The Japanese term Andon means signal light or paper lantern. In Lean management, Andon is used as a visual management method to quickly alert anyone to the status of an operation. Andon is a important lean tool as it is useful in the smooth running of operations. Andon can also be referred to a signalling system that is used to call for assistance whenever an irregular situation is identified or when an action is required. Andon lights are mostly used on assembly lines as the expense of an issue if there is a stop in line is multiplied by the amount of idle sitting stations. Each Andon light colour meaning is different and thus, requires a different response.

If used properly, Andon lights are powerful tools. They should be very visual and should be sighted from at least 10ft away. Every Andon light colour meaning must have a clear reaction plan, this way, Andon lights can do more than merely pointing out a problem. For instance, in a car, the blinking by the fuel gauge of a red Andon light colour meaning that you have to fill up your car at a fuel station sooner rather than later.

Andon Light Colour Meanings

The most common Andon light colour meanings or configurations include:

GREEN:  This colour simply means that the process or operation is regular and in good working condition.

YELLOW: This means that help or attention is needed.

RED: This Andon light colour meaning is the same as when used in traffic lights. It simply means STOP! This Andon light is usually followed by a loud alarm.

Some Andon lights are connected to computer systems in order to track problems. Also, others can be programmed to stop an assembly in motion when turned on.

Setting up the Andon Light

A lot of Andon light masts are easy to setup and they can be fixed in just about everywhere with the proper quantity of mounting brackets which are normally added to the purchase of the Andon light. They can be set-up in two different manners; the automatic and the manual methods.

The automatic is the most common method. In this case, the Andon light is set up to respond automatically when it is triggered by a machine most especially when the machine is working without the presence of an operator. For the manual way, the operator would have to change the Andon light himself when required. This would probably be done with a switch, trigger, button or a pull cord which would be set up by the workstation of the operator.

The Andon Board

The Andon board is a bit more detailed and elaborate than the typical Andon light setup; however, it basically gives the same benefits as the light. The Andon boards usually have various indicators on them which are normally located at the centre so as to be visually efficient as much as possible. Andon boards are usually found in large plants with numerous lines of production enabling anyone to simply look up and view the present status of every operation and how they are running.

Keys to Having a Great Andon Board

  • Try as much as possible to keep the design modest and easy to understand.
  • The lights have to be vivid and easy to comprehend.
  • The board has to be placed in a location that could be seen from every part of the production floor.
  • It must give details of where the issue happened.
  • It must show if a problem has been fixed or not.
  • It must be kept in good working condition and maintenance should be performed as required.

What are the Advantages of Making use of Andon Systems in a Facility

  • The Andon system enables communication in real time very effectively in order to provide immediate awareness to issues as they happen.
  • The Andon light colour meanings are known by everyone as a result of their use in traffic lights thus, making the Andon system easy to utilize effectively with little or no training.
  • This system encourages a culture that upholds safety and quality.
  • It increases culpability of the operators and people in charge of the production floor to always make sure that production quality is high.
  • It reduces downtime as supervisors and the mechanics are able to swiftly find out the cause of malfunctions and then fix the problem of the machine.