Lights On or Lights Out, Shop Automation Shines
Dylan Welchman 10.20.2023
"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."
– Modern Machine Shop, May 2019
Let’s Talk Lights On!
Lights on automation refers to the dozens of machining tasks and processes that can be completed without human intervention during operating hours. Automated systems range from simple bar feeders and automatic pallet changers to gantry loaders, robotics, and flexible manufacturing systems. While lights out manufacturing is an excellent capability to have, lights on manufacturing helps pay the bills day-in and day-out, enabling shop owners to:
- Take on more work and realize better ROI
- Improve margins by lowering cost per piece
- Shorten lead times
- Optimize employee value
- Reduce scrap
The Robots vs. Humans Myth
"Despite large-scale deployment of robots, most manufacturers surveyed don’t see automation affecting their labour force.
When asked, 57 per cent said that robots are working alongside human workers in their facilities rather than displacing people from jobs. Almost one-quarter surveyed (22 per cent) use robots in specific sectors of their factories. Only one-fifth of manufacturing leaders surveyed see robots actually taking over jobs. Other organizations mirror these sentiments. The World Economic Forum estimated that robots will affect about 85 million jobs across various industries by the year 2025 but create 97 million new jobs in the process."
– Canadian Metalworking, June 16, 2023
Okuma Factory Automation Division
Okuma’s Factory Automation Division is designed to partner with machine shops to help them uncover hidden potential and develop automation solutions. It brings together automation OEMs like Edge Technologies, Bucci Industries, Fastems, FANUC, and Gosiger Automation with the customer and their distributor to develop and integrate the right automated solutions for any specific job.
These solutions range from introductory automation, such as bar feeders and parts catchers, to APCs, full FMS solutions, and robotic cells. Okuma machine tools work with a wide variety of automation solutions to make automation successful in whatever way it works for your shop.
Okuma’s new division will also assist machine shops in integrating its own array of automation solutions, including both APCs and robots. The launch of this new division coincides with the reignited Partners in Technology program, a fully equipped facility that serves as both an innovation showcase and technology proving ground for Okuma and its 45+ elite partners. Here, customers can meet with Okuma partners, distributors, and Okuma engineers to select and customize automation for their Okuma machine tools.