Optical Lab Products

MAR 2014

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OPINIONS ONE-TO-ONE 6 march 2014 totallyoptical.com A conversation between OLP's Carol Gilhawley and John Fried, president of A&R Optical Machinery Inc. JOHN We have the AutoRange series which includes the Au- toMapper, AutoInker, and Auto- Blocker. The AutoRange is a process-specifc automated system that has a small footprint but a high throughput. It's very fast and has three different systems, using a similar platform. CAROL DO YOUR CUSTOM- ERS WORK WITH OTHER PEOPLE'S PRODUCTS? JOHN Absolutely. We're a niche supplier, so many of our customers have other elements of the manu- facturing process—surfacing, anti-refective coating, fnishing, etc.—but we provide automated inspection and fnish blocking systems. We also can do automated packaging systems which are becoming more popular in the U.S. because of the high volume of uncut lenses being produced. CAROL WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR BUSINESS THIS YEAR? JOHN We're very pleased at the acceptance of our instruments and our new technology associated with the small footprint automation. We have projects that run through the end of the year. Q. What is A&R doing in the wholesale lab industry? time, but about nine years ago it established an offce in Milwaukee, WI to support the North American market. We now have a sales, service, and distribution center in the Midwest. CAROL WHAT TYPE OF MACHINERY ARE LABS REQUESTING? JOHN The most important product that seems to be driving the need in labs is related to free-form produc- tion. A&R has high-tech lens mapping systems to help support labs to produce free-form to the highest standards. CAROL WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES FACING LABS TODAY? JOHN Many are related to the consolidation of the industry. I think another challenge is that the technology necessary to be com- petitive is becoming more and more sophisticated and more of a challenge to master. So the techni- cal skill of the people who support the machinery is much higher now than it was many years ago. CAROL WHAT NEW PROD- UCTS HAVE YOU RECENTLY RELEASED? A. One of the exciting things we have been involved with is developing instrumentation for wholesale labs so they can ensure the quality of the lenses they produce and have objective measurements that allow them to control their manufacturing processes. If you can control your manufacturing process with an objective and accurate measuring system, then that means the quality produced is at the highest level. When you produce lenses the right way the frst time, you reduce the costs associated with making the lenses. So we take a very positive and productive approach with labs to produce better products and to reduce their costs. We have instrumentation that can support that approach. We have manual systems as well as fully automatic systems. We're fortunate to have great products and excellent support, so our business is strong. We're a small company, so it's very important for us to provide ongoing support to our customers so that we can expand our business through their success. CAROL GILHAWLEY CAN YOU GIVE ME SOME BACK- GROUND ON A&R? JOHN FRIED A&R Optical JOHN FRIED started in the contact lens industry in 1972, after which he became a product man- ager for polycarbonate spectacle lenses. In the late '80s, he began setting up companies to market and distribute high-tech manufacturing equipment for labs. He founded Satis in the U.S. and then became president of Loh before joining A&R nine years ago when it opened its North American facility. Machinery, Inc. was established about 30 years ago in Verviers, Belgium. It's a privately held organization of highly skilled technical people producing instrumentation automation in a factory in Belgium. It has a staff of about 100 people. CAROL WHY DID A&R OPEN AN OFFICE IN THE U.S.? JOHN A&R had worldwide distribution and was able to support customers from Belgium for a long OLP.Mar2014.indd 6 2/24/14 11:57 AM

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