As lens processing, the main function of prescription labs, grows more sophisticated, labs rely increasingly on their technology partners for support, guidance and the new machinery, systems and software that lets them provide the top-notch service to remain competitive.

We asked suppliers of lens processing equipment and lab management systems how their company’s technology improves the ability of optical labs to service their retail and ECP accounts. Their responses provided a window into how these companies play a pivotal role in enabling labs to perform at the peak of their abilities when meeting the demands of their customers.

Alex Incera, President, Coburn Technologies
“Coburn Technologies was on the forefront of one-hour service. It was our products and technology that enabled that industry trend many years ago. That focus continues today with many of our products, including our new Velocity 2D Coating platform which fully automates the hard coating process, automatically selects one of two on-board coatings to apply, and completes the entire hard coating process in a matter of minutes, at a continuous rate of 125 lenses per hour.”

Gordon Keane, Founder and President, Digital Vision, Inc (DVI)
“In April, job intake among our lab customers declined by more than 80 percent as the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown took effect. Beginning in late May, orders began to increase steadily until some of our customers reported they were ‘busier than ever.’ As they deal with the recent surge in volume, lab production and customer service are confronting additional challenges COVID-19 has brought on. On top of this, labs are experiencing increased job subcontracting—sending and receiving work from other labs—which can disrupt customer service, especially if these are new ‘electronic’ relationships. DVI remains focused on supporting our customers in processing larger-than-expected volumes while they continue to cope with personnel changes, problems within supply chains, and rapid rises in subcontracting. These are key areas of the DVI software palette, and we are committed to assisting customers in managing the pressures brought on by the coronavirus.”

John Vulich, Optical Application Specialist, Luneau Technology USA
“Our customers are always looking for ways to reduce the turnaround time while increasing the volume output. In a marketplace where timeliness and quality are essential, we offer a range of finishing solutions enabling labs to reduce the rate of return and increase revenue while improving overall customer satisfaction. Our Briot Attitude GTS is ideal for a high-volume setup because it provides superior accuracy and reliability compared to conventional tracing systems. The same technology is available in remote tracing systems such as the Briot Scan 8 and Briot Evolution GT Remote Tracer—providing consistent results regardless of where the frame or demonstration lens is traced.”

Stefano Sonzogni, President, Mei Systems
“Our customers tell us that anything that impedes the regular flow of edging is a huge problem for them. Thus, our continuous effort is aimed at improving the performance and reliability of our machines in order to avoid interruption of the operation of our edgers.”

Jeff Grumbling, President, OptoTech
“With more than 30 years in the precision optics industry, OptoTech is keenly focused on producing the best possible quality lens. Our machines always provide a superior quality lens surface and markings. Our surfacing capabilities allow for extreme flexibility in power range and material. Our Lab IQ system allows for total lab efficiency by giving you full visibility to each machine, its current status, its productivity level and any needs for maintenance. This same system allows you to monitor each and every job as it travels through the lab and provides the opportunity to quickly locate and expedite a job tray when needed.”

Jonathan Martin, Director of Technical Services, Santinelli International
“Our equipment has always been seen as a perfect fit in the lab specialty cells, as well as regular production. As many labs move to a cell layout on their production floor, the specialty cells provide the high-end results for difficult jobs. Many labs use our ME-1200 edger to produce these difficult jobs at the highest of quality. With the recent addition of our LEXCE Trend8 edger, labs are also now producing these same high-quality lenses on jobs with extreme prescriptions and high prism. These are some of the most difficult jobs for a lab to produce, but the LEXCE Trend8 does them with ease and consistently.”

Pete Lothes, President/CEO for the Global Satisloh Group
“’One week for delivery’ is a phrase most of us have forgotten. In 2020, we expect quality products delivered in days, often the same day. Fortunately, modern ophthalmic lens production technology makes it easier than ever to meet these expectations and that’s where we see labs, large and small, investing. It all starts with quality equipment, consumables, and processes. These not only produce top quality lenses, but also do it right the first time. High first-time yields or passes are critical for fast and consistent service levels and nothing slows a job down more than breaking a lens and having to redo it… Our Modern ART (alloy-free) blocking technology eliminates taping and de-taping process steps as well as cool-down time for even faster service.”

Kurt Atchison, President, Schneider Optical Machines North America
“Today’s modern lab thinks not only in terms of automated machines as single elements, but on the new focus—truly integrated, modern manufacturing. Not just machines but complete systems that are completely optimized by the technology provider for maximum output per square foot with lowest labor cost, fast response, and consistently high yields. There simply aren’t enough experienced human resources to put it all together, so systems like Modulo from Schneider does it all for the customer, guaranteed.”

Patrick Broe, Vice President, Sales, Lab Division, Ocuco
“The climate in today’s market has mandated an even greater set of customer service benefits. We have seen an increase in our shipping services as labs have been requested by eyecare professionals to directly send finished product to the consumer rather than returning to the clinic or practice for fitting. This was previously unheard of, and we see it growing as patients and our customers adapt to the ‘new normal.’ We have also seen labs proactively helping their customers by utilizing educational webinars designed to ensure eyecare businesses shift from brick-and-mortar to a clicks-and-bricks retail model. Among the features recently launched by Innovations was the Job Staging Module, an intuitive method to track multipart jobs effectively. Another Innovations module that improves lab service is Easy Post. This module integrates Innovations directly with the shipping carrier service.”