What are Andon Systems, and How Are They Helping Manufacturers Stay Ahead of Coronavirus?

Andon system smart manufacturing technology

If there is one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has accomplished, it is to bring everyone in the world, collectively, to a grinding halt in one way or another. 

With increased social distancing, millions of people either succumbing to or recovering from this unpredictable, serious illness and many forced changes to our everyday lives and routines, there’s hardly a single aspect of our “normal” lives that haven’t been affected. 

The same is true for the world of business. There isn’t a single industry that hasn’t been affected or impacted by coronavirus, and how these businesses have dealt with the sudden upheaval has been varied and interesting. The impacts have been especially significant on the manufacturing industry.

How Manufacturers Are Affected by Coronavirus

For some manufacturers, social distancing protocols have caused them to have to shut down, whether temporarily, or in some cases, permanently. 

For those production floors that aren’t able to open, or whose workers aren’t able to come in, profits are undoubtedly affected. As the supply chain has been severely disrupted, other manufacturers struggle to keep up with changing production needs. 

For manufacturers who provide much-needed resources and materials, such as PPE, medical equipment, certain medications, hand sanitizer, toilet paper and so on, work is busier than ever, with production ramping up to fill those consumer needs. 

Other production companies who normally manufacture other products have jumped in the fray and started temporarily manufacturing in-demand products to help supply their community and stay afloat during the crisis. 

While increased production/manufacturing is a good thing, for business owners and workers alike, when you see companies increase their manufacturing and production exponentially and quickly, the risk of mistakes, malfunctions and errors also increase. So how do companies that are working round to clock to meet demand manage to offset that risk? 

What Are Andon Systems?

One way to keep production and manufacturing running smoothly is to implement a system such as Andon Systems. Andon Systems can help your business increase productivity, maximize output and avoid errors and mistakes using smart manufacturing, a system of technology-and-internet driven approaches and protocols that automate operations and improve performance and productivity. 

Andon Systems are intuitive systems based on an old Japanese system of light signals to signify problems (green for “go” or normal operations, yellow for “caution” or possible changes needed, red for “stop” or problems to be solved). These processes lead to long-term savings, increased productivity, less errors and a smoother, more streamlined production experience. 

How Andon Systems Are Helping Manufacturers Stay Ahead

Andon Systems use a simple, intuitive process to alert manufacturers of problems before they cause a major issue that could shut down production. The light alerts have three main colors that indicate processes (normal, potential problems, major problems) so that corrective action can immediately be taken. 

The technology-driven, automated nature of the system ensures that no problem goes unnoticed or unchecked and that the entire system runs smoothly and in sync with each individual component. The system is designed to increase productivity, cut down on costs, anticipate major issues before they happen, and increase output. 

Because the system—composed of easy-to-read visual boards, graphics, and lights—is designed to feature a constant-and-increased flow of information, staff and management alike are always up-to-date on how systems are running and therefore are able to produce an increased workflow on the manufacturing floor. 

How Andons Function to Increase Efficiency

When a problem arises, workers are notified via the light system immediately so the problem can be addressed in real-time and production can continue undeterred. The process works like this:

  1. The unique lighting system makes a discovery and provides real-time data about the potential issue.
  2. Correct personnel are immediately notified of equipment and/or production issue.
  3. Departments communicate via streamlined, in sync automation systems.
  4. The problem is fixed and production continues.
  5. Productivity is increased, costs are reduced, demand is met, and continuous improvement goals can be refined.

If it sounds like a reasonably simple system, that’s because it is. This intuitive, automated system is designed to work simply, relying on visual cues and real-time updates to keep staff, production personnel and management always up-to-date on how manufacturing and production are going. Operations run smoother, demands are met, costs are kept down and staff is able to work productively without any major issues, all because of Andon Systems. 

It is clear that in unprecedented times, especially during something such as a global pandemic when production has in some ways increased threefold, a logical, trustworthy and efficient system is needed. Andon Systems has proven to be just the ticket for many manufacturing companies throughout the world.