The value of Lights-Out Manufacturing

More customers demand better parts to be available precisely when they need them—and at the lowest possible price.

This demand is faced with tension as the cost of materials, utilities, labor and employee benefits continue to spiral upward.


The big picture objective of lights out is to reduce labor costs, but there are other potential savings as well.

First, planning long, overnight runs for the overnight shift can make a shop’s fully manned machine time more flexible. The idea is to do more short runs that require intervention for change-overs, work monitoring of more complicated parts, and the ability to respond to a customer’s urgent order can be accomplished during the day shift.

Also, machine operators can use their time more efficiently by setting up for overnight production, while daytime runs are in progress.

Last, power companies often charge less for energy used during off hours (overnight), so it may cost less to operate machinery during lights-out production.

author | schalk van niekerk


A brief look at the CNC Machining industry

Studies show that more than 70% of Americans view manufacturing as the most important industry for a strong economy and national defense.

With 6 decades of off-shoring jobs overseas, America was still regarded as the global manufacturing leader in the late 20th century, but experienced a dramatic decline in the need for machinists over time.

The skills gap

Only 30% of parents encourage their children to enter manufacturing and only 17% of people view manufacturing as a top career choice.

67% reports a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers & 57% anticipate the shortage to grow worse in the next three to five years.

It’s different now

A need is growing rapidly for machinists with an advanced understanding of computer technology, an eye for detail and a love of working with their hands.

In recent years, digitalization of manufacturing has converged and is maturing.  CAD software, CNC machine tools and advanced automation technologies allow for producing complex parts and tooling at significantly reduced costs with impressive efficiencies.

We at Midwest Turned Products embrace the challenge and are pushing forward in offering intern opportunities for aspiring machinists and looking for ways to contribute to education programs in our local communities.


Let's get going so we can put the “Made in USA” label back on our products!


author | schalk van niekerk