DAC Vision
A Monthly Update for Optical Laboratory Owners and Managers October 2008

Made possible by an unrestricted grant from DAC Vision.

New Products
 
Operating Strategies
Bob Niemiec

Bob Niemiec










The Art and Science
of Customer Service

As a consumer, on a daily basis we contemplate tradeoffs and make purchasing decisions factoring in things like price and service. Sometimes we have a vast array of choices and sometimes we must deal with whatever price and service the provider gives (i.e. airlines). Consequently, we've all been both beneficiaries and victims of both good and bad customer service.

art of customer service

Let me share two of my personal experiences in this area that have applications to our industry. Recently I placed an order online for some relatively simple items and waited several days with no acknowledgement either of the receipt of the order or communication regarding any problems with it. When I inquired about my order's status, what followed was a long stream of emails from a place half a world removed from where the items were stocked. The people responding to my emails couldn’t acknowledge if the merchandise was in stock or if it was, when it would ship. They weren't particularly knowledgeable about the products they sold and couldn't present or explain alternatives to the items I ordered. Nor could they cancel the order. Despite this being a rather simple transaction, it was a dismal failure in both the art and science of customer service. The service reps were neither proactive, empowered nor knowledgeable (the art). Nor was customer service, due to inadequate systems, capable of informing anyone of just where the order was at any point or if the product was even there (the science).

Contrast this with another experience where the transaction was of a much more complicated nature, (i.e. setting up and configuring an investment plan). Within 15 minutes, a representative of a well known mutual fund company walked me through, over the phone and by Internet, a complicated array of choices and configuration options. Beyond that, the representative was knowledgeable in the products offered by the company so that I probably wound up doing more business with them than I originally envisioned; a success in both the art (knowledgeable, empowered, and able to communicate) and science (collaborative internet, real time resolution) of customer service.

science of vustomer service

In optical, whether at the wholesale or retail level, we and our customers face a sometimes dizzying array of choices and limitations when ordering products, making the transaction a complex one. Consequently, sometimes things may not go according to plan. Have you and your people mastered the art and science of customer service? Are your people empowered to take action when necessary? Are they knowledgeable about the products you offer? Can they intelligently offer alternatives when necessary? Are they good communicators and can they sell products in a service oriented way? On the science side of service, do you have accurate, real time order status that enables proactive communication back to the customer, either electronically or by phone.

From the experiences I presented above there is one company I and others will probably never do business with again and another with which my business will probably grow. Which do you want to be?

—Bob Niemiec is president of Optinova Solutions, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in operations improvement, new technology assessment and mergers and acquisitions, primarily in the optical industry. An optical industry veteran, he has held senior level positions in manufacturing and distribution with large optical retailers and manufacturers. He can be reached at rn.optinovasolutions@yahoo.com.

 
Tech Talk

Improve Your Tinting Technique

Tinting in and of itself is a simple process. Yet, not following simple protocols can lead to pitfalls. Here are some simple tips to help avoid problems:

Belrose Refracting Equipment

Photo courtesy of Belrose Refracting Equipment.















  • Clean the lens, using 91 percent alcohol (i.e., rubbing alcohol)

  • Edge the lens first so gradients are aligned properly and the tint doesn’t interfere with the final laying out of the lens.

  • To check the “accuracy” of the tint, use a light box or compare the recently tinted lens to a sample lens of the same color.

  • Check with both your tinting unit and tint manufacturers for recommended temperatures for tinting. Verify the tint temperature several times a day, especially before tinting a lens. Note that if the lab's heat or air conditioning isn't properly set, it can affect the temperature of the dye.

  • Turn on the tinting unit first thing in the morning when the lab opens for the day. It takes about an hour for most systems to reach optimum temperature.

  • Let the water used to mix the dye stand, uncovered, for 24 hours. This will allow fluoride, chlorine and other chemicals used to treat tap water to evaporate. These chemicals can affect how the dye dissolves.

  • Change dyes weekly, if not more frequently. If the colors aren't as true, or if the process is taking longer than usual, it's time to change the dyes.

 
HR Corner

Unwritten Policies: Are You Asking for Trouble?

Unwritten Policies

Many employers cite employees for violations of “unwritten” company policies that are enforced but not clearly set out in an employee handbook or other well-publicized document. This can be a big mistake.

While you or your managers may feel comfortable telling employees that “this is a long-standing unwritten rule” or “it's the way things have always been done,” the likelihood of your practice being sustained in court is much reduced. If you have no document to point to, it is very easy for employees to claim that they've been treated in a discriminatory manner including their race, sex, age, religion, disability, or other protected status.

To be safe, make sure everyone in your practice is on the same page regarding your policy and practice. Write them down and distribute them in an employee handbook or some other format you can easily point to in the event of an honest disagreement or dispute.

Employees should sign and return forms acknowledging that they have received and read the handbook, and that they understand the handbook does not constitute a binding contract (except for your at-will policy). If you change any of your policies or practices, make sure the changes are well-documented and communicated when implemented and periodically thereafter.

Hedley Lawson brings over 25 years of optical industry experience to JMI. For over 10 years, he has been a contributing editor to VM, most recently as writer of the monthly column “Business Essentials.” He is the Contributing Editor of VM's E-Newsletter Business Essentials.

 

 

Economic Downturn

Adjusting to the New Economic Realities

With the global financial crisis now in its second month, business owners everywhere are adjusting to new economic realities. For optical laboratory owners and operators, this could mean reduced demand for products and advanced services, increased price competition and reduced financing flexibility. Already, labs across the country have complained about softening sales and reduced average selling prices for Rexes. As patients try to hang on to more cash and reduce expenses they are less apt to visit their eye doctor, and when they do they are less likely to purchase eyewear, whether or not their Rx has changed. Additionally if new eyewear is purchased, patients are less inclined to add a second pair, pay up for premium lenses and options such as coatings or photochromic. These premiums are significant source of profit for labs.

Be watchful of well-financed competitors that have the ability and tendency to offer low prices for product and increased warranty and redo acceptance to your accounts, effectively buying them. During these tough times some customers may go to the lowest bidder, with less consideration of quality, service or loyalty.

Institutions are not going to be in a lending mood for awhile. Even if the economic bailout by Congress and reduced rates by the Federal Reserve create additional liquidity in the credit markets, it may be some time before the impact trickles down to small businesses that make up a significant part of the U.S. lab business. In a market like this, lab owners must maintain discipline in operational and capital spending. Plans to add advanced equipment and additional personnel must be carefully weighed against their impact to cash flow and expected return on investment.

On a positive note, as competitors look to streamline operating expenses, opportunities arise to hire effective sales and operations people. Also, prices for durable equipment may become more attractive because manufacturers may have incentive to reduce inventories. This tough economic climate presents a unique opportunity for you to fully review your businesses to eliminate waste, create efficiencies and enhance the way you do business. Focusing on improvement in a down market can reduce its negative impact in the near term while better positioning your company for success when the market bounces back.

Jason Meyer—Jason A. Meyer is senior vice president, HPC Puckett & Company. Based in San Diego, Calif., HPC Puckett & Company specializes in mergers and acquisitions of wholesale optical laboratories. You can send comments or questions about this article or any other Dollars & Sense articles to Jason Meyer at jam@hpcpuckett.com.

DAC Vision
 

Gerber Coburn

Making the 'Impossible' Rx

RxFiles

John Haskins of Slabs Plus shares the following story with Lab Advisor readers.

“I've been a licensed optician in the state of Florida since 1975. I've been very fortunate to work with the Guild opticians to give me the knowledge on the specialty lenses.

“The first special I made was back in 1978 for a woman that has a severe problem. I was in retail working with a Guild optician, Ken Dowdy, who had the 33rd license in the state of Florida. He came to me with an Rx that at first glance was not possible to do, as far as he was concerned. The Rx read: OD +13.00 -50x90 OS +13.00 sph. +3.00 add 8^ of prism base out OU, no prism at near. I then told Ken that I had one possibility.

“I started with two pair of lenses. First was the distance pair s.v. OD +13.00 -.50x90 with 8 diopters base out, OS OS +13.00 sph 8 diopters out. Next, I ground the second pair of lenses s.v. OD +16.00-.50 x90 with no prism; OS +16.00 sph. with no prism. I edged the distance Rx to the shape of the frame, then drilled a 22mm round hole in the distance lens. After that, I edged the near Rx round as small as the edger would allow about 25mm. I then had to hand edge these to 22mm. By using a contact lens plunger to hold the lens I was able to hand edge to 22mm. I inserted and cemented the near round lenses in the hole I drilled.

“This woman could see 20/20 distance, J1 near. It took me a month to make these glasses. My only problem was I didn't charge enough money ($68).“
— John Haskins, Slabs Plus, Ruskin, Fla.

DAC Vision
 

Ward Thelen of Epic Labs

Ward ThelenWard Thelen started at Epic Labs in June 1993. Epic Labs is an independently owned wholesale laboratory located in St. Cloud, Minn. As the surface room supervisor for Epic Labs, Thelen is responsible for overseeing all surface room personnel, performing equipment maintenance and managing daily operations.

Epic Labs places an emphasis on teamwork. “Everyone is dedicated to producing quality work for the customer,” Thelen said. He exemplifies this company culture daily when performing his tasks.

On a typical day, Thelen starts by reviewing the previous day's performance, checking inventory and ordering the necessary supplies. “I pay close attention to numbers and turnaround times on the jobs in progress,” he commented. “I assess jobs needing extra attention and then assign them to specially trained staff members for follow up.”

Throughout the day Thelen constantly evaluates workflow assuring all jobs are moving smoothly and through the lab in a timely matter. He has proven to optimize the workflow at Epic Labs by cross-training the staff, providing them with the necessary skills to work in all areas of the lab. Before closing up the laboratory, Thelen regularly checks the calibrations and temperatures of the equipment to verify everything is running properly. This attention to detail enables Epic Labs to maintain their quick turnaround time.

“Each day presents new challenges,” Thelen said. “Our team works hard to follow all well-defined procedures to make the lab run smoothly. I love the responsibility and challenges I get to tackle every day.”

Thelen reported the highlight of his career to be the satisfaction he gets from knowing he helps produce top quality lenses for their customers. “The quality of life for our customers’ patients is improved with the kind of specialty eyewear we produce, he added.”

Thelen looks forward to continuing his career at Epic Labs by providing the best working environment for his staff that fosters learning new things.—Samantha Toth

DAC Vision
 

Lighthouse Offers Free Web Browser for Visually Impaired People

Lighthouse International is releasing an innovative new add-on software tool that will enable millions of people worldwide with low vision to access previously inaccessible Web sites.

While existing programs enable blind people to access the Web effectively, LowBrowse is the first program to enable people with moderate or severe low vision to both view Web pages as the original Web author intended and read the text on those pages tailored to their own visual needs. The highly anticipated program, which runs in conjunction with the Mozilla Firefox browser, will be offered at no charge and is expected to be available to the public for download via the Firefox add-on site in late summer or early fall of 2008.

LowBrowse is part of a larger research project on low vision user interface design headed by Aries Arditi PhD, senior fellow in Vision Science at Lighthouse International, under a grant from the National Eye Institute. “This technology enables all the text on a Web site to be presented in the same readable format—size, color, font and spacing—regardless of which page is being viewed and without having to navigate to the next line,” said Arditi, a vision scientist and an expert in web accessibility. Dr. Arditi, who is the current president of the International Society of Low-Vision Research and Rehabilitation, has written more than 80 scientific publications about vision and is the author of Lighthouse International's popular Color Contrast and Making Text Legible publications.

Arditi added, “LowBrowse emphasizes efficiency and accessibility for the unique needs of people with vision loss. This system further democratizes the Internet and empowers millions of people with low vision.”

Using open source technology, this Web browser add-on will be free to users through the Firefox Add-on site. It works with Windows, MacOS and Linux.

Dr. Cooke

Cincinnati optometrist Keith Sellers, OD (left), Ronald Cooke, OD Diversified Ophthalmics' president and CEO (center) and Deno Persiani, OD (right) of Fairfield, Ohio, participated in the casino night. By their smiles, we must assume they were among the winners.

Ledford Landon

Seminar participants at the Kodak CleAR retreat included Laura Ledford, OD of Cincinnati's Opticare Vision Care (left), Dr. Ledford’s mother, Kathleen Landon, an Opticare Vision Center Licensed optician (center), and Dr. Ledford's father, George Landon, OD (right) are a strong optometric family eye care team.

Diversified Hosts Kodak CleAR Retreat—Training, planning, and continuing education meetings at Cincinnati's Great Wolf Lodge filled the weekend of August 16 and 17 for ECPs and the staff and management of Diversified Ophthalmics. Saturday's program included strategic planning and technical training sessions for Diversified sales and technical associates from across the country, while ECP's and family members enjoyed the Great Wolf's huge indoor water park. On Saturday evening, ECPs and Diversified staff members enjoyed a meal and educational program featuring Jeff LaPlante, Signet Armorlite's manager of training and education. LaPlante's lively and informative presentation included helpful and practical ways of dealing with challenges of new technology including freeform and antireflective technologies. The Saturday program, sponsored by Signet Armorlite/Kodak CleAR, included a casino night which was enjoyed by all attendees.

Expansion Plans Underway for Optic Blue—Optic Blue, an independent full service lab in Lubbock, Texas, is planning to triple its laboratory space.

Optic Blue

Wes Palmer, Optic Blue's director of sales and marketing, left, with lab president and founder Jason Blue.

“We are actively engaged in acquiring approximately 8,000 square feet of additional lab space,” said company president Jason Blue. “This additional space will allow us to expand our inventory and customer service areas, and acquire additional technologies to increase laboratory volume and efficiency.” The expansion will also provide space for an AR coating facility in the future, he noted.

Optic Blue was founded in 2006 by Blue, who was formerly with Benedict Optical and Hoya Vision Care. The lab began as a finishing lab with a staff of five. With the addition in 2007 of Satisloh surfacing equipment, the lab expanded into full service production. Optic Blue currently processes 150 to 225 jobs per day and has a staff of 14.

“We are proud to offer cutting edge lens designs, materials, and coatings by industry leaders such as Hoya Vision Care,” said Blue. Additional laboratory offerings include frame and lens packages for children and adults, and Optic Blue has recently become a U.S. distributor for Rodenstock frames.

21st Century Acquires Quick Care Frame Repair— 21st Century Optics, based in Long Island City, N.Y., has acquired Quick Care Frame Repair. The Bronx, N.Y.-based business, formerly owned by its founder, John Bonizio, includes a frame repair division and a wholesale edging division. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

“The addition of the frame repair business adds a unique component to the services already offered by 21st Century, providing practitioners in the New York metropolitan region with the only true full service lab of its kind,” said Ralph Woythaler, CEO of 21st Century Optics. “With an in-house stock of parts and supplies for thousands of frame types and models, this service will enable repairs and modifications on frames of almost any material, including sun clips, ptosis crutches, saddle bridges, cable conversions to name a few.”

The acquisition allows Bonizio to concentrate exclusively on his Bronx-based optical retail business.

21st Century Optics is a member of the Essilor laboratory group.

Merchamp USA Expands Marco Sunglass Distribution—Merchamp USA, a division of Marchamp Ltd. has added NEA Optical of Jonesboro, Arkansas, Truckee Meadows Optical of Reno, Nev., McLeod Optical of Warwick, R.I. and Cherry Optical of Green Bay, Wis. as distributors of its Marco line of fully Rx-able, high fashion polarized sunglasses. Other labs currently distributing the line include eMagine Optical of Tulsa, Okla., Hirsch Optical of Farmingdale, N.Y.; Katz & Klein of Sacramento, Calif. and Sutherlin Optical of Kansas City, Mo.

Veteran Lab Executive Robert Kathe Dies—Robert D. Kathe, a veteran optical laboratory owner and executive, died in Mesa, Ariz. on Oct. 14 due to complications from scleroderma. He was 66 years-old.

21 Century Optics

Robert Kathe

Kathe began his optical career in 1959 with Duffens Optical in Salina, Kan., following a career in the rodeo. He held a succession of jobs at Duffens, ending up as production manager before leaving in 1964. He then moved to Arizona, where he worked as lab manager of Apache Optical, a force in the optical industry in the 1960s. In 1969 he became the branch manager for Bausch & Lomb and then moved to Optico Industries as corporate vice-president, a position he held until 1979. After developing a third-party vision care plan called ECPA, Kathe bought Aspen Optical, a small laboratory in Phoenix, in 1986. The lab was acquired by Essilor several years ago.

Kathe was inducted into the Optical Laboratories Association Hall of Fame in 2005. He was honored with the optical industry’s “Good Fellow” award in 2004.

He was preceded in death by his son Michael Kathe, and is survived by his wife Diane, two sons, Dave and Ron, daughter-in-laws Vickie and Kelly and grandchildren Brandy, Zach, Matthew, and Connor.

In lieu of flowers, the Kathe family asks that donations be made to one of Kathe’s favorite charities, Wildhorse Ranch Rescue, P.O. Box 415, Gilbert, Ariz., 85299, (866) 926-8007, www.mudpony.com.

Marlene Deutsch

Marlene Deutsch

Ken Donow

Ken Donow

Reliable Expands Sales Territories, Adds Two Reps— Reliable Optics, an independent wholesale laboratory based in Brooklyn, New York, is expanding its business reach into new geographic areas with the addition of two regional account managers to its sales team.

Marlene Deutsch will provide account management services to customers in parts of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Washington, D.C. and Virginia. Deutsch has more than 16 years serving the optical community, most recently as an independent sales representative for high end frame lines Miko Opt and Volte Face.

Ken Donow will be responsible for the New York City, Long Island and Westchester regions. Donow’s technical sales and sales management career spans over 30 years. His previous five years were spent serving as the sales manager for JG Optical, also of Brooklyn.

Both regional account managers will represent the complete line of Reliable Optics products and services including the Crystal Allure in-house AR technology center, premium edging services and online orders.

Transitions

Carol Schartner of Transitions Optical leading a seminar on “Healthy Sight Counseling for Kids.”

Dee Hague

Dee Hague, manager of McLeod’s customer service reps, with her “helping hands.”

Dr. Miller

The staff of Robert Miller, OD's office in East Greenwich, R.I., touring the McLeod lab with lab manager Carmine Albano.

Lynchal Vesbranco

Essilor sales consultant Fran Lynch with Lisa Alves, center, and Lori Branco, licensed opticians at Center For Sight in Fall River, Mass.

McLeod Optical Hosts Educational Event—McLeod Optical, based in Warwick, R.I., hosted a day of fun, food and education for their customers on June 21. The aptly named “Super Summer Camp” included continuing education for independent eyecare professionals. Greg Rodriguez, a nationally noted speaker, presented a session entitled “How to Give Your Patients What They Want, But Don’t Always Get” and Carol Shartner of Transitions Optical, pictured at right, presented “Healthy Sight Counseling for Kids.”

While ECPs were learning strategies to grow their business, McLeod Optical employees participated in an on-site Essilor Lab University, led by Dave Cuffe. Ruth Donaghy gave motivation and refined skill sets to the McLeod customer service team members. Undoubtedly, the positive impact of the multi-dimensional training day will carry on in practitioners' offices across a tri-state area.

“Both speakers were excellent,” said Susan Ferrucci, of Robert Miller, O.D., East Greenwich, R.I. “The topics were good and they both gave us great ideas and advice as how to market products better to increase our profits.”

Following the four educational programs held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Warwick, R.I., attendees were treated to a summer barbeque at McLeod Optical, a first visit to the lab for many attendees. As New England’s only independent lab with an in-house Crizal Technology Center, interest in performance and service on Crizal technologies was particularly high.

“Thank you very much for the education, the wonderful BBQ and great conversation. The Crizal process is amazing!” commented Melissa Merritt, Optometric Associates, Lewiston, Maine.

To put the “Super” in Summer Camp, McLeod provided all attendees with beach bags loaded with summertime fun gift items such as a hat, shirt, sunblock lotion and more. Exclusive to Super Summer Camp attendees was an incentive promotion featuring Crizal Avance and Crizal Sun, both of which are produced at McLeod Optical’s in-house Crizal Technology Center.

Hoyalux iD

Hoyalux iD in Phoenix and Phoenix
Suntech Photochromic


Manufacturer: Hoya Vision Care
Description: Lightweight, durable PAL with integrated double surface design
Features: Available in Phoenix and Phoenix Suntech Photochromic, the lightest lens materials for patients with moderate prescriptions. Made with HOYA Free-Form Technology, which isolates individual performance of the front and back surfaces. Vertical power changes are positioned on the front surface, and horizontal power changes are on the back surface, increasing patient adaptability and eliminating distortion and swimming effects.
(972) 221-4141
www.hoyavision.com

 
Optivision DigitalTrace

DigitalTrace

Manufacturer: Optivision
Description: Software that connects satellite tracing locations with a centralized edging lab
Features: Combining a simple order entry interface with input from a frame tracer, DigitalTrace allows a satellite location to use the Job Entry window to enter the Rx and attach a frame trace with the job. The Job Entry window sends the job to the centralized database that accepts jobs every minute of every day, ensuring that the satellite will always successfully transmit the job. The job is checked prior to sending, helping eliminate data entry errors. With DigitalTrace quick and easy job entry, a doctor's centrally located edging lab can receive a trace from a satellite location to have the job blocked and edged in minutes.
(800) 795-9927
www.digitaltrace.net

 
Polycore

Polycore SFSV in 1.71 Index

Manufacturer: Polycore Optical
Description: Versatile, ultra high-index lens
Features: Allows labs with the appropriate tooling to process the lenses in-house, avoiding high processing fees. Excellent value for labs with direct surfacing capability. High tensile strength results in superior drill-mounting. High abbe value. Eleven base curves available.
(888) 645-7788
www.polycore.com

 
Vision-Ease LifeRx

LifeRx, Coppertone and SunRx
gray and brown SFSV 75mm in 1, 3, 5 bases


Manufacturer: Vision-Ease Lens
Description: Expanded base curve range
Features: Provides higher quality for direct-surface progressive lens processing. In addition to the base curves previously offered, the base curve availability now ranges from 0.50 to 7.50 in one-diopter steps, making the lenses highly compatible with leading direct-surface progressive lens technologies and covering wide prescription ranges from +5.00 to -11.75.
(800) 328-3449
www.vision-ease.com

 

Younger Drivewear

Drivewear Image in Polycarbonate

Manufacturer: Younger Optics
Description: Photochromic polarized progressive driving lens in polycarbonate
Features: Lens has one of the widest distortion free distance zones in the industry, a key advantage for the driving task. Clear viewing at near, far and intermediate distances. Can accommodate Rx ranges of -9.00D to +7.00D, with 1.00 – 3.00 add powers. Lightweight and highly impact resistant. Combines Transitions photochromic technology and NuPolar polarization. Darkens behind car windshield. Changes color based on current driving conditions in order to enhance the driver's vision.
(800) 877-5367
www.youngeroptics.com

 
In This Edition...
DOLLARS & SENSE
Adjusting to the New Economic Realities
THE RX FILES
Making the
'Impossible' Rx
FOCUS ON…
Ward Thelen
of Epic Labs
NEWS TO USE
Lighthouse Offers
Free Web Browser
for Visually
Impaired People
LAB NOTES

Diversified Hosts
Kodak CleAR Retreat

Expansion Plans
Underway for
Optic Blue

21st Century
Acquires Quick Care
Frame Repair

Merchamp USA
Expands Marco
Sunglass Distribution

Veteran Lab Executive
Robert Kathe Dies

Reliable Expands
Sales Territories,
Adds Two Reps

McLeod Optical
Hosts Educational Event

BUYING GROUP &
LAB ASSOCIATION
NEWS
OLA Welcomes
Labapalooza

OLA Taps 12
for Hall of Fame

Keane to Receive
OLA Directors' Choice
Award
OPERATING STRATEGIES
The Art and Science
of Customer Service
TECH TALK
Improve Your
Tinting Technique

check HR CORNER
Unwritten Policies:
Are You Asking
for Trouble?
 

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DAC Vision
 
LabTalk Spotlight
October 2008

In LabTalk's feature, “Tracking Down Breakage & Errors,” written by Linda Little, you'll find out how to track down errors by finding what happened differently than before. Check out this excerpt:

“Let's take an example of a lens that is at final inspection and the axis measurement is off. This would be considered an error or breakage since the lens can not be used and must be replaced. This is a substantial cost for a lab. Where would a detective begin?

Most likely, a review of the steps to process the lens would be in order and identifying the 'normal.' Let's look at this through a diagram for ease of explanation and reducing the boring reading! So continuing with an offaxis lens as our example, the Detective will need to realize the Inputs to the Process and the Outputs or often referred to as “Requirements” of the process. “The first step is to measure the error,” explained Jack Banville, VSP Labs. “We want to know if we have a problem or not and the size of the problem.” At VSP, employees are trained to use a system of 'Statistical Process Control' when handling a breakage. “We started using the Quality Improvement Process by Crosby, in 1992,” Banville added. “Since implementation, except for 1 or 2 years, our breakage rate has decreased every year.”

What does this system offer the Detective? “We don't want to solve the same problems over and over,” he explained. “We document the solution, document the procedure and don't change it.” This takes a great deal of discipline to make sure the procedures are followed. VSP measures their output to make sure the processes are correct and to prevent breakage. Ah, that's the clue. Prevent the breakage to begin with. Is it possible?

To read the entire article, “Tracking Down Lab Breakage & Errors” log on to http://www.labtalkonline.com/. Here you will find the article listed under the Features section. If you are searching after October 28th, you can find this article in the Archives in the Lab Operations section.


Buying Group & Lab Association News

OLA Welcomes Labapalooza—What would you call an exciting new event for optical laboratories with live rock 'n' roll music, refreshments, cocktails, plus lab awards for the Top Labs of 2008, best lab Web Site of the Year and a wild and wacky art contest using finishing pads? You'd call it Labapalooza and it's happening Friday, Nov. 7, 2008 at 5:30 p.m. at the Optical Laboratories Association's annual event at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, in Nashville, Tenn.

Presentation of the Top Labs for 2008 will be followed by the announcement of the top 10 Web sites of the year, including Web Site of the Year. New this year is the Trash to Treasure finishing pad art contest, sponsored by DAC Vision and Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, which generated over 15 wild and wonderful entries. Top picks will be on display at Labapalooza and the winners announced.

Labapalooza
Entertainment will be provided by OffAxis, an all-optical classic rock cover band featuring Steve Santinelli, Bill Gerber, Calvin Howell, Robert Schanbaum, Angela Carroll, and Andy Karp.

The event is being presented by Vision Monday and LabTalk magazine and sponsored by the following companies: Title Sponsors—Schneider Optical Machines and Shamir Insight; Ultra Sponsors—Gerber Coburn, The OLA, Santinelli International, X-Cel Optical; and Premium Sponsors—Digital Vision Inc., Flex Link, National Optronics, Optical Synergies, and The Vision Council.

OLA Taps 12 for Hall of Fame— The Optical Laboratories Association will be inducting twelve people into the OLA Hall of Fame for 2008. Bob Dziuban, executive director of OLA said the dozen industry veterans will be honored at the 9th annual OLA Hall of Fame Banquet on November 6, 2008 in Nashville, Tennessee, on the opening day of THE OLA 2008 Annual Meeting. The 2008 Hall of Fame Honorees are Donna Benedict, Bruce Calhoun, Al de Rojas, Susan Crawley, Ray Knoll, Don Ruden, Steve Sutherlin, Art Waite, Gerald Ward; John Payne, Irving Rips and George Weber will be honored posthumously.

Keane to Receive OLA Directors' Choice Award— The Optical Laboratories Association will honor Gordon Keane, president of Digital Vision, Inc. (DVI) by presenting him with its 2008 Directors’ Choice Award at its President’s Banquet and Awards ceremony on Nov. 8. The ceremony will take place at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. at the culmination of OLA's annual meeting.

“Like Albert Einstein's ability to improve life through innovation, Gordon Keane has had a similar effect of enhancing the optical community's life. Don't miss this opportunity to thank Gordon for his achievements in making our lives better,” said OLA president Barney Dougher of Hoya Vision Care.

Keane founded DVI in 1983 to specialize in automating optical laboratories. He had spent several years working with George Weber, Tom Mitchoff, and the Sericko family at Columbian Bifocal, developing and then managing the first widely used ophthalmic manufacturing and business software.

The Directors' Choice Award honors individuals, companies or organizations, which have made outstanding contributions to the ophthalmic industry.