“Lights Out Manufacturing” is a method of industrial production characterized by complete automation. This end-to-end automation enables production without direct human intervention at the production site.
In German, the term “Fabrikation im Dunkeln” is sometimes used synonymously. In French, the term “Fabrication dans le noir” has become common. A production site that follows this production approach is called a “Dark Factory”.
The English term “Lights Out Manufacturing” is derived from the idea that production processes designed in this way could just as well take place in the dark, since no human beings need to be present at the place of actual manufacture who are dependent on adequate lighting for their work. The term “Lights Out Manufacturing” is often used metaphorically. Production in absolute darkness is only possible if the robots used function without optical sensors and no visual inspection by humans is carried out.
At present, individual tasks often require human intervention even in largely automated production processes, for example for inspection and maintenance, so that fully automated production then only takes place temporarily. Metaphorically speaking, the light has to be switched on at least occasionally.
“Lights Out Manufacturing” is an approach to automated production in the age of “Industry 4.0”. Within the framework of digital transformation, an expansion of “lights out manufacturing” into “dark factories” can be assumed due to the progressive digitalization of technical production systems.