Lights-out manufacturing is a production system with no human workers, to eliminate labor costs.
Lights out manufacturing grew in popularity in the U.S. when General Motors in 1982 implemented humans "hands-off" manufacturing in order to "replace risk-averse bureaucracy with automation and robots". However, the factory never reached full "lights out" status
In the absence of process automation, plant operators have to physically monitor performance values and the quality of outputs to determine the best settings on which to run the production equipment. Maintenance is carried out at set intervals. This generally results in operational inefficiency and unsafe operating conditions. Process automation simplifies this with the help of sensors at thousands of spots around the plant that collect data on temperatures, pressures, flows and so on. The information is stored and analyzed on a computer and the entire plant and each piece of production equipment can be monitored on a large screen in a control room. Plant operating settings are then automatically adjusted to achieve the optimum production. Plant operators can manually override the process automation systems when necessary.
- Increased throughput or productivity.
- Improved quality or increased predictability of quality.
- Increased consistency of output.
- Improved robustness (consistency), of processes or product.
- Reduced direct human labor costs and expenses.
- Installation in operations reduces cycle time.
- Can complete tasks where a high degree of accuracy is required.
- Frees up workers to take on other roles.