The Plastics Blog
By Don Loepp | About The Plastics Blog

Toyota cutting its fabled 'andon' cord

By Rhoda Miel | August 6, 2014 10:04 am ET

Toyota is cutting the cord.

No, we’re not talking about a cable TV bill, but potentially something much bigger when it comes to manufacturing trends. The Japanese carmaker has dropped the “fabled” andon cord at two of its plants — the overhead cord that is at the center of so much of the Toyota Production System, the lean manufacturing system which allows any worker to act on a problem by pulling a cord to signal supervisors or even halt the line.

The andon cord has been touted as such a key to high quality manufacturing that Toyota Motor Corp. made promotional videos about it, while suppliers and competitors adopted it for its own plants.

But times change. As Hans Greimel, a reporter for Plastics News sister publication Automotive News writes, when Toyota revamped its Tsutsumi plant at its headquarters of Toyota City, Japan, it eliminated the cords. They were also dropped at an assembly facility in Japan.

“Toyota’s manufacturing gurus want to cut the clutter over the workspace, creating a sort-of blue sky, for a couple reasons,” Greimel wrote. “First, it creates a less oppressive, more comfortable, open-air work environment. Second, there are safety and efficiency benefits because there is less overhead to snag long, cumbersome components or tools.”

You can read the whole story here.

But the concept behind the andon cord isn’t going away. Toyota instead installed buttons that workers can press to signal problems.

So does that mean that other plants and automakers will follow suit? Don’t be surprised if they do, since the Toyota Production System has become the template for manufacturers the world over. Maybe the next time you’re getting ready to bring a new plant online, you’ll be encouraged to invest in the latest lean technology: the button.

(Thanks to PN news editor Rhoda Miel for this post).


Recent Blog Posts

People who ditch single-use plastic bags eat more cookies   April 20, 2015 11:38 am ET
From space to Earth   April 8, 2015 11:31 am ET
Plastics recyclers suffering, PN pricing in the news   April 6, 2015 11:43 am ET
Plastic gets official for March Madness   March 19, 2015 10:47 am ET
SAE may change, but auto technology marches on   March 13, 2015 12:24 pm ET
Plastics companies named manufacturing leaders   March 4, 2015 5:58 pm ET

Comments

Toyota cutting its fabled 'andon' cord

By Rhoda Miel

Published: August 6, 2014 10:04 am ET
Updated: August 6, 2014 10:11 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story

Market Reports

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 15, 2015 - September 17, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events