What Is Lights Out Manufacturing?

Robots have a number of advantages over human workers when it comes to manufacturing. Industrial robots work faster than people work. They can carry more weight, too. Unlike human workers industrial machines aren’t prone to errors. They don’t need breaks, they don’t get paid overtime, they don’t get hurt, and they don’t take holidays or request time off for personal emergencies. Also, they can work without the lights on. This is the idea behind lights out manufacturing.

What is lights out manufacturing?

When people talk about lights out manufacturing, or an automatic factory, they’re referring to a factory that is completely automated without the need for human workers. You could turn out the lights, leave the factory, and allow your machines to keep working. Human workers aren’t necessary.

The lights out metaphor is intended to communicate an idea rather than to define a goal. Lights out manufacturing isn’t literally about turning out the lights. Saving a few bucks by leaving the lights off isn’t the end game for automation.

Instead, lights out manufacturing is about maximizing efficiency and profitability. Automatic factories save money by eliminating wages, increasing production, and making the most of floor space. Of course, lights out manufacturing can also help save energy and money on lighting, heating, and cooling, as long as you consider the ambient temperature needs of your machinery.

Is lights out manufacturing attainable?

Lights out manufacturing may sound far-fetched, but many factories are capable of lights out production. Few factories actually operate without the presence of human workers, however.

The best known example of a lights out factory is the FANUC plant in Japan. Robots at the FANUC plant assemble other robots, and can do so unsupervised for up to 30 days at a time.

While true lights out factories are rare, lights out technology is becoming more readily available. Considering the rate at which automation technology is improving, and the clear benefits of lights out production, we should expect to see more automatic factories in the future.

You may still need the lights on in your factory, but your machines should be primed and ready for lights out production. Call 479-422-0390 for maintenance and preventive inspection of Indramat systems.