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Lights-Out Machining

3 Mindset Changes for Lights-Out CNC Machining

Peter Zelinski | Modern Machine Shop

Expanding capacity into the unattended hours calls for counterintuitive new ways of thinking about the work.

For many machine shops today, the most promising avenue of potential expansion is not a new market or an addition to their facilities, but instead the untapped, unstaffed nighttime hours that could be captured for automated, “lights-out” production.

During the day, the hours are full. The limits shops face is finding the skilled workers to do the work. This article by Modern Machine Shop’s Editor-in-Chief Peter Zelinski focuses on three mindset changes shops must make to be successful at lights-out machining. First, a shop should consider running simple parts on high-end machines. Second, a shop must be okay with longer cycle times. The final mindset change is to recognize that the shop’s most profitable hours are when nobody is there.

Video: How to Succeed at Lights-Out Machining — Findings from Top Shops Data

Peter Zelinski | Modern Machine Shop

Differences in machine shops’ profit margins suggest the value of improvement methodology, unattended machining and machine tool monitoring, as well as the effective combination of all three of these.

The success machine shops increasingly are having today with lights-out machining is the result of various advances that have come together: more systemized processes plus more accessible automation technology plus machine tool monitoring.


The Human Factor

Automation can be a hot-button topic. Some believe it is taking away jobs; others believe it is making jobs better for skilled workers. One thing is undeniable: Automation is transforming human jobs.

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