Call for help, boost productivity – everyone has the right to do it at any time. This is Andon.
Andon has been proven to be an effective way of overcoming manufacturing issues at the point of contention before they spiral into larger issues. It is a key part of Jidoka, a quality-control method pioneered by Toyota as part of its well-known Toyota Production System and is now one part of lean manufacturing.
Navistar manufacturing leadership aspires to build this mindset where employees on the front lines feel comfortable and even empowered to “pull” the Andon cord.
“No problem is a problem. If we aren’t willing to quickly identify our problems, they won’t get fixed,” said Mark Hernandez, senior VP, Global Manufacturing. “I encourage all our employees, especially those on the frontlines to use the Andon call system as soon as they see an issue and we will work together to resolve it.”
Navistar’s manufacturing team has invested in Andon tools over the past several years including systems that make it easy to “pull” the Andon cord.
“We are working hard to make sure we are together as a team using the Andon mindset and tools to identify issues and take ownership of those issues as leaders,” said Jeff Webb, VP, Manufacturing. “Our trucks and buses are complex vehicles to build – problems will occur. When we call them out, we increase quality and get trucks to our customers more promptly.”
Mark expressed that Andon must work as a system with the other lean principles such as quality feedback loops and structured escalation.
“Andon is intertwined with almost all of the lean principles. It helps us bring value to customers, improves our process flow and focuses on continuous improvement,” said Scott Shoemaker, senior process manager, Manufacturing.
Other industries and highly successful organizations also use Andon. For example, Amazon uses it as part of their customer service process. When a customer calls to issue a complaint about a product he or she has just purchased, the customer service agent is empowered to solve the problem, so the business doesn’t stop. This means the product is taken off Amazon’s site until they fix the defect and customers can see that the product has been pulled for quality issues in real time.
“Navistar’s manufacturing leadership recognizes that regardless of how Andon is being used, the only way it will work is if we truly empower our employees to use it. This is the culture that we aspire to build, and the work is underway in our plants,” said Mark.