LMS Puts Lab Managers in Control

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All labs, no matter how big or small, depend on a Lab Management System (LMS). LMS software enables managers to control Rx processing, accounts receivable, inventory management, order tracking and sorting, production and interface with laboratory equipment.

VM asked the heads of two leading LMS companies, Robert Shanbaum, president of Ocuco, and Gordon Keane, founder and president of DVI (Digital Vision Inc.), to comment on how LMS systems are advancing, and how these advances have helped labs operate more efficiently and, in turn, deliver better service to their customers.


Robert Shanbaum
President
Ocuco


“Ten years ago, LMS providers were still struggling to integrate their software with Lens Design Systems (LDS) and freeform manufacturing equipment. Fortunately, The Vision Council’s Data Communication Standard was extended to cover the communications needed for freeform very early in the period of adoption of the new technology. Even so, a lot of unanswered questions arose, mostly related to the new division of labor between the LMS and LDS. In freeform production, some of the functions traditionally performed by the LMS are more appropriately performed by the LDS. Although most of these issues have been settled, the occasional novelty still comes along.

Freeform has brought two rather different kinds of benefits. First, there is the potential for cost reduction, which is diminished to some extent by the relatively high cost of the production equipment. Second, it offers a completely new capability to better individualize lenses to customers’ requirements.

Within the past five years, we’ve seen more outsourcing of orders to foreign labs, especially Asian, labs. We’ve had to substantially enhance our ability to outsource orders to different labs based on an ever expanding array of criteria.

Also, although the consolidation of labs has slowed down, it continues. As a result, we’re inventing better ways to manage not just one lab, but an entire estate of labs.

On the LMS side, we are expanding our ability to track problem jobs back through their production paths. Also, there are still significant opportunities within our standards efforts to better promote the integrations of MES systems (Manufacturing Execution Systems) with LMS systems, as well as across disparate manufacturers’ MES systems. Most MES systems are presently provided by machine manufacturers, and they do not communicate with each other or with LMS systems (other than the vendor’s own, if one exists).”


Gordon Keane
Founder and President
DVI


“For DVI there are three important areas:

Integration and understanding of DS (Digitally Surfaced) lens designs.
In many cases, an order for a digital design occurs remotely to the actual manufacturing. However, the special requirements of these orders (fitting values, coating compatibility, base curve limitations, etc.) as well as cosmetics need to be incorporated from the beginning so the ordering party (lab or ECP) can be sure that the finished product will meet their expectations.

Stronger integration of electronically transmitted Rxs from ECPs and other labs.
The volume of electronically transmitted orders from POS systems and other non-DVI sources has increased for us significantly. Success in this area involves working with externally created orders that may not be carefully edited for completeness and “make-ability.” So we continue to reach out and work with these sources to improve the first-time success for order transmission with error free processing.

Real time customer service information for lab customer service reps and the ECP.
An important part of this process is to make lab status information (breakages, delays, expected delivery time) available from our Enterprise web site. This is a large area of development for us and serves our customers by enhancing communication with their customers. A piece of this function that is not often discussed is passing inspection values (compensated prescriptions) from subcontracting labs back for remotely surfaced orders.

Many of our customers with multiple labs now offer consolidated customer service with access to our Enterprise web service.”