to all Blog Posts

Efficient process control with the Andon system

Published: · Last updated: · 6 min reading time

This article will give you an overview of the Andon system. It is a key element of lean manufacturing that supports production, particularly in visual management. The visual traffic light principle of an Andon system is installed in the SAP I4.0 Popup Factory in Walldorf, networked by the FORCAM solution FORCE EDGE CONNECT. Here you will get a general overview of Andon, its development, basics, areas of application and its significance for the continuous improvement process.

A modern production environment with Andon system

Development: How was Andon created?

The Andon system is an integral part of the Toyota Production System (TPS), now known as Lean Manufacturing. At its core, lean manufacturing is based on eliminating waste, improving quality and increasing productivity by focusing on a continuous improvement process (CIP) throughout the manufacturing process.

Andon comes from Japanese and means (paper) lamp. Andon in production was created to make problems immediately visible. Production employees could quickly signal to management manually if there were bottlenecks, quality problems or a machine breakdown. Andon lamps installed on the machines enabled attention to be drawn to this area by means of visual and acoustic signals.

Over time, the system developed further and was supplemented by digital aids. These include a software connection, display panels and screens. As a result, Andon has been further improved and can make communication in production and problem solving even more efficient.

The advantages are clear:

  • Those responsible receive real-time feedback from production,
  • which significantly increases responsiveness
  • and overall downtimes can be significantly reduced.

Understanding the Andon system: Basics and how it works

In the manufacturing industry, a digitally controlled visual Andon control system makes problems and bottlenecks visible in real time. Signal lamps or digital displays indicate faults. Andon detects and communicates problems quickly, supports factory teams in their ability to react and contributes to the continuous improvement of production processes overall.

An Andon system is comprised of the following components:

  • Communication system
  • Andon boards
  • Andon lamps
  • Andon cords and emergency stop switch
Communication system

The communication system deals with the fast and reliable transmission of information in real time. The information is transmitted to the relevant employees via various communication channels so that it can be resolved at an operational level.

To this end, escalation processes should be clearly defined. All team members must have the same understanding of how to respond to Andon signals. If no solution is found at an operational level, a hierarchical escalation and a predefined escalation path are required. This is the only way to solve problems efficiently.

For continuous improvement, the operating states, in particular intentional and unintentional downtimes, must be logged and documented. This creates an objective data-based foundation for making the right adjustments to the CIP. Part of the communication system is that this information is also made available via other systems.

In summary, the communication system consists of:

  1. Real-time communication
  2. Multi-channel communication
  3. Escalation processes
  4. Logging and documentation
  5. Integration with other systems

Visual warning signals for immediate reaction are an essential component of an Andon system

Andon Lamps: Keeping an eye on the state of production

A central component of an Andon system is the Andon lamp. This indicates the operating status of production lines or machines in the form of different colors. It can be triggered either manually or automatically.

The traffic light system displays the operating statuses in the three familiar colors: green, yellow and red, and promotes visual real-time communication in the production process. The traffic light system is particularly useful for quickly recognizing the operating status of machines and production lines.

  • A green signal indicates normal operating status.
  • A yellow signal indicates that adjustments are required or that help is needed.
  • A red signal means that production has stopped or there is a fault.

The warning lights should be positioned so that they are easily recognizable and immediately draw attention to the area where there is a problem.

Andon cords and emergency stop switch

Andon cords, also known as pull cords, are straps that can be operated by production employees and are pulled when a problem is detected to escalate irregularities. Pulling an Andon cord stops the production process. This enables immediate problem analysis and prevents the continued production of faulty products.

Emergency stop switches play a similar role to Andon cords and serve as a control device. They enable employees to intervene immediately and stop production if necessary. This can be crucial in identifying serious safety problems or preventing significant production errors.

Graphic: How can we use the Andon cord principles from Iosh Magazin

Andon boards as an information center

The Andon Board is another important component of an Andon system. They serve as an information center for production. By providing important operational information such as quality defect rates, productivity rates and production output, Andon boards support employees in process control and management in making decisions for optimization measures.

Difference between Andon lamp and Andon system

The Andon lamp is often equated with the Andon system. However, the Andon lamp is only one component as a signal on the machine or production line. The Andon system includes other aspects such as the communication system and the continuous improvement of production processes.

In short: an Andon system goes far beyond an Andon lamp.

Areas of application for Andon systems in production

FORCAM ENISCO makes it possible to retrofit existing machines with Andon lamps for an SAP Production Process Designer. Find out more about this below.

Andon systems are extremely versatile and can be used in a variety of production environments. They offer both visual signals and communication options that contribute to quality assurance and continuous improvement.

The traffic light principle of Andon lamps with status messages in the familiar color scheme is installed in a model production line in the SAP Industry 4.0 Popup Factory in Walldorf. The Andon lamps are digitally networked using FORCAM’s EDGE CONNECT solution.

Continuous improvement with Andon

Andon systems support process optimization in line with the principles of lean production. An Andon system efficiently detects problems and bottlenecks in production. In addition to the rapid response, valuable data is obtained for future optimization.

An insight into production with a lasting impact: factory teams can use data analysis to identify and solve problems and improve overall efficiency in the long term.

Integration into digital production environments

In the modern and connected industry, the integration of Andon systems into digital production environments is crucial. Such integration further optimizes the benefits of an Andon system: digital integration enables immediate fault detection in real time and further reduces downtime. Production efficiency is further increased.


To summarize, Andon systems are an essential part of modern production environments. They contribute to efficiency, quality and continuous improvement by providing visual signals and communication capabilities that greatly accelerate the ability to respond to production problems.

Ultimately, a digitally implemented Andon system helps to significantly increase productivity, further improve quality and promote a culture of continuous improvement.

Frequently asked questions

Success Story: FORCAM partner increases efficiency and decreases scrap.   Learn How