Suppliers Help Labs Meet the New Service Mandate

By


Kurt Atchison
President
Schneider Optical Machines


“The Amazon effect has been growing rapidly in the optical lab industry. As we’ve modernized equipment and processes, the demands grow, not only for quality but also speed and transparency. We’ve enabled a more demanding consumer by providing them faster turnaround of very sophisticated lens products. This overall improvement and modernization has helped us grow the industry.

Schneider’s Modulo system pioneered this Industry 4.0 idea for labs five years ago. In 2018, we not only expanded the Modulo system and capability through its cognitive machine processes, but we also introduced the fastest production machines ever for the industry. Like the Amazon benchmark, this combined machine capability and total data and system control creates a radically consistent and reliable result. The modern Modulo lab empowers opticians to sell premium lens products with confidence.

The modern lab difference versus historical methods is complete technology integration along with vast amounts of data and control. Management knows so much more information in real-time than ever before. These metrics have always been there in some form “after the fact,” but today more labs can tell you all the critical performance measurements nearly minute by minute. Schneider’s Modulo system was created to drive this real-time performance maximization. Responsible production personnel are always on top of the performance. From a single Rx job and where it stands to a complete overview of exactly what’s going on at the moment, risks and issues are identified.

Adding to this predictive maintenance and upkeep, labs can make promises and meet the demands of the new service expectations. The system takes care of every special job requirement, even automatically prioritizing rush jobs. With the intelligent system in complete control, we eliminate the inconsistencies of constant human intervention. Even predictive and reactive maintenance are now controlled through the Modulo system.

With millions of daily orders around the globe, Amazon seems to have seamless, total control of all its process steps. Schneider’s Modulo process offers today’s modern lab that same kind of sophistication.”


Andy Huthoefer
Head of Marketing and Global Aftermarket Operations
Satisloh


“Providing our customers with solutions that allow them to meet their customers’ demand for speed is a major focus for Satisloh. Our two approaches to enabling fast service are helping large, central labs to speed up their throughput times with innovative technologies and providing high quality manufacturing solutions for small, decentralized labs that are close to the consumer.

For larger, central labs, many factors contribute to getting jobs through the lab faster. It all starts with ART alloy free blocking technology that is not only good for the environment but also saves time by eliminating cool down periods. Fast and reliable equipment, like the VFT-orbit 2 generator or the Multi-FLEX polishing system, process jobs at unprecedented speed. Intelligent automation plays a major as well. It’s critical that bottlenecks are avoided and that jobs are sent to machines that are actually available to process them. The best way to ensure an efficient production flow is by using a Manufacturing Execution System (MES). Satisloh’s MES-360 captures all machine and process data in the lab in real time. It routes jobs dynamically based on machine availability, yield and job specific data. This means maximum utilization of available equipment, fastest throughput and delivery times and best quality.

The slowest process in most labs is AR coating, which usually adds a day and often more. Our new Express-AR process cuts the time in the coating room down to 60 to 90 minutes, a huge advantage when fast service is of the essence. This is achieved by combining front side AR pre-coated blanks (only the back side has to be coated in the lab) with automated UV spin coating, an innovative fast degassing process, robots for automated sectoring and de-sectoring, and fast AR equipment.

Small decentralized labs, on the other hand, achieve fast service by being close to the eyecare professional (or even in the store) therefore reducing or eliminating the time needed to ship the completed job. Key for this segment is equipment that presents a low enough investment to allow generating profits at lower volumes while at the same time producing the same top quality and features that central labs can offer. Satisloh has developed a full line of equipment for this segment with the VFT-macro generator as its centerpiece, which is compact and affordable yet uses the same cutting- edge fast tool turning technology as Satisloh’s flagship generators.” n