Andon – Toyota Production System guide

Discover the 12 other pillars of the Toyota Production System:
Konnyaku Stone
Poka-Yoke
Hansei
Andon
Jidoka 
Just-In-Time
Heijunka
Kaizen
Genchi Genbutsu
Nemawashi
Kanban
Muda, Muri, Mura
Genba

Every Toyota member is viewed as an expert in their field and each and every one is permitted to stop the production line if they spot something they perceive to be a threat to vehicle quality – and they do so by using the Andon cable.

Andon (English: ‘Sign’ or ‘Signal’): A visual aid that highlights where action is required. It is a typical tool in applying the Jidoka, or ‘autonomation’, principle, which means highlighting a problem as it occurs in order to immediately countermeasure the issue and prevent re-occurrence

Originating from the word for a paper lantern, Andon is a term that refers to an illuminated signal notifying others of a problem within the quality-control or production streams.

Activation of the alert – usually by a pull-chord or button – automatically halts production so that a solution can be found. The warning lights are incorporated into an easily visible, overhead signboard (or Kanban), which also identifies the area or specific workstation that has the problem. The frequency and nature of these occasional issues are analysed as part of Toyota’s programme of continual improvement (Kaizen).

The Andon cable is part of the Jidoka production system – read about Jidoka here.

See our full Toyota Production System glossary in this post.

2 comments

  1. In this article, it states:
    “Every Toyota member is viewed as an expert in their field and each and every one is permitted to stop the production line if they spot something they perceive to be a threat to vehicle quality – and they do so by using the Andon cable.”

    Yet elswhere on the web it says:
    misconception which is cleared up within the “Andon” section of the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky website:

    “Now, the line will not stop each time the Andon cord is pulled. The Andon System is not a line stop, it is more of an alert system. The only time the line will stop is if the Team Leader answering the call is unable to solve the problem within the Team member’s takt time.”

    Which description is correct please?

    Thank you

    Ian Robson

    1. Hi Ian,
      Thanks for getting in touch.
      Essentially both are correct. By pulling the Andon cord it alerts the team leader that there is an issue and there is a period of time to address the issue. If the issue cannot be resolved then the line will ultimately stop.
      Thanks.

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