How to Improve Productivity with an ESP8266 Light Controller & Andon Manufacturing System

ANAVI Light controller was launched in 2018, and I had the chance to review a sample and wrote a guide showing how to use an ESP8266 board to control an LED strip using Arduino code, MQTT protocol, and HTML5 code.

It’s a fun toy for people using it at home, but Paul Cancouët – working for Wing company offering “Logistics as a Service” solutions – added several ANAVI Light controllers to their packing warehouse.

You can see the lights on the left side of the packing stations. Those are pretty, but what are they for? The lights help to improve productivity using an Andon system usually found in factories, but in this case, used for packing.

Andon – meaning paper lantern in Japanese – refers to a system to notify management, maintenance, and other workers of a quality or process problem with the alert either activated automatically or manually by a worker.

Initially, they went with an offline solution using stack lights and a buzzer, but it was not easy to install, and not that useful. A better solution was needed, so they built a prototype comprised of ANAVI Light Controller starter kit, an outdoor wall light, a PVC tube, a 3D printed socket, and a 12V power supply.

Wing now uses those ESP8266 lights both to have a visual signal on-site (lights on packing station) and remotely as MQTT updates are sent over the network using a simple web interface based on Bootstrap.

The operator can then easily request more supplies (carton boxes, envelopes, etc..), report an anomaly, and set his work status.

The system was further improved to push data to a Google spreadsheet for analytics, send Slack notifications to a manager when needed, and a web-based global monitoring dashboard was designed to monitor all stations at a glance.

Wing Andon System Architecture

That’s quite a neat system, and further refinements are expected. You may even be able to easily reproduce their setup as the code has been pushed to Github. This is not the first project to implement Andon signal with ESP8266 and AWS MQTT broker, as another project published two years ago does something similar but with a 4-color LED tower and fewer features.

You’ll find more details about Wing Andon’s solution on the update posted on ANAVI Light Crowd Supply page.

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