IT’S ALL IN THE PLANNING

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OLP spoke with Walman Optical to find out how its Omaha location successfully planned, chose and installed high capacity equipment with minimal disruption.

Most growing labs run into the same problem, when business increases and production capacity has been reached, service either slows or becomes limited. The solution is threefold: quit growing, create additional capacity or add higher capacity production equipment.

THE PROBLEM
At Walman Optical’s Omaha, NE, location, production capacity had been reached but space was limited. Saddled with older equipment, Walman had to make a decision because there was no room to add any. The lab was running about 1,200 to 1,300 jobs a day using two Schneider HSC generators combined with three CCP 102 polishers, all 2006 vintage, and a newer 2016 Satisloh Orbit and Multiflex.

The lab ultimately chose to completely replace the current machinery with more efficient, higher capacity equipment.

The process took three months of analysis followed by three more months of actual planning, all managed by Matt Cummins, director of field operations, who instituted his mantra: “Proper Previous Planning Prevents Poor Performance.”

THE SOLUTION
Walman began by contacting possible vendors and other labs for their experiences and sought opinions from employees involved in producing jobs. Walman eventually decided to purchase two HSC Modulo XTS generators combined with three CCP Modulo S polishers from Schneider and the OTL 80 CNC-A Laser Engraver from Optotech. Their existing lab management system from Digital Vision, Inc. required additional programming for the new equipment. All were tied to an intelligent conveyer system by Carryline USA and managed by Schneider’s Modulo Line, the brain that organizes job flow and monitors machine efficiency.

Walman had the luxury of being able to “use alternate routes” among its lab system to continue processing jobs, allowing for a shutdown from Thursday to the following Monday, when production resumed at about 50%, ramping up to full production by Wednesday.

The HSC Modulo XTS generators provided a quantum increase in machine production by using a new motor, the XS-Tec. It allows for much faster track transition (twice as fast) for the fine cutting, essentially doubling output. These are tied to three CCP Modulo S polishers.

Ray Stavneak, branch manager, has produced as many as 50 bread-and-butter jobs per hour but routinely pushes out 40 jobs per hour with a combined mix of materials, allowing for two generators to replace three circa 2006 HSC Masters with CCP-102/103 polishers. The Orbit 2 and MultiFlex, installed in 2016, were carried over and are also used in-line, primarily for standard and out-of-range jobs. The machine configuration is expected to provide double the previous throughput.

OptoTech’s OTL 80 CNC-A is producing 150 engravings per hour, two and a half times more than the previous engraver. This was the company’s first independent lab installation and was not prepared for the enormous number of lens options needed — about 3,000 — and relied heavily on The Vision Council’s Electronic Progressive Identifier Catalog (EPIC) when building the new files.

What made this installation successful was the planning and teamwork between four separate suppliers and the user, Walman Optical, which started in earnest three months before installation and accommodated all of the companies sending personnel on-site to prepare. Carryline went so far as to assemble the complete conveyer line in its home office in Kentucky before disassembling and transporting it to Omaha in three trucks for reassembly. DVI was charged with developing interfaces for the newly installed machinery, and they worked as efficiently as they have with old products. OptoTech sent three technicians, who were kept busy loading the new lens identification information. In addition to its on-site personnel, Schneider sent another technician from Germany to fix an unexpected problem.

Change is always difficult for employees, but by involving them from the start, the acceptance was better than expected, particularly because no jobs were lost. All the suppliers provided necessary training, and so far there have been no surprises. It’s still early, but breakage is down as well.

Coming online on time and under budget, the new high production capacity equipment will provide a free-flowing, free-forming job highway well into the future.

As Cummins said, “I could not imagine an installation going better. Every supplier’s equipment has lived up to its claims, and I would recommend all without hesitation.”

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