What is an Andon?

Visual management tool that reveals the status of operations in an area and allows detecting if there is any abnormality.

This word is a Japanese term that means "signal" or "flashlight", and is an alarm that indicates, by means of an illuminated signal, a problem within the quality and control flows and the place of production and process where the action.

This term is used to apply, in turn, the Jidoka principle in the Lean Manufacturing method

The Andon is activated through a button, which automatically stops production so that the team has time to gather information, apply PDCA and analyze the causes and origin that caused the problem to later apply a quick solution .

The light signals are easily visible by means of a sign, which also shows the specific work area where the problem has arisen.

Analysis of the origin and frequency of problems is part of Toyota's system of continuous improvement.


This system can be implemented in a simple or more complex way, and there may be a large number of variants.

You can apply a series of lights of different colors, that is, a colored turret. The most common way to organize the Andon is that if the production is in a normal situation (without quality or production incidents) it is usually given a color (white). In the case of incidents of various types, a color is assigned to the problem.

An example of typical colors can be:

White: Production in normal condition.

Red: Quality Incidence

Amber: Stock break in some component

Blue: Maintenance problem

Another of the simplest ways is to give the warning through a single alarm, either light, sound or both.

There are other more complex Andon application systems, and even others that communicate with computer systems and alert at different levels of the company and organization where different colors and values are displayed that indicate, through an information board, the status of the production plant or other information about the process or organization.

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