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From the Lean Lexicon 5th Edition:
Andon: A visual management tool that highlights the status of operations in an area at a single glance and that signals whenever an abnormality occurs. An andon can indicate production status (for example, which machines are operating), an abnormality (for example, machine downtime, a quality problem, tooling faults, operator delays, and materials shortages), and needed actions, such as changeovers. An andon also can be used to display the status of production in terms of the number of units planned versus actual output. A typical andon, which is the Japanese term for "lamp," is an overhead signboard with rows of numbers corresponding More »
Andon Cues Service Center to Respond to Customer Queue
By: Chet Marchwinski | March 13, 2018
An Ohio Mutual service center has no andon cord to stop a production line but the principal is the same as in a factory -- an abnormality has occurred, take corrective action. More »
Mindset and the Andon Cord
By: Mike Rother | March 4, 2018
When it comes to Andon, we like to talk about visual management, fast response, supporting employees, and other technical aspects. Yet a fundamental mindset underlying the Andon system may be an acceptance and even enjoyment of the unpredictable nature of everday life. With such a mindset it might actually seem odd to not have an Andon cord! More »
Will a real andon system bring the factory to a full stop?
By: Ballé, Michael | June 26, 2017
Dear Gemba Coach: What would happen if we practiced andon for real – wouldn’t the factory simply stop? More »
We’re installing an andon system – what should we expect?
By: Michael Ballè | July 18, 2016
Dear Gemba Coach: We’re installing an andon system – what should we expect? More »
Why won't operators use andons?
By: Ballé, Michael | April 18, 2016
Dear Gemba Coach: We’re struggling with andons. We’ve set up a button for operators to press and call for help, but they’re not using it as much as we hoped, and we don’t know how to make it work properly. Any thoughts? More »
How Lean Thinking and Practice, Grounded in Purpose, Helped Drive Amazon’s Success
By: Lean Leaper | May 7, 2021
Marc Onetto shares his experiences in Amazon, underlining the importance of a customer-driven approach in times of heavy demand and production. More »
Understanding the 4S Help Chain, Part 2: Lessons from NUMMI on How to Adapt the Model to Product Development
By: Matt Zayko | April 29, 2021
How do you create an andon signal for your product and process development process? Matt Zayko, a technical coach for LEI's Lean Product and Process Development team, explains. More »
Understanding the 4S Help Chain, Part 1: Lessons from NUMMI on How to Manage Work Disruptions
By: Matt Zayko | April 27, 2021
What are the four critical characteristics of an effective help chain? Matt Zayko, a technical coach for LEI's Lean Product and Process Development team, explains. More »
By: Josh Howell | August 11, 2020
Living through a pandemic is giving me a new appreciation for the value of routines and how they come to be. On the one hand, while sheltering-at-home, I’ve developed and keep tweaking an extensive morning routine: wake up, pour a glass of homemade cold brew, read something and/or go for a run, clean myself up, plan out my workday, shoot off a few emails and messages on Slack, fire up Zoom, huddle up with my colleagues, and eat lunch with my family. I have never had this much consistency in my day-to-day. I’ve been a high-volume business traveler for the More »
Autonomous Car Beta Version, Anyone? A Q&A with Jim Womack on Disruptive Innovation
By: Jim Womack | April 30, 2020
What may be ahead for carmakers, product developers, and the lean management movement in a disrupted world is the subject of this Q&A with Jim Womack, founding CEO of the nonprofit Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI). He talked with LEI Communications Director Chet Marchwinski at the Designing the Future Summit that showcases how companies are applying lean product and process development (LPPD). More »
The Impact of Social Distancing on Assembly Operations
By: John Y. Shook | April 1, 2020
Take a deep-dive look at how GE Appliances and Herman Miller are working on designing a safe work environment for production employeesduring the Covid-19 pandemic. More »
Can lean management help with the start of production?
By: Michael Ballé | December 9, 2019
Dear Gemba Coach: Can lean management help with the start of production? More »
Where can I find information about visual management?
By: Michael Ballé | October 21, 2019
Dear Gemba Coach: I can’t find much written about visual management although it seems an important part of lean – any idea where to look? More »
I don’t get kanban -- I don’t work in production so how would it apply to one-off work?
By: Michael Ballé | July 29, 2019
Dear Gemba Coach: I feel that I still don’t get kanban. I don’t work in production, and I fail to see how stock replenishment would apply to one-off work. More »
Any advice for a team with a new boss who doesn’t know lean but wants us to switch to agile instead?
By: Michael Ballé | July 8, 2019
Dear Gemba Coach: We have a new boss who doesn’t know lean and is asking our lean team to switch to “agile” instead. Any advice? More »
What's your problem
By: John Shook | October 31, 2018
There may be nothing more fundamental to lean thinking and practice than problem solving. For that matter, there may be nothing more fundamental to being human than problem solving. We breathe, we eat, we create civilizations – we deal with (solve, tackle) problems every step of the way. More »
There are so many lean management principles to know and tools to master at the start – is there an easier way to begin?
By: Michael Balle' | October 22, 2018
Dear Gemba Coach: Isn’t there an easier way to start lean? For a beginner, it seems like such a mountain to climb – all these things to know, tools to master, counter-intuitive principles to grapple with. Can’t we make access easier? More »
Why does visual management at a Toyota plant look so much different than at ours?
By: Michael Ballé | September 3, 2018
Dear Gemba Coach: We have been deploying lean visual management in my company for a while now, and I am troubled because I finally visited a Toyota plant and found far fewer boards and papers on the walls than we use – we seem to cover every surface. It made me wonder whether we’re doing this right. More »
Why haven't lean tools changed our culture?
By: Michael Ballé | July 30, 2018
Dear Gemba Coach: I’m part of a team that has been tasked to implement lean tools across the company to drive continuous improvement actions, and yet I see little overall change in our culture. I read about cases where lean works and wonder what we could be doing wrong. More »
Why don't I see any significant performance improvement from obeya rooms?
By: Michael Ballè | May 22, 2018
Dear Gemba Coach: We’ve deployed obeyas all across our organization, but I can’t see any significant improvement in our results. We can better see which teams perform and which don’t, but the good teams stay good and the poor ones poor and I’m not sure the increased performance is worth the effort. Are we doing something wrong? More »
As CEO, how do I get my management team to support the lean effort?
By: Michael Ballé | April 23, 2018
Dear Gemba Coach: As a CEO, lean has enabled me to renew our company’s profitable growth, so I love it. But getting my management team on board is a daily struggle. Thoughts? More »
Why do you keep referring to Toyota; does it still matter?
By: Michael Balle | March 26, 2018
Dear Gemba Coach: I’m very interested in lean, but fail to see why you guys keep referring to Toyota. What does a Toyota plant look like and why should it still matter? More »
What do you recommend -- clarify roles and responsibilities first or reengineer the process first and then define R&R?
By: Ballé, Michael | October 16, 2017
Dear Gemba Coach: What do you recommend – clarify roles and responsibilities first or reengineer the process first and then define R&R? More »
Follow-up to your comments on the “lean is a scam” column
By: Ballé, Michael | June 5, 2017
Dear Gemba Coach Readers: I’ve been following the “scam” discussion with interest. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. Maybe the original questioner’s use of “scam” was a bit of an exaggeration. More »
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