Andon – Subtle Difference Changes Mindset
Last week, I got a refresher and a deeper understanding the lean principles as presented by the Lean Learning Center. One thing deeper understanding I got was around andon (or signals). We started the week off by doing a case study around Toyota. The case study introduces the andon system that is on the production lines at Toyota.
A quick overview of the system. When an operator has an issue, any issue, they pull a cord at the line. The cord sets off music and lights telling the team leader their is a problem. The team leader responds immediately and asks, “What is the problem? How can I help?”
The first time I took the class, 3 years ago, I learned to use sound with the lights. In case the team leader wasn’t looking in the direction of the lights, the sound would tell them the problem. I have used this thinking in the last three years to install a few andon systems.
For three years, I looked at sound and lights as a way to get the team leader’s attention. Here is the subtle difference that I learned this time. Use the sound to alert the team leader of a problem and the lights to indicate where the problem is.
I know this is very subtle, but had I taking this understanding in the past, I would have implemented some andon systems differently. In some cases, I did you sound and lights to alert and tell where, but that was purely by accident. In some cases, I used sound and light just to alert and the the team leader had to find out where. Having this small change to my understanding gives me a whole new perspective on signaling when there is a problem. It allows me to put in systems with even less waste now.
I know this may seem small, but it has caused me to go back think about the small things and WHY I do them. It has me questioning things I haven’t question in a long time or ever before. It re-emphasized the importance of why.
As lean thinkers, implementers, teachers, and coaches we should always be thinking about the why and gaining a deeper understanding.
Posted on November 24, 2010, in Learning, Principles, Tools, Waste and tagged Andon, Andy Carlino, Jamie Flinchbaugh, Lean Learning Center, Learning, Thinking, Toyota, Waste. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.