Andon Lamp: The Key to Visualizing Work Processes in Lean Manufacturing


Andon lamps are an essential aspect of lean manufacturing, and they have transformed the way businesses operate. This tool helps to visualize work processes, eliminate waste, and increase overall efficiency. An Andon Lamp is a visual management tool that can be used to signal workers of problems in real-time. This article will discuss how Andon lamps work, their benefits, and some examples of how they have been used around the globe.

What is an Andon Lamp?

An Andon lamp is a visual signal that alerts workers to a deviation or problem in the manufacturing process. The signal is usually displayed on a large, highly visible sign or a wall-mounted light. The Andon lamp derives its name from the Japanese word for “paper lantern.” This tool is crucial to Lean manufacturing, as it signifies a workstation’s status, operation productivity, efficiency, and output.

How Does an Andon Lamp Work?

When a production problem occurs, the team member working on the line pulls the Andon cord or presses a button to signal a problem. When the cord is pulled or button is pushed, the light on the board or wall lights up, indicating which workstation has signaled. The team leader evaluates the problem, determines its cause and takes steps to address it. Often, this immediate problem solving can keep a small issue from becoming a larger issue that could cause delays, waste, or defects.

Benefits of using Andon Lamps in Manufacturing

Implementing an Andon system in the manufacturing process offers many benefits. Here are a few:

Real-time Problem solving said

Since Andon lamps are real-time alerts, they quickly notify workers of production issues, making it easier to solve the problem before it gets out of hand. With a clear signal indicating where the problem occurred, the team leader can quickly identify the root cause of the problem and provide a solution.

Eliminate Waste

Andon lights significantly reduce waste by enabling immediate identification of any production issues. This can reduce scrap costs and rework, which can lead to improved productivity and profitability.

Improves Communication

In a high-paced production environment, communication is essential. The Andon system creates transparency in the production processes, allowing workers to communicate with their team leaders and colleagues to solve the problem together.

Andon Lamp Examples

There are many examples of how businesses have incorporated Andon lamps into their manufacturing processes. Here are a few:


Toyota was the first company to use Andon lamps in 1960. They developed the automation process of responding to signals from workers on the factory floor as a means of maintaining quality, production, and bringing more efficiency to their manufacturing process.


Honda uses a signal tower with Andon display lamps to signal production abnormalities. A series of lights signal the production line’s status and the condition of the machine. If a light on the tower turns red, it indicates a problem with a particular work station or process, allowing quick identification and fixing of the problem.

Lean Project Consulting

Lean Project Consulting, a manufacturing consulting firm, has developed a simple, efficient Andon visual management system that alerts workers of any issues in real-time. In this system, an Andon board is displayed in front of the whole team, highlighting production status, problems encountered, and the required decision-making processes.

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