How lights out manufacturing improves with Oemeta’s high-performance lubricants.

“Lights-out” or “dark factory” machining is the next step for greater productivity and profitability in UK manufacturing. With the growing reliability and cost-effectiveness of both robot loading and monitoring systems, coupled with a limited labour market, more companies are looking at their own potential to carry out lights-out machining.

In order to make lights-out a success, it is critical that all the machinery, tooling, peripherals, and programming are optimised and able to work flawlessly together, along with additional considerations in place for when machining is left to run unsupervised. 

As a leading supplier of coolants and cutting fluids, and with a customer base already capitalising on unsupervised machining, Oemeta UK shares some insights on how these demands impact coolant selection:

Lights-out machining does differ from everyday machining and there are specific things to take into consideration when selecting the right cutting fluid. Managing Director at Oemeta UK, David Woodford, makes the point that “it’s not how quickly you can make a part, it’s what level of throughput you can maintain. Clearly, tooling lifetime and tolerance maintenance are key to any limitations, and it’s here where very high lubrication performance can make a game-changing difference”. 

“Add to this the fact that lights out machining is often carried out on longer-running and repeating batch-work, and the significant gains of using an Oemeta cutting fluid become very clear, early on, with many companies reporting tool life increases between 100 % and 300 %, allowing significantly longer lights out running time”, states David.

In addition, a lights-out machining process can subject components to extended times of being immersed in cutting fluids, which can be up to 72 hours of exposure, and beyond. This makes it vital that the fluids do not stain or tarnish components, making them unusable. 

Further considerations include health and safety factors. If processes are left to run unsupervised it is critical that cutting fluids have optimum safety features – the main one being a high flashpoint. This is something that Oemeta UK will always consider, as no one wants the fear of a fire on site.

In order to support companies with harmonising their lights-out process, Oemeta UK Ltd has optimised their very successful lubricant benchmarking method. This unintrusive process professionally analyses a sample of fresh lubricant and turns its properties into visible data. The outcome is shared with the user alongside a comparison with an alternative product, which highlights all the achievable improvement values. 

According to Oemeta UK’s MD, “the results speak for themselves with over 95 % of companies that benchmark going on to trial an Oemeta product, and subsequently seeing the savings and improvements. These customers then continue to use Oemeta’s products and further benefit from the additional support services”.

“As coolants and cutting oils are highly engineered products, improvements in any given area are made by understanding and adjusting the volume and quality of the raw materials. It is these quantities that govern any particular required performance value in the cutting fluid or oil”, says David. 

The Oemeta benchmarking process that analyses both coolants and cutting oils is completely free to any potential end user. It’s Oemeta’s philosophy to invest in its customers before they invest in a partnership with Oemeta. For more information on how to find the best cutting fluid for your lights-out operation, get in touch.

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Oemeta lights-out machining
Oemeta Key Visual: Lights Out