Smart Add-Ons in Industry: Andons and Digital Shopfloorboards

At a glance: Andons and Digital Shopfloorboards – A brief overview.

Continuous improvement of production processes and ensuring high quality standards is of crucial importance in every modern manufacturing.

To achieve these goals, companies are leveraging innovative approaches and technologies that make their production workflow more efficient and transparent, while also providing employees with the necessary information.

One of these proven tools is the Andon System, a visual control system used in the industry to monitor production processes, detect issues and reduce response times during disruptions. 

Digital Shopfloorboards offer the ability to customize information and displays according to the specific requirements of the manufacturing company. This enables easy adoption to changing production conditions and demands. 

In this article, we take a closer look at functions, benefits and applications of Andons and digital Shopfloorboards in the industry.

What is an Andon?

The Andon System is originally a visual control tool that originates from the lean philosophy. It consists color-coded light displays or signal lamps that are placed at workstations or machines in the production environment. The different colors indicate the current state of the production process: green for normal operation, yellow for a deviation from the standard and red for an issue or problem. When an employee identifies a problem, they can activate the Andon System by pressing a button or operating a lever. This immediately makes the problem visible and the relevant personnel can take immediate action.

 

Functionality and Benefits of Andons:

  • Early Problem Detection: The Andon System allows employees to detect problems at an early stage, even before they can escalate into major disruptions. This enables swift countermeasures to be taken and reduces downtime.
  • Transparency and Communication: Andons promote transparency in the production environment, as all employees can instantly see the status of processes. This facilitates communication and collaboration among employees, fostering effective teamwork.
  • Quality Improvement: By swiftly identifying deviations from standard, quality issues can be recognized and rectified early, leading to enhanced product quality.
  • Efficiency Enhancement: The Andon System enables continuous monitoring of production processes, swiftly identifying bottlenecks or inefficiencies. This leads to process optimization and an overall increase in efficiency. 

Andons find usage across various industries, including manufacturing, automotive, logistics, warehousing, as well as the food and pharmaceutical sectors. They are used in both manual and automated production environments and can be employed in different processes such as assembly, quality control, maintenance, and troubleshooting. The terms Andon and Shopfloorboard are often mistakenly used as synonyms, but there are significant differences between them.

Andons and Shopfloorboards – The Differences:

The Andon System has proven to be a valuable tool for enhancing productivity, quality, and efficiency. Through early problem detection and transparent information display, it empowers employees to effectively respond to disruptions and optimize production processes, creating an agile production environment.

A Shopfloorboard, also known as a production board or visualization board in manufacturing, is a physical and/or digital communication tool used in production environments to visually represent the status of production processes and workflows. The advantage of a Shopfloorboard lies in its ability to make critical information visible at a glance and serve as a single point of truth, promoting efficient communication among employees. It provides real-time production data, displays video streams and other relevant metrics (such as OEE, Leadtime, Production Downtime, Costs Per Unit (CPU) and many more.) Read also our article “Top 7 Manufacturing-KPIs and how to track them properly”.

Information about ongoing orders, work progress, and other relevant metrics is continuously updated, presented, and easily accessible to all employees. This allows for prompt identification, discussion, and proactive resolution of potential bottlenecks to prevent major disruptions in production.

Motivational Aspect:

In production, individual work steps are often very detailed and can become monotonous tasks for everyone involved. When progress suddenly becomes visible, this greatly contributes to the motivation of the teams.

On a well-designed Shopfloorboard, all participants can see their contribution to the overall production and team progress at a glance. This establishes and promotes a flexible and adaptable culture in production.

Shopfloorboards thus enable enhanced production control,  faster problem-solving and continuous process optimization. They play a crucial role in increasing efficiency, quality and productivity in production, creating a transparent and well-organized work environment.

 

Fabian von Stülpnagel

Fabian von Stülpnagel

Sales Development Representative

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