Andon, What is It?
Chances are you have seen the andon system before. Chances are you may have engaged with the andon system before. The term andon is a Japanese term that refers to a system of notification which is widely used in many industries today. The word andon can be translated as "signal" or "sign." Simply put andon is a visual alert which highlights an area that needs support.
Just think if you were walking through a machine shop and every one out of ten machines was down. That would-be ten percent of your production for every ten machines. The andon system helps notify others of a need for support. If the proper personnel can be notified quickly of a line stop, the proper support can help contain the problem and eventually get the line moving again. Likewise, the system works in offices, healthcare and food industries.
How does the Andon System work?
The Andon system is a fairly simple, yet a very valuable system. A worker notices a problem or an abnormality, the worker then pulls a line, presses a button or activates a "trigger" by some other means. The photo above was taken in a lobby at Toyota, where lines were used to begin the trigger. The trigger then highlights the area where the problem is by visual and sometimes other sensory means. Once the area is highlighted a support team can then identify where the problem is and come to help resolve the issue through the application of countermeasures. Some of the common situations the andon system might be used in are: shortage of parts, defects found, a tool not working properly and most importantly if a safety issue is found. You may have seen the andon system in a grocery store or other retail outlets. When a checker needs support, they will normally flip a switch which notifies a team leader, manager or other employee that they need support. Whatever the abnormality the magic of the andon system is in the response. As soon as a trigger is engaged a team leader responds within seconds ultimately containing the issue and facilitating a root cause analysis of the issue. If the problem cannot be resolved the line will stop and further analysis will be performed. The idea is to contain a problem and resolve it as quick as possible however when this does not occur the andon system normally incorporates other means of capturing the issue and facilitating a much deeper investigation.
Using a system like the andon system ultimately prevents defects. Whether those defects are data related, health related, part related or transactional the andon system is one of the most effective ways to expose the hidden factory and prevent issues in the future which ultimately leads to a smoother flow.
As the new year comes to an end, new strategies, resolutions and goals kick into gear. We share with friends how much weight we want to lose. We talk with superiors about how we are going to improve and we set goals we've set before with the hopes of reaching them this year. Day one begins with the new goals. Day two, we are executing and day three one of them falls to the wayside. Why is this?
While there are many different reasons resolutions, goals and objectives might get misplaced one common way to avoid this is through the use of visual controls.
What is a visual Control?
A visual control refers to methods, devices, activities and or systems which are designed to assist in the management or control of activities. These means of control often employ other sensory characteristics along with a visual to better manage. A visual control is one method of communication that we can use to show at a glance:
1. How we are performing or progressing with our activity or work effort.
2. If anything is deviating from a standard.
3. What we need to do.
1. Progress/Performance - The visual control should show anyone who looks at it how the work effort or activity is performing in comparison to the standard or objective. One example of visual management that could be used for a new year’s weight loss goal might be a weight loss chart like the one shown below.
2. Deviations from a Standard - Visual management also seeks to identify abnormal conditions. While it is important that we see, and know when conditions are not meeting the expected level of performance, it is probably even more important that visual controls share knowledge throughout an organization allowing individuals to look, understand and act accordingly. If you had as part of your new year’s weight loss goal a diet, the plate shown below may be helpful to use at each meal. You can see what the standard is and you can see if the standard is being met or not and correct it accordingly. Now that's Lean.
3. What you need to do - Exception messages in ERP/MRP give us information and prompt us to act or receive information. A gas light on our car tells us we need gas and both our weight loss tracker and portioned plate show us what we are doing in relation to the standard. If we are not meeting a standard we need to understand the abnormality and act accordingly. If we are meeting the standard, we keep doing what we are doing or do a little better. The point is the means of communication being used for visual management should help us to make decisions of what needs to be done.
There you have it one easy tool you can use in 2017 to become much leaner. Just remember:
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