Using andons effectively requires more than just a set of lights and an andon board. It demands an effective process that is followed each and every time the lights are illuminated.
In a well-run organization, there is often a lead or floater who works in the production area. He or she does a variety of tasks, but one of the most important is responding to yellow lights. These can be as simple as filling in for “bio-breaks” of helping find a lost tool.
When problems go beyond what a person can handle easily, the lead will light the red light. This means pending trouble if the cavalry doesn’t show up, as a red light will stop the line. Red lights are often accompanied by an audible alarm. Red lights should bring supervisors, managers, and engineers.
Once the problem is resolved, the light is reset to green and people return to their normal operations.
Of note, andon lights can be independent lights at a station, or can be linked to a large board when the size of the facility makes it difficult for leaders to see the entire operation.