Editorial


 

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Andon? There's an App for That

Wednesday, May 1, 2019
 

Not enough raw material on hand to finish the run? Stamped parts starting to tear? Tooling malfunctioning, or broken? These and many other unplanned actions can cause a press- or production-line stoppage. When that happens, any shop running a lean operation employs an efficient means of notifying management, maintenance—and perhaps the entire shop floor. Ensuring optimum overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) means that when some unforeseen error interrupts production, corrective action occurs swiftly and with purpose.

Enter the Andon system—one of the principals of the Toyota Production System and its Jidoka quality-control method that so many metalformers practice today. In days gone by, a worker on the floor, to alert others of a production hiccup, pulled a cord to initiate visible (flashing lights, perhaps) and audible alarms, spurring repair crews into action. Then came the ability of manufacturing execution software (MES) to manage such alerts. An MES-based Andon setup can deliver video messages to monitors placed throughout the plant to convey alerts, corrective-action instructions and other pertinent information should production go awry. And, metalformers use the same setups to display press- and production-cell OEE in real time.

The next step in ensuring optimum communication—at the production cell and plant wide? Mobile apps that run on employees’ devices—phones and tablets—that allow workers to see real-time alerts and work instructions, call for help when needed, and reach out to a team of employees for input and support. Let’s face it—not only does this make sense from a communications standpoint, helping to move the OEE needle in the right direction—it also, frankly, is how younger people (hopefully) moving into manufacturing jobs prefer to gather information, on the job or otherwise.

Apps such as these are just some of the technology to be discussed at our IoT conference next month in Cleveland, as is the importance of using modern communication practices to attract, engage and connect with the next-gen mobile-minded workforce. Note: This is today’s workforce, not the workforce of the future.

Make no mistake; the future is here. A recent PwC survey finds that more than 80 percent of manufacturing-company CEOs see “mobile technologies as being strategically important for their enterprises.” Likewise, a survey by Decision Analyst finds that “91 percent of the fastest-growing metal manufacturers rely on mobile ERP access for improved data accuracy.”

A blog post on the California Manufacturing Technology Consulting website describes 13 manufacturing-specific mobile apps. Among them:

  • The 5S-Lean Audit Checklist, designed to help managers track their facility’s use of lean tools and continuous-improvement initiatives;
  • The Efficiency Energy Audit Checklist, supporting directives to maintain efficient HVAC systems and to save energy throughout the facility; and
  • The Internal Quality Audit Report, an app that allows quality managers and their teams—without the need for pesky paper forms—to easily compare audit findings to policy to enable the teams to act proactively in order to avoid customer-quality issues.

Mobile technology undoubtedly pervades your home—now bring it into the plant.

 


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