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SIGNAL TOWERS: More Important to Your Business Than You Think

Image courtesy of PATLITE.

Signaling technology is an unsung hero in factory settings.

By: Marck Parra, Contributor

Stack lights – we’ve all seen them. They are the bright, LED light towers commonly encountered everywhere in the manufacturing and industrial sectors, often in various multicolored configurations. They serve a wide range of applications and are typically installed on top of machines, systems and on walls. In some instances, these towers are also suitable for indoor and outdoor use.

You might recognize their appearance, but do you know just how vital stack lights are for the overall well-being of a workplace? Buckle up because this might surprise you – in a good way! Even if you’re already familiar with their significance, this will serve as a valuable refresher, reinforcing the role that stack lights play in various daily operations.

Meet the Stack Light

So, what exactly is a “stack light?” For starters, stack lights are commonly known by various names: signal towers, light towers, andon lights, indicators, tower lights and many others. Regardless of the terminology used, they play a crucial role in numerous factory setups and are indispensable for ensuring the safety and security of personnel in workplace environments.

In greater detail, stack lights are signaling devices that convey critical information and offer valuable status alerts to workers regarding the equipment they support. Their sleek designs make visual cues readily apparent and easy to identify, enabling any worker, regardless of position, to quickly determine the status of the device to which they are attached.

They also help reduce downtime and improve productivity across the factory floor because of their error-alerting properties. In many ways, the stack light is the unsung hero of many factory settings, always present when needed most.

Applications and Usages

Now, let’s look at an application example to set the groundwork for the functionality of a stack light.

In the most basic of application examples, a stack light indicates a machine is down by illuminating its red LED light module(s) in its display to show an error in the system. In this example, the red status alert on the stack light serves as a clear visual signal to workers, instructing them not to approach a machine or station until the relevant issue has been resolved. Green means go and red means stop. Simple, right?

Traditionally, the purpose of stack lights was relatively straightforward: they offered basic green and red indication to aid in various processes, but this has since been changed and expanded upon. The beauty of modern-day stack lights lies in their modularity and plethora of advanced features. To start, if your configuration requires colors beyond the standard red and green, many manufacturers, such as PATLITE, provide options for yellow, blue and clear LED color modules, among others. This allows you to elevate your factory signaling to the next level and customize it according to the needs of your unique application.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Cutting-Edge Solutions

The number of available LED modules in present-day stack lights is not the only aspect that has improved; they also come in numerous shapes and sizes, various hybrid models and state-of-the-art network builds designed for modern, technologically-advanced facilities.

Let’s take a look at some of these:

Dual Reliability: Modern stack lights provide indication beyond visual signals, including auditory alerts. In fact, dual visual and audible capabilities have become a standard feature in most stack lights, further enhancing workplace assistance. These hybrid elements add an additional layer of status indication, effectively alerting workers with loud buzzers and vibrant lights, often simultaneously.

Network Capabilities: Power over ethernet (PoE), USB, and IO-Link are just a few of the network options available in today’s stack lights. These options offer the advantages of real-time data exchange, allowing for rapid and precise adjustments to optimize production output while minimizing downtime. From affordable network options to more complex capabilities, stack lights offer a myriad of network options regardless of budget and sophistication of facility.

Next-generation Signaling: Gone are the days of standard red, yellow, green (RYG) signaling, as stack lights now offer high-tech signaling, including tank level and temperature visualization. Tank level and temperature visualization easily display material replenishment timing and machine status changes. The Takt time process is also available and determines the rhythm for production and ensures products are made at a rate that aligns with demand. Lastly, many smart stack lights offer multiple signaling tiers with multi-color segments spanning a broad spectrum of colors.

Advanced Audio Playback: Users can enjoy MP3 playback for customized alerts and Text-to-speech (TTS) technology provides audible notifications, making it easier to understand critical messages. Additionally, these stack lights offer email alerts and more, ensuring that you stay informed about system statuses and events in real-time. These versatile features empower businesses to customize their notifications, improving communication efficiency and responsiveness.

All of these advanced and smart properties translate to better, more efficient safety protocols that also translate to budget-saving measures. Let’s briefly discuss money and budget, as stack lights are significant cost-saving tools for companies worldwide.

Stack lights enhance safety, streamline operations and ensure efficient communication throughout the workplace. Shown, left to right: LR6-USBK, NHV and LB6-IL. Image courtesy of PATLITE.

Here Comes The Money

Specifically, stack lights help companies save money in several different ways, including:

  • Compliance Fines: Minimizing compliance fines through adherence to stringent regulations.
  • Maintenance Costs: Lowering maintenance costs due to the robust design of the products.
  • Reliability: Offering unparalleled reliability with products boasting extended lifespans

Furthermore, stack lights promote a safer working environment, reducing the potential costs associated with workplace accidents and injuries.

Implement Stack Lights Today

Overall, stack lights represent a fundamental component in modern industrial and manufacturing environments with indispensable error-detection qualities. These versatile devices are pivotal in enhancing workplace safety, streamlining operations and ensuring efficient communication throughout the workplace. With the ability to convey critical information through visual and auditory means, stack lights empower workers to make informed decisions swiftly, reducing downtime, preventing errors and ultimately contributing to increased productivity that can help a business with cost-saving measures.

As technology continues to progress, the significance of stack lights remains unchanged. WMHS

Marck Parra is a marketing coordinator for PATLITE USA. Since 1947, PATLITE has positioned itself as a global leader in visual and audible signaling with a strong commitment to innovate in the safety, security and industrial problem-solving sectors. Backed by years of industry experience and knowledge, PATLITE offers cutting-edge solutions to the process and automation industries worldwide through products that solve real-world dilemmas in the harshest and busiest of environments.

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