Canadian Manufacturing

How the lights-out setting is redefining manufacturing

Automating the manufacturing process can offer substantial savings on labor costs, increase productivity and help companies achieve their sustainability goals

July 26, 2021  by CM Staff

Frost & Sullivan Reveals How the Lights-Out Setting is Redefining Manufacturing

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Frost & Sullivan’s recent analysis on lights-out manufacturing finds that the rapidly falling price of robots and continually increasing labor costs will accelerate manufacturers’ shift toward a lights-out setting. The manufacturing process is fully automated in a lights-out environment, with minimal human intervention required to run day-to-day operations. Companies have an opportunity to optimize their human capital and potentially save up to 20% of labor costs and generate a 30% increase in productivity output by switching to a lights-out operations model.

In addition, they can achieve their sustainability and zero-carbon emission goals by saving energy during production hours. Automotive, general manufacturing, electronics and electrical components, and logistics and warehousing are four major industries expected to make rapid advancements toward a fully automated lights-out environment in the short term.

“Globally, the COVID-19 outbreak has further expedited the shift to automated lights-out manufacturing processes. This enables companies to expand their production capacity beyond traditional shift hours and take on additional work orders to ramp up productivity to pre-COVID-19 levels,” said Vinay Venkatesan, Program Manager, TechVision at Frost & Sullivan in a statement. “Artificial intelligence (AI) will be the most critical tool enabling the lights-out toolkit. It will fuel several key technologies such as robotics, cybersecurity, digital twins, generative design, cloud computing, 5G, and 3D printing, all of which will play a key role in achieving lights-out operations.”

Venkatesan added: “Additionally, the manufacturing industry will increasingly rely upon an ecosystem of technology experts, system integrators, and service enablers to achieve agility and customization. In fact, more than 45% of manufacturing applications are expected to implement robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) by 2030.”

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With a long-term vision, a digital-first approach, and a highly skilled human workforce, a lights-out manufacturing process can unlock several opportunities, including:

  • Rise of micro-factories: The shift toward decentralized structures and automated manufacturing processes will drive the demand for microfactories that require a smaller workforce and less space, energy and materials.
  • Grid manufacturing: Cyber-physical systems and computational advancements driving intelligent automation will allow companies to achieve mass customization by adopting operational customization as a business strategy.
  • Manufacturing-to-zero-as-a-service: Enabling manufacturing optimization with a zero-based value proposition requires an integrated approach that leverages all core “zero” technologies.
  • Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform: Ensuring a seamless transfer of information among interconnected stakeholders is important to build a collectively intelligent IIoT platform.