Next Generation Andon

“Andon” – The definition

Andon (アンドン, あんどん, 行灯) is a manufacturing term referring to a system to notify management, maintenance, and other workers of a quality or process problem. The centrepiece is a signboard incorporating signal lights to indicate which workstation has the problem. The alert can be activated manually by a worker using a pullcord or button, or may be activated automatically by the production equipment itself. The system may include a means to stop production so the issue can be corrected. Some modern alert systems incorporate audio alarms, text, or other displays.

An Andon system is one of the principal elements of the Jidoka quality-control method pioneered by Toyota as part of the Toyota Production System and therefore now part of the Lean approach. It gives the worker the ability to stop production when a defect is found, and immediately call for assistance. Common reasons for manual activation of the Andon are part shortage, defect created or found, tool malfunction, or the existence of a safety problem. Work is stopped until a solution has been found. The alerts may be logged to a database so that they can be studied as part of a continuous-improvement program.

The system typically indicates where the alert was generated, and may also provide a description of the trouble. Modern Andon systems can include text, graphics, or audio elements. Audio alerts may be done with coded tones, music with different tunes corresponding to the various alerts, or pre-recorded verbal messages. Usage of the word originated within Japanese manufacturing companies, and in English is a loanword from a Japanese word for a paper lantern.

Andon History 1

Andon Evolution…

Toyota created the Andon concept as a tool for assembly line operators to notify other workers and supervisors of an immediate production issue. When a defect was spotted or created, an operator would pull an overhead cord to stop the assembly line and trigger a light or sound. This would signal over someone to help resolve the problem. The term Jidoka “building quality in” motivated Toyota to go through such lengths for quality assurance.

Other companies have modified and added to the Andon concept to expand its relevance beyond the automotive sector. Companies have developed systems that allow operators to send signals specific to certain malfunctions. They have also enhanced visual displays to communicate to other operators and supervisors what and where the problem is. Sage Clarity builds on these innovations to bring customers a superior Andon notification system and help them incorporate “Jidoka” into their plants.


The Next Generation Andon System…

A combination of:

  • large overhead plant floor displays
  • Utilization of existing Operator HMIs and plant floor terminals
  • Alerting technology using emails and SMS type messaging

Interrupt driven digital signage technology for rapid issue response

Idea Lab - Andon System

A web based system with virtual buttons placed on strategically placed operator terminals

Establishing escalation policies and distribution lists for alerts

Smart alertsTm will notify identified key people based on system parameters


  • Improved communication between operators and engineers
  • Multi-media response format for maximum exposure to the alerts

Learn how next generation Andon will improve production floor communications and quality management.

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