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 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
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.
Excellent article with great information on your “Lights Out” program at Hogge Precision. I’ve witnessed the hard work and progress throughout the years with zero negative impact on the part quality. (maybe even improved!)
Something else to add is the Positive Sustainability Impact of going “Lights Out”, less energy consumption.