Lights Out Injection Molding offers companies the opportunity to be more competitive with pricing and has the potential to ensure better quality products for customers, however it’s not as simple as buying expensive robots and flipping the switch. Injection Molders need to have the right systems and processes in place to be successful at Lights Out Injection Molding.
- Highly Skilled Employees: Lights out Injection Molding requires a high degree of automation and advanced technology. This drives an emphasis on having highly skilled employees capable of developing, integrating, monitoring and maintaining expensive technical equipment.
- Scientific Molding: Running an injection molding machine overnight with no one present adds risk to the company if they produce poor quality product. With no employees in the building to answer machine alarms, and correct issues, the process needs to be developed robustly enough to not make bad parts or scrap rates can be high. This places an emphasis on the APQP process, and injection molders need to have robust systems in place to ensure high quality molds are being built and robust production processes are being developed.
- Real Time Machine Monitoring: With an injection molding machine being left unattended, overnight, being able to be notified if a machine goes down or is running high scrap is paramount to the success of a Lights Out Injection Molder. In the realm of high-volume injection molding, every second counts, and time is money for the supplier and the customer.
- Robotic Part Detection: Gone are the days running with an under-press conveyor. Running unattended you want to have confirmation that all parts were successfully removed from the mold to eliminate downtime for closing up on parts. The goal in designing a work cell to run lights out, is removing opportunities for failure.
- Robust Predictive and Preventative Maintenance Systems: Since no one will be on site to address unplanned equipment malfunctions, not only does the equipment need to be reliable and designed for lights out injection molding, but you need to have systems in place to ensure it stays that way. Anyone can buy expensive equipment but not everyone knows how to implement and use it. Establishing predictive and preventative maintenance routines is of the utmost importance when running a lights out injection molding operation.
Becoming a Lights Out Operation is not as simple as buying the equipment and flipping the switch, you need technological and engineering expertise to execute, and although all these topics could be considered necessary for all injection molders, they become even more important for Lights Out Injection Molders because the issues that can arise are intensified by the length of time the issue could persist.
Author: Adam Smith, President of Millennium Plastics.
Millennium Plastics is a high-volume injection molding company that specializes in tight tolerance molding. Utilizing the latest technologies and engineering expertise, Millennium Plastics provides best-in-class quality.
To learn more about how Millennium Plastics has planned for success in Light Out Injection Molding, visit us at www.millennium-plastics.com