Stackable light, also known as tower light, tower lamp, andon light, indicator light, industrial signal light, etc., is equipment that has its use in industrial and manufacturing units. The purpose of installing these lights is to provide audible and visual indications regarding a machine’s status. The aim of the indicators is that they should reach technicians, machine operators, factory personnel, and production managers.
What do you mean by stackable lights?
You can consider stack lights as a kind of andon. This is a system in the manufacturing industry that plays an important role in identifying errors as they take place.
When it comes to industrial automation, industrial manufacturing, and process control, a stackable light is an important component for sure. These lights are available in different dimensions and shapes. You can see the columnar structure most commonly in these lights, and elliptical and round are two of the most common shapes of these lights.
In the columnar structure of the lights, there are color-coded indicator segments. These segments are strategically placed one on top of another in a ‘stacked’ position, hence the name. Generally, in a tower light, there is a maximum of five different colored segments. Each segment defines different conditions on the process running in the machine.
The most common colors of the segments in a tower lamp are red, yellow, green, blue, and white, and they are independently actuated. The illumination of these colors is either off, flashing, or continuously solid.
You can use stack lights in identical applications like strobes/beacon lights. The information which they display, however, incorporates more process/machine conditions. As the illumination source, stack lights mostly use xenon-type, LED, or incandescent strobes.
As stack lights are passive devices, you can control them directly from various sources like distributed control systems, programmable logic controllers, or PC control systems. It is also possible to hardware the lights to various machine controls like sensors, timers, and latching relays.
The internal circuitry of the stack light controls the feature of flashing. Other than this, logic controllers or timers can control the flashing externally.
What purpose do they fulfill in industrial automation?
The main aim of using stackable lights in industrial setups is to use them as a signal for indicating the process or status of a machine. Technicians and operators remain aware of the progress of the work in the machine. Along with tracking progress, the lights also indicate if there are any errors in the machine.
If you set the machine for increased productivity, the stack light acts as an indicator if the process is going steady. With the installation of stackable light, you can improve machine fault management seamlessly.
Usually, the system designer assigns the color-coding in the stackable light. Almost all stack lights use these common colors. Here are the colors and their indications:
- White – Related to productivity monitoring in general. These conditions are user-defined for a specific system.
- Blue – This indicates a request for external help. The operator may seek assistance from personnel for maintenance, raw materials, or schedule.
- Green – Indicating that the machine or process is running smoothly.
- Yellow – This indicates warning signs like over-pressure or over-temperature conditions.
- Read – This is a signal for failure conditions like machine fault or emergency stop.
In many places, along with the stack light, there is an alarm buzzer, which is loud enough to be audible. In many large plants, operators add this alert system for additional cautiousness. However, operators use the alert buzzer in high-priority conditions only.
When used in large plants and manufacturing units, these tower lights offer excellent visibility at a high distance. Again, the same tower lamp is highly suitable for small machines and in small spaces where people have to work closely with machines. This means that these lights enable you to see in narrow, cramped spaces too. Another advantage of these lights is that you can use them in extremely harsh conditions.
Stackable lights are an integral part of industrial automation. Available in myriad ranges, these tower lights come in pre-assembled and ‘self-assemble’ variants. While purchasing a tower lamp, ensure that you check certain factors like efficiency, easy installation, and reliability. Many companies provide additional accessories with these lights, like extension poles, wall brackets, etc., for ease of installation.