Archive: Jul 2021

Lights Out Manufacturing

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Hogge Precision Parts Co., Inc. provides contract manufacturing services using computer numerical control (CNC) and screw machining equipment. Our extensive portfolio of machining centers combined with our 42,000-square-foot manufacturing facility allows us to deliver custom components for a wide range of industries. For most applications, we are capable of providing what is known as “lights out” manufacturing services. 
Lights out manufacturing describes fully automated production that keeps running even after employees have gone home. Utilizing lights out manufacturing methodology, Hogge Precision Parts is able to deliver machined components on time and at highly competitive prices. Let’s take a closer look at lights out manufacturing, along with its benefits and challenges.

What is Lights Out Manufacturing?

Lights Out Manufacturing

Friday afternoon, everyone has gone home but our machines are still running.

Lights out manufacturing is a production method that requires minimal or no human interaction beyond initial programming and tooling setup. To create a lights out operation, significant portions of the manufacturing process must be automated so extensively that the equipment continues production even after all workers have left the building and turned and turned off the lights—hence the name. The automated machinery handles the physical production aspect, while human workers plan production schedules, manage the facility, maintain equipment, and program the automated machine tools and other assets. 

Benefits of Lights Out Production

There are many benefits to lights out production methods, with one of the most significant ones being cost reduction. Since the machines work continuously, a lights out facility’s manufacturing capacity increases greatly while total production costs diminish. Efficiency is also maximized in lights out manufacturing operations since fully automated machines can work without stopping. 

Additionally, the accuracy and precision of automated machine tools creates end products that are highly consistent, with little need for rework or secondary processing in many situations.

Challenges of Lights Out Production

Lights Out Manufacturing

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While lights out production comes with many significant benefits, there are also a number of challenges. Fully autonomous manufacturing environments need to address these key issues in order to deliver accurate and reliable services. 

  • Reliable off-site accessibility. Even with the most advanced automated manufacturing technology, unforeseen issues can always arise. When they do, human intervention is needed. Operators must be able to access production equipment remotely from an internet-connected device. Incorporating an effective manufacturing execution system (MES) and robust connectivity hardware infrastructure will ensure visibility into real-time production data even when no one is present in the production facility. 
  • Safety and reliability. Since no workers are present during lights out manufacturing, there is no one around to address potential failures or malfunctions during off-hours. By employing an MES solution, staff gets notified about the need for maintenance should the equipment fall below its expected Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).  The MES can also help to manage preventative maintenance schedules to proactively avoid issues. 
  • Technical challenges. Lights out manufacturing requires a high degree of technical proficiency. For example, connecting older machines to a new MES to run them in a lights out capacity may require overcoming a variety of glitches and obstacles. Getting set up for lights out may require bringing in a systems integrator that can make sure all relevant systems communicate with each other. 
  • Economy of scale. Developing a lights out production facility requires a significant financial investment and overcoming numerous operational hurdles to reach a point where everything functions optimally. As a result, a lights out setup might not be a worthwhile undertaking for small-scale production facilities. 

Lights Out Manufacturing With Hogge Precision

Lights out manufacturing is a highly beneficial process that can be used to produce a large selection of components. Experienced lights out facilities can deliver key benefits to customers, such as reduced production times, extreme production efficiency, and lower labor costs. 

Hogge Precision Parts Co., Inc. has been delivering reliable contract manufacturing services since 1989. Our lights out manufacturing capabilities allow us to deliver precision components at competitive prices for a wide range of industries. To learn more or get started on your manufacturing solution, contact us or request a quote today.

The Advantages of Reshoring

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For the last few years, many manufacturing companies have been focused on reshoring their operations. This process of bringing manufacturing back to the United States and away from overseas facilities helps companies save time, money, and complications, and it’s a powerful way to strengthen the U.S. economy. It brings more jobs back to local communities, builds a skilled workforce, and helps to balance the country’s trade and budget deficit. 

The pandemic highlighted the weaknesses associated with offshore manufacturing, including delays and other supply chain disruptions, and many manufacturing companies accelerated their plans to reshore. They’re already experiencing the benefits:

Greater Control Over Production and Higher Quality Products

Offshore facilities are operating under the rules and regulations present in that country—which may not be as strict as the regulations in the United States. That could (and often does) mean lower production quality, poorer working conditions, and less environmental responsibility. 

By reshoring manufacturing, you bring your production process closer to home—and closer to your consumers. You can keep an eye on production, rather than trusting another team in another facility half a world away, to uphold your standards. If you have a problem with a product manufactured in an offshore facility, you may not realize it for months. By that time, you probably have another shipment on the way and another order nearing completion in the factory. That’s wasted time, wasted materials, and wasted money. With a local supplier, issues can be addressed more effectively due to proximity.  

Decrease Unemployment

Unemployment skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Businesses shut down and many former employees had no other options. Reshoring manufacturing opens up a variety of skilled jobs right here at home, creating a positive butterfly effect that enhances the economy by strengthening households and entire communities. Supply chains are continuing to face disruptions, which is encouraging more companies to shorten their supply chains and keep their operations close to home—opening up more jobs for U.S. workers. 

Shorter Lead Times

The Advantages of Reshoring

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Products created overseas have to be transported from the facility, over the ocean, through a U.S. port for inspection and approval, and to the customer via trucks and planes. It’s a process that takes time even when it all goes smoothly: with even one disruption or mistake, the entire chain is slowed. 

If you manufacture that same product in the United States, you’ve eliminated an enormous part of the process. There’s no coordinating the transport of the products from the factory to the boat, no overseas shipping, no U.S. customs. You simply transport your finished product from your facility to the retail store or directly to the customer. You save time and money while reducing your carbon footprint and enabling yourself to fulfill orders more quickly. 

Reshoring has been trending for years, but the pandemic highlighted the need to bring manufacturing back to the United States. While offshoring can sometimes be a way for companies to save money on labor and materials costs, those savings, in general, no longer make up for the inconvenience and expense of the communications challenges, shipping, and the risk of delay and disruption.

Furthermore, consumers are becoming more aware of the environmental costs of overseas shipping, the poor working conditions in many overseas factories and the opportunities companies have to provide jobs within their communities. Demand for American-made products will continue to grow. 

Working with Hogge Precision

Located in South Carolina, Hogge Precision manufactures high-quality custom parts for a number of industries, including aerospace, automotive, construction, defense,  plumbing, medical, and more. Our extensive capabilities are housed in a 42,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, and we operate under an ISO 9001:2015 QMS registered system to ensure we meet or exceed your expectations. Contact us to learn more about our capabilities, skilled craftsmen, , and friendly, attentive customer service, or request a quote for your project.