"Lights-out" manufacturing is the idea of having a factory that is fully operated by machines without the need of humans on-site. Technology is advancing in such a way that the ability to have this type of approach is becoming more available. So why is it that almost every industrial automation conference is still devoted more to improving the operator's interaction with the automation systems than the evolution of automation systems that can eliminate the operator? Automation.com Editor Bill Lydon believes its topics such as this, as well as how to train new operators, human factors engineering, information presentation, sophisticated training simulators, alarm management and ergonomics that are holding back industry professionals from making real progress. This article takes an in-depth look at the "lights-out" manufacturing approach, goals for automation, technology advancements and more.