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

Here's a peek behind our 2014 film & sheet ranking   September 15, 2014 1:22 pm ET
Weighing in on top plastics personalities   September 8, 2014 5:12 pm ET
How's the media treating plastics these days?   August 27, 2014 10:49 am ET
A peek behind our 2014 ranking of rotational molders   August 25, 2014 2:00 pm ET
More reshoring success stories with Wal-Mart connections   August 21, 2014 6:11 pm ET
Small country introducing plastic coins   August 20, 2014 10:48 am 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

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events