Do You Have an Andon Cord? Maybe you should.


What is an Andon Cord and why would I need it?

The Andon, a key component of the quality driven Toyota Production System, empowers their production workers to pull the cord, halting the assembly line, when a defective part is found. The worker says, “There is a problem. I am stopping the line so we can fix it.” Toyota believes fixing a problem in the manufacturing process is much less expensive, measured in dollars and customer good will, than passing it onto the dealer and the customer for warranty repairs.

Toyota’s process is based upon a simple concept, “Good Thinking Means Good Product."

What is “good product” to you? A manufacturing organization might quickly respond with fewer rejected/reworked goods, less scrap, reduced costs, an engaged workforce, timely and accurate shipments, etc. The benefits to a non-manufacturing company might include fewer mistakes, satisfied customers, increased productivity, reduced costs, and a participative workforce among other things.

Why should you consider creating an Andon for your business? Because you want to deliver a consistently high quality product at a fair price to your customers. Think of it, as everyone in your organization is responsible for quality assurance. No ifs, ands, or buts…. everyone has the responsibility and the authority to stop the process to correct a defect before it gets out the door. The concept is easily transferrable to every business sector, including manufacturing.

The two largest variables for a successful implementation of an Andon involves mutual trust. Do you trust your employees to do the right thing? Do your employees trust you as they consider accepting and using this new authority? That depends on the existing company culture and management styles.

We’ll discuss company culture in a future communication.