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Andon Boards & Productivity Displays

Andon boards are visual production control devices that are used to draw attention to problems in manufacturing. Originally used by the automotive industry (first in Ford factories in the early 20th century, and then by Toyota) in a different form, Andons were created to improve the flow of information in factories so that when problems arose, these could be fixed faster, without stopping the production line.

Original Andons were operated manually with a simple cord that was pulled by an operator if there was a problem in the factory. A second pull would usually cancel the signal and indicate that the problem had been solved. Later, factories used switches or buttons, and Andon systems were often automated with sensors or computerized programs.

The simplest type of Andon system uses a stack light similar to a traffic light on top of a piece of equipment or machine. Different colored lights flash to indicate warnings, problems, defects, or to show that assistance is required.

Andon boards display more information, literally summarizing information about the changing status of the production line on one board. Old school Andon boards work mechanically using lights and LED number displays. More modern boards take the form of large-screen monitors that display the information via computer software. Some factories also use sound signals.

Today Andon boards and productivity displays come in a variety of guises and have a number of different names including process display boards, bingo boards, factory displays, lean manufacturing boards, LED fault annunciators, electronic message centers, and process control boards. All these systems are used for the visual management of a plant or process to help improve and drive productivity.

Not all visual management boards are found on production lines. Many are used simply to display performance data or show how projects can be improved.

The Value of Visual Management

Visual management is a process that involves displaying critical information such as key performance indicators (KPIs) that relate specifically to production output, efficiency, and quality. By displaying this data on the factory floor, on display boards, employees have a better sense of production levels and are encouraged to strive for higher performance.

Visual management also provides specific information that can be used by supervisors to monitor performance better and ascertain, in real‐time, which areas could be improved. The overall result helps to drive productivity throughout the organization by increasing efficiency, and quality, and by minimizing downtime.

Common KPIs for Plant and Factory Floors

KPIs may be used to track, assess and analyze various manufacturing processes. Different KPIs indicate performance measurements that may be used to evaluate just how successful certain goals and objectives have been.

Common KPIs used in plants and factories include:

  • Good and bad counts that reflect the amount of product that has been produced, typically since a machine changeover or change in shift.
  • Reject ratios that measure the quantity of materials that have had to be scrapped. Profitability relates directly to scrap, which should always be minimized.
  • Rate at which machines and processes work and produce products. Generally, faster speeds can affect quality while slower speeds result in fewer goods being produced. For this reason consistency is paramount.
  • Targets that identify what employees should aim for in terms of rate, quality, and output.
  • Takt time which reflects how long it takes to complete tasks or task cycles. Generally displaying takt time helps to prevent bottlenecks.
  • Overall Equipment effectiveness (OEE), a metric that multiplies quality and performance by availability to determine the utilization of resources. Increasing OEE generally improves utilization of machines and personnel and makes manufacturing processes more efficient.
  • Downtime which is one of the most important KPI metrics manufacturers need to keep track off, because it has such a negative effect on productivity and therefore profitability. Productivity display boards may be used to identify reasons for downtime.

MESH Solutions for Productivity Displays

MESH Automation designs many different solutions that may be used for displaying information relating to productivity, including Andon boards and the full range of productivity displays. We also develop systems that display process status on PC monitors, on screens via projectors, and on any off-the-shelf television sets.

Contact us to discuss your needs.