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Retail outlets save time, improve efficiency with Andon lights

30 July 2015

A few years ago, WERMA became involved in an application involving the use of an LED beacon to signal purchasing problems at unmanned retail cash desks.

“It started to hit home that this application was the start of something quite big when we began receiving an increasing number of enquiries," recalls WERMA UK managing director, Simon Adams.

"Usually this was at the beginning of the week, when a customer had spotted a signal tower above the automated till summoning a supervisor for assistance, and then discovering that this was exactly the sort of thing they were seeking for their own operations.”

The basis of this 'call for action' system is extremely simple. Usually a two- or three-colour LED signal tower forms part of the check out 'swipe' process. When this process is interrupted (for example, when alcohol is being purchased and confirmation of age is required) the bar code of the product is used to alert a supervisor by activating a red flashing light.

Aside from retail, industries, too, are looking at ways of eliminating process wastage and in so doing, become more 'lean' in their operations.  One particular area of concern is the time wasted by shopfloor staff who need to leave their work positions in order to seek assistance for problem resolution before continuing their work.

Easy to install
A manually operated andon light from WERMA comprises a signal tower, a four-button switch box and 'plug-and-play' desktop power supply - all that is needed to provide a visual alert when assistance is required at a workstation.

Add to this, WERMA’s wireless transmission package, WIN, and local calls for help can be wirelessly transmitted to the appropriate departments, ensuring that the call for help is attended to when the operator is out of sight of the visual warning. The call for action can also be displayed on remote PCs or large plasma screens and an email automatically sent to a relevant authority for action.

A simple but comprehensive data collection package displays the actual status of a workstation or production line in real time, thus allowing its performance to be monitored retrospectively - a useful tool for waste reduction exercises.

Since that original retail application, the company concerned has now installed WERMA's call for action system in all of its UK warehouse and packing facilities, with potential expansion possible into mainland Europe.

“In the UK alone we have supplied in excess of two thousand or so andon light sets to this customer alone and our colleagues in Europe are seeing a similar trend," adds Simon Adams. "Alongside the benefits of the package we offer, another critical factor to our success is the very short lead-time we are able to offer - even when it involves orders for hundreds of these sets at a time.”

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