The lure of churning out parts overnight, with little or no labor cost, is understandably attractive to many manufacturers that are constantly looking for ways to cut down on expenses. Many manufacturing companies also understand that nothing comes easy and good planning for potential disruptions ahead is essential.
4 considerations before jumping into lights out manufacturing
- Reliable equipment – You must perform a thorough inspection of every piece of equipment that will be used to produce parts overnight. Inspect all malfunctions, needed tools, peripherals and automated equipment. Everything must work flawlessly together while you’re away.
- Will the tools stand up to the production run? – Tools must withstand continuous operation with the appropriate power. Machinery also needs a capable control system that can monitor itself and either auto-correct or communicate issues.
- Material loading and unloading – Products rolling off the line during your lights off manufacturing operation need to go somewhere once they’re finished. So, plan carefully for feeding materials and offloading the finished products. You will also need to consider how sturdy the finished parts will be and how well you can rely on the mechanisms moving them around.
- Remote monitoring – No machine performs flawlessly. At some point, you’ll need a person to monitor what’s happening. Even if the machine never has a breakdown, the ability of an employee to monitor from a remote location is valuable. Minor disruptions can be fixed and the system can be shut down to prevent a big mess.
Before you dive into lights out manufacturing, gather input from everyone (and everything) involved in the production and make a well thought-out plan. Then test your plan before committing to an operation. Another solid option might be making a simple piece for a larger part. Now, you’re gaining an advantage on labor costs while still overseeing the final assembly.
The experts at PDS can help you think through all the aspects of manufacturing, design and prototyping. Download a brochure and learn how we make efficiencies with precision happen for your next project.