Have you thought about Implementing an Andon station on your shop floor? Do you have CIMCO MDC-Max running in your shop already? If you answered yes to either of these questions then it is easier to deploy than you think.
What is Andon?
Before we look at how, let’s take a brief look at what Andon means in manufacturing. Wikipedia defines Andon as:
A manufacturing term referring to a system to notify management, maintenance, and other workers of a quality or process problem. – Wikipedia
How is Andon used in Manufacturing today?
The basis of the Andon system is using a visual representation of a quality, safety, or process issue at the operator level. The reason being that the operator is the first to see a problem, sometimes before it even becomes a problem. This gives them the ability to raise a warning or stop a production line. Encouraging them to do so quickly will isolate the defect, hopefully before bad parts leave the station.
The visual representation on the Andon board in addition to any sort of automatic notifications generated by the system is designed to get the right people involved quickly. They work together to identify the root cause of the problem. Once a solution is found and implemented, production resumes. The long term goal is a more robust manufacturing process that suffers fewer production stops and produces a more uniform quality end product.
Using CIMCO MDC-Max for Andon
Now that we have a brief overview of Andon systems in manufacturing, let’s see how CIMCO MDC-Max can fill the role of that system in addition to all the other great features it has. With MDC, you already get the status of each of your machines in your dashboards and on your live screens. While it can have any scheme desired by the end customer, typically the machine will be green if it’s running, blue-grey for idle, or flashing red if there is an alarm, etc. Custom machine states corresponding to an Andon state with a custom color can be added to signify an alert.
For instance, yellow for an Andon warning and orange or magenta for an Andon Alert line stop. The process of “pulling the Andon cord” would be similar for an operator to logging a stop for tool breakage or similar in MDC. Simply scan an Andon bar code. It is also possible to implement custom levels of Andon alert in MDC similar to the idle reason codes. One example would be to include the maintenance department on a safety-related stop but not for a quality control concern.
In Addition to getting the right people involved quickly, MDC provides them with key information for their root cause analysis. As a basic example, it can provide data for the cycle, idle, and alarm timers, as well as good and scrap part counts. This data is extremely important in cases where tool life or surface finish is the cause for a line stop.
Automate your Andon Alerts
What if we wanted to take it a step further? Why not have the system itself initiate an Andon alert? There are multiple ways we can go about this. If your operators log scrap parts with a bar code in MDC, it can be set up to initiate an Andon alert at a certain scrap number. For example, “yellow warning” alert at 10+ scrap and “pink line stop” alert at 20 scrap pieces. At this point, MDC could be configured to email key personnel the machine information to initiate a root cause analysis.
Another great example is to have the machine initiate an Andon alert itself. Let’s say a machine has been running the same part all week and for some reason, the cycle time on the current part is 10% over the average for the week. The machine will trigger an Andon alert itself, notifying the supervisor and the maintenance dept of a potential failure causing a loss of production and/or possible safety concern.
It is also possible to generate an Andon alert any time the machine alarms. I mention this with a word of caution. If this functionality is desired, I highly recommend having the ability to disable it. Using a bar code to “Arm” and “Disarm” the alerting is simple. This way you can enable it for continuous production without sending an email to a supervisor every time a setup operator gets a travel limit alarm.
MDC-Max Does Andon, and Much More
The examples above are only how one might envision using MDC-Max as an Andon solution. CIMCO MDC-Max is capable of so much more than what we covered today. One of the greatest features of CIMCO products is that they can be tailored to do things in a way that fits your need or shop floor environment. Everything from the reason a machine stopped to the method you use to log that reason can be adapted to your project’s individual needs. This is what gives us the opportunity to create custom solutions for customers that are tailored to real needs and meet the most ambitious Industry 4.0 plans you might have. Wondering what it might look like in your environment? Drop us a line and we’d be happy to discuss your aspirations.