In our industries, lights play several important roles. Primarily, industries tend to use lights for two fundamental purposes—illumination and indication. Smart visual factories use lighting intelligently. They carefully differentiate between using it for illuminating devices and for indicating them.
Fixtures for illumination light up a space in the industry, improving productivity, worker ergonomics, and enhancing safety. For instance, in huge storerooms, low bay lights illuminate areas blocked by structures shielding ceiling or high bay lights. Another example is the use of task lights that offer bright and focused light required to perform finer tasks at workstations, such as inspection or assembly. Furthermore, operators can visually monitor machine processes and examine interiors of enclosures using heavy-duty machine lights.
On the other hand, the industrial use of indication devices provides visual status updates. For instance, an indicator light at a station lets a manager know he or she is needed there. A machine alerts an operator with an indicator light regarding material refilling or a jam. Indication devices often use stack or tower lights, with each segment indicating a different status when it lights up. A change of colors and/or a flash in domed indicator lights often indicates a change in status.
So far, industries had managed to keep the two categories distinct. However, with the advent of LED lights, manufacturers are trying to combine illumination with indication and merging them into a single flexible device. For instance, strip lights for illumination purposes so far, were using only white light. Now they use RGB LED lights that normally give off a white color, but they can also modify the lights to show different statuses by giving off multiple colors. The device therefore, is suitable for ambient or task lighting with white light, but can also indicate status with colored light.
Industries are now using multicolored LED strips in the sightline of operators to provide them with unambiguous status indication, while using the same in tower lights to offer the supervisors an indication at a glance.
By combining illumination with indication, machine builders not only enhance the visual appeal of their machine, and improve its functionality, but the sleek and colorful lights also offer tangible benefits to their customers. Advantages include faster response to status change promotion, improved ergonomics and limited waste movements, ensuring the addressing of critical status updates in a timely fashion, and reducing the risk of expensive accidents and mistakes.
The combination of illumination and indication devices is convenient for not only OEMs but their customers as well. As the combined devices fit easily into the framework of the machine, which protects them, they are effective in their function. Retrofitting an existing machine with a combined indication and illumination device is easy, as only a single device needs setting up, and fitting only a few wires achieves both the functions. The industry is using such combined devices in applications involving machine lighting, workstations, intersections shared by foot traffic and mobile equipment, automatic gates, overhead doors, and for collaborative robots.
The combined indication and illumination devices are providing both OEMs and end users with exciting new possibilities. Although started as a trend, the combined devices are proving their worth in industrial applications.