technique is one of the primary elements of the Jidoka, a quality management tool, initiated by Toyota as part of the Toyota Production system and now a critical component of Lean strategy. Jidoka means ‘empowering the employees’, while Andon directs operators’ attention throughout the assembly line, thus helping them to identify the process status and take appropriate actions. During the process, operators are empowered and informed to pull the Andon cord in the assembly line in case they notice any operational abnormality.

The Types

  • Manual: Operator shall manually activate the Andons installed in the assembly line by either by pressing a static button, pulling a cord, or even flipping a flag
  • Automatic: Andons get activated automatically in the assembly line when a specified parameter is missed.

The Benefits

  • Improve Transparency: Ensure immediate and appropriate action to quality, down-time, and safety concerns.
  • Increase Productivity: Encourage prompt attention to issues as they occur in the manufacturing process.
  • Strengthen Flexibility: Improve operators’ performance by making them accountable for the desired output and enabling them to take corrective actions when problems occur.
  • Reduce Downtime: Enhance the ability of supervisors and operators to quickly identify and promptly resolve any assembly line issues.
  • Save Costs and Time: Ensure a simple and consistent mechanism for communicating process relevant information on the production floor.

Future Advancements

Initially, Andons were light signals installed in the assembly line of a manufacturing unit that enables operators to specified color-coded signals based on the production status. Modern-day production processes have smart and sophisticated visual displays for communicating efficiency and real-time production status of the assembly floor.

To Sum Up

Andon is a visual or audible communication system that notifies production abnormalities to operators and supervisors, thus alerting them to ensure timely support and right action. Andon can be triggered automatically or manually by a machine or a person. Experts like, Janam Sandhu – the globally renowned Lean Six Sigma expert, recommends factory owners to educate their workforce about the advantages of the Andon system for their assembly lines. Not just manufacturing Andon is widely used in customer service domains as well, for instance, Amazon implemented Andon in its Customer Support division, and that makes sense, as it helps floor supervisors in efficiently managing the call volumes.

Posted on 03 August, 2019

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Categories : Lean Six Sigma White Belt Course

Comments so far.. Add new comment

Kumar 30/10/2019

Nice video mam Plz make video on other tools also

joseph 13/09/2019

Your lectures are Gold, the way you explain makes everything crystal clear.

christoper 03/08/2019

you make lean six sigma so easy, I am totally confident I can implement it.

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