What is “Lights Out” Machining?

Precision machining allows for the precise and efficient production of even the most intricate parts and components. “Lights out” machining is a way that precision machining companies can increase productivity and efficiency even further. Lights out machining is a technique used by some manufacturers and machining companies that can offer a number of benefits if done successfully. Here we look at what ‘lights out’ machining is as well as how it can affect the machining process and the final product.

WHAT DOES “LIGHTS OUT” MACHINING MEAN?

Lights out machining is a technique or methodology used by precision machining companies and other manufacturers. It refers to automated processes and machinery functions that require minimal human input to operate. Because the automated processes don’t need human oversight or control, they continue outside of business hours and even overnight; hence the term “lights out.” Even after the human workers and employees have gone home, the machines can keep working to produce a higher output.

HOW DOES “LIGHTS OUT” MACHINING WORK?

The technology to allow for lights out machining is increasingly accessible and available. The processes and machinery functions can be fully-automated, allowing for production to continue with no human presence whatsoever. In precision machining, a human input may be required to create designs and adjust settings on the machines. However, to produce multiple pieces of the same piece, constant operator attention is not needed so that precision machining can continue unattended outside of working hours.

Because specific precision machines can run without operator attention, typical machines that are capable of running lights out must have bar feeders or multiple pallets. Some models can run when normal company operations have shut down, and the lights would typically be off. Talk to your precision machining company about whether the pieces and components that you require can be machined lights out.

BENEFITS OF “LIGHTS OUT” MACHINING

Because lights-out machining allows production to continue even without any human operator attention, there are a number of advantages.

INCREASED MACHINE PRODUCTIVITY

Lights out machining mean that the machines can continue operating for more extended hours without human input, functioning 24 hours a day if necessary. This can significantly increase the productivity and output of the machines. While the number of machines onsite may be limited, keeping them running for longer can still ramp up productivity.

What is Lights Out Machining

Because labor costs don’t need to be paid to workers during lights out machining periods, the relative costs of production are reduced.

PRIORITIZATION OF JOBS

Where possible, the more extended running jobs for repetitive machining can be done during lights out hours. This frees up manned hours with workers on deck for shorter, more complex jobs that may require additional operator attention.

COST EFFECTIVE

This method reduces labor costs, which in turn makes it more cost effective for your project. Also, by saving no shipping costs, it allows us to compete in foreign markets.

COVERING LONGER RUNNING FINISH PASSES OR MACHINING PROCESSES

Lights out machining can help take care of longer running finish passes while machines are unmanned, saving manned hours for other jobs. This type of machining can also take care of the bulk of machining work, in the meanwhile leaving the critical tolerances to be handled by a human operator.

Lights out machining offer significant benefits to the machining provider that can also be passed on to the client. However, lights out machining are more than just leaving machines on overnight – it requires careful planning and organization. If you think that your job could be a fit for lights out machining, contact our team at Inverse Solutions today; we’re looking forward to helping you explore the benefits of lights out precision machining for your project.