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-cord 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.