How To Use Andon




Provide a system to alert operations and maintenance to stop the process, escalate the problem and fix it at the source with the support of leadership.

Most people associate Andon with the visual board in the workplace that signals when there is a problem with the production line. An amber light will flash on the Andon board when a problem has been discovered and, if it cannot be fixed inside the takt time, it will flash red and the line will stop.

The concept is extremely simple. However, in practice, it challenges a great deal of the organisations’ true intentions with Lean, as the reality of stopping the line to fix problems clashes with the idea of losing revenue. In order for the Andon system to work effectively, the organisation needs to have a system for managing stoppages:

  • a problem-solving culture with capability in first line leadership to rapidly identify root cause and implement countermeasures
  • a well thought through team leader to team member ratio in order to respond effectively to Andon calls
  • an effective leadership team that understands the importance of Andon in a Build In Quality environment

The Andon system places empowerment in the hands of the operator.  They have the power to stop the line, and in fact, in a Lean environment, they are encouraged to do so where preventing problems flowing towards the customer is of paramount importance.


Graphic showing a station calling for help: andon




  • Empowerment of the workforce
  • Ability to ‘Stop, Call, Wait’
  • No defects forward
  • Reduce Cost of Non-Quality
  • Downtime understanding to feed CI process
  • Drives a rapid response approach to problem-solving

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This page was written by Bob Newton in February 2018. Due for review in 2019.
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